1 My girlfriends - Jodi, Carol, and Joyce
2 Instead of trying to recreate the experiences of Miles and Jack, the fictional characters in Sideways, we received a real personal tour of the area planned by Tracey Burnett (left), a resident of the area, who showed us the rich resources of vineyards, horse ranching, and good food.
3 After a night’s stay in Santa Barbara, we headed to Los Olivos and started our adventure by eating lunch outside at The Los Olivos Wine Merchant Café. http://www.losolivoscafe.com
4 After lunch, we visited J. Woeste Home and Garden Treasures owed by Jefferson Woeste. http://www.jwoesre.com
5 We had a magical time walking throughout the shop looking at all the décor items and plants that would be fun to add to any home and garden.
6 The colorful metal sun and giant flamingos caught my eye.
7 Wine tasting does take place at this shop, so a clever use of wine corks was used to label herbs growing in pots.
8 Our first wine tasting took place at Saarloos & Sons, located in Los Olivos. This is a true family business with a unique family creed and several family members involved and honored in their history of wine making. http://saarloosandsons.com
9 During the tasting, a descriptive wood board was used. The names of the wines depict family members.
10 The two words, "Honor and Prepare," is the simple two word company statement. The Saarloos & Sons wine bottles honor family members and prepare the way for generations to come.
11 Keith is the wine maker for Saarloos & Sons. Keith’s grandfather converted an old apple orchard into a vineyard. Keith has been involved in the family business for 21 years.
12 For the tasting at Saarloos & Sons, the wines were paired with cupcakes made by Enjoy Cupcakes. The cupcakes being tasted that day are listed on the blackboard. Amber Joy started her bakery in 2009 and is inspired by the local ingredients from the area. http://enjoycupcakes.com
13 These are six unique and delicious mini cupcakes that we tasted. The chocolate blackberry Syrah, the signature cupcake in the bottom left hand corner, is a Chocolate, Syrah infused cake, filled with dark chocolate Belgium fudge, topped with blackberry frosting and a wine soaked blackberry that's rolled in sugar crystals. The pairing was an enjoyable experience.
14 Traveling from one town to another, we passed many horse farms. One that caught our attention was Quick Silver, located between Solvang and Ballard, which breeds and trains miniature horses. A foal rested as her mother grazed.
15 This beautiful foal looked like a toy horse. The coloring and softness of the coating was remarkable.
16 We then visited Magali Farms, a spectacular thoroughbred farm on 238 acres. This is a full service equine breeding, boarding, and training center for thoroughbred horses. http://magalifarms.com
17 There were 104 foals at the farm the week that we visited. It was a special day to see so many foals at one time. Every pasture had beautiful mares and foals.
18 A new foal, just 7 hours old, was born the night before our visit. It was so amazing to see this 140-pound foal stand on its legs for the first time and gain footing.
19 After the horse farms, we stopped by the shop, KJ Murphy Custom Hatter in Santa Ynez. This is Kevin Murphy, the owner and designer. Kevin has been making custom hats since 1996, fitting every customer correctly and stylishly. http://www.kjmurphys.com
20 Kevin has a quote in his shop about the custom hats he makes - “A Fine Hat Fits like a Good Friend” quote by Charles M. Russell.
22 Amy Dixon is the owner and baker and I loved the sign that she had posted.
23 Every bakery treat looked delicious, so we decided to order a variety to share.
24 After a hearty breakfast, we were ready to spend the day visiting some special wineries. Our first stop was at Gainey Vineyard, part of a large, sustainable farming operation owned and run by four generations of the Gainey family for the past 50 years. http://www.gaineyvineyard.com
25 The beautiful scenery at this vineyard shows a commitment to detail that the Gainey family has taken for sustainable farming and quality wine production. There are 120 acres of vineyards on this 1,800 acre farm.
26 Our group was treated to a special tasting organized by Diane Connors, Special Events Manager (back left corner) and Jeff LeBard, wine maker (back right corner).
27 Jeff LeBard - wine maker and John Falcone - General Manager & Director of Winemaking provided an educational overview of the history and winemaking program of Gainey. They feel they are the shepherds of the wines, as the center of attention is always the grapes.
28 We tasted an array of limited selections and each had wonderful overtones. The large G on some of the bottles is the new logo being introduced this year. This stop was a definite place to purchase wine to take home.
30 We also visited the Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards. Zaca Mesa also embraces sustainable winegrowing. This vineyard was planted in 1973 and more than 200 acres out of the 750 acre estate are planted with grapes. http://www.zacamesa.com
31 Kori presented several estate wines for us to taste and we were so impressed that we bought most of the selections.
32 A fitting end to our trip was attending The Santa Ynez valley Junior Rodeo at the equestrian center. You could see that horses are a wonderful family pastime, bringing father and son together.
33 Three charming girls were waiting to enter competition at the rodeo.
34 Children of all ages looked confident and comfortable with their horses.
35 These boys were getting ready for a roping competition.
36 It was such a pleasure for us to see very young girls having such fun and companionship with their horses.
37 I encourage you to visit the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley for a fun new adventure.