I promised to take as many photos as I could on our trip to the Santa Ynez valley (Santa Barbara County wine country), and hopefully I fulfilled that promise with some much needed help from Terri.
Considering we went to nine different wineries, I’m going to try and not bombard you with a billion photos and commentary in a single blog post. Instead, I’m going to post about the vineyards in the same manner we visited them – by location.
First up are the beautiful Kalyra and Sunstone wineries. Both are located on the same road less than a mile from one another just outside of the town of Solvang. If you make your way to this region, you definitely can’t visit one without visiting the other because these two wineries are next door neighbors. The less driving the better is what I say!
Although vastly different from one other as Suntone is a traditional Provencal French feel while Kalyra has an Australian surfer vibe, these two have equal amounts of charm and ambience making each experience unique and special.
I will go through each one below describing our experiences and sharing photos that illustrate just how wonderful each tasting room is.
First let’s start with…
If any of you saw the movie Sideways you may or may not remember Kalyra. It was the winery that Sandra Oh worked in when she met the characters of “Miles” and “Jack”. It is also the only winery whose actual business name was used throughout the movie as opposed to other wineries that used fictitious names such as Fess Parker’s alias of “Frass Canyon.” This is something they are proud of as they display the Sideways movie poster and cast photos on their tasting room wall.
Although Kalyra’s curb appeal is demure and simple with a basic white and beige ranch style house, the interior is funky fresh with bold colors, a surfboard as their logo and a hipster energy running through the entire place that is very Surfers Paradise meets the House of Blues.
We were greeted by Maddie, the wine maker’s 15 yr. old labrador retriever. Of course Terri and I immediately hit the ground when we walked in and saw the dog chillin’ on the floor. I think we might have freaked out the pourer who heard the door open and saw nobody when she turned around to greet us. It wasn’t until I popped my head up over the bar and said “Hey, nice place. Love the dog!” that she knew we were there. LOL!
An even more pleasant surprise was that unlike some of the other tasting rooms, their merchandise in the boutique isn’t 100% wine or logo-gear related. Instead they sell handmade jewelry, buddha statues, peace sign tank tops, Tibetan prayer flags and incense. This is my kind of place! I got the overwhelming urge to meditate, drink wine and catch a wave all the same time. Brilliant! It’s not a big surprise they have a satellite tasting room near the beach in Santa Barbara called Kalyra by the Sea.
As if it couldn’t get any better, they offered 8 wines on their tasting menu as opposed to most wineries 5-6 options for the same price ($10). I liked their “2009 MC2” which is a blend of 70% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec/Shiraz. I thought the blend was genius, but Terri poured hers out like she was just given a glass of prune juice. That just goes to show how you can NOT take my word on wine because everyone’s palettes are different! You just have to taste them for yourself! 🙂 We did mutually agree that we couldn’t live without their 2009 Pinot Bianco (also known as Chenin Blanc in France). It was crispy, refreshing and perfect considering it was a whopping 90 degrees outside.
If you’re looking for a chilled ambiance, a dog to snuggle with, Adele playing in the background and several yummy wines to taste for only $10, then this place is a total score!
Enjoy the photos and please check out Kalyra if you’re ever in the Santa Ynez area!
And now moving onto…
I can’t even begin to express how unbelievably beautiful this place is. When you’re there it is very easy to imagine you are in the French country side nestled into the perfect corner of the world. The lavender, the birds, the fountains, the vines, the stone buildings….ahhhhhhhhhhh. Just gorgeous!
We were particularly excited about coming to Sunstone because rumor had it that they had a cave. We didn’t know what kind of cave, but dammit we didn’t care. We wanted to see it for whatever it was! As it turns out, they actually have two caves!
One cave that we didn’t get to see is built into the hillside where they age their wine. The second is in the back of the tasting room where they hold special events (which we did get to see and photograph). There is even a cellar room with a circular table that they utilize for special dinners. It was dark, mysterious and exquisite. Although I’ve never been to a winery in France, it looked exactly as I would expect a French winery to look.
Their tasting menu had a wonderful selection of their wines including an optional “Reserve” add-on. Although we weren’t over the moon about their reds, they had great whites. The 2009 Syrah Rose (pronounced “rose-ay”) in particular was light and lovely. They also offered bread and olive oil to nibble on in between tastings. I can’t imagine a more wonderful setting to picnic, sip wine and enjoy the day.
Unlike a lot of wineries in the area, Sunstone has special permitting for weddings and events. If you’re looking for a vineyard to have your special day, this just might be it!
Another great thing about Sunstone: They are a sustainable vineyard and only use organic grapes. That’s right! No pesticides in your wine. How can you go wrong with that?
We hope you enjoy these photos as well. Check back as I continue to feature the other seven wineries we visited. The best is yet to come!