Shawn - also known as the Wandering Wino - is the Wine Bloggers Conference ambassador for the Santa Barbara Vintners. This is the first of a series of articles for conference attendees.
When travelers get to planning those fun and exciting trips, often the anticipation, research, and discovery can provide a lot of positive emotional mileage before one even gets close to an airport. Travel agents, Google maps, Yelp, suggestions of locals, concierge and, of course, our very own Santa Barbara County Wines can often be great resources.
For all the wine-blogging rock-stars headed to Santa Barbara County this July, consider this to be custom concierge "Cliff Notes." Good beer, wine, food, and anything fun within 1 mile or so from the host hotel (Buellton Marriott) is often considered gold. This is wine country, and taxi cabs are not exactly plentiful in Santa Barbara. Depending on a traveler's shoes, physique, and "condition" of his/her condition, the distance he/she will want to walk will vary. Climate, of course, will not be a factor; after all, this is Santa Barbara in July.
One Way Distance Key
Stone's Throw - 100 yards or less
Lace Up - 101 yards to .9 mile
Hitch a Ride - 1 mile +
Lace Up: Cold Heaven
92 2nd Street, Buellton, CA
Standing Sun - Next door
For those too "over-the-top" excited to get their wine-tasting experience started, stumble on over all the way across the street to Cold Haven. While we are only talking the distance it takes from home plate to second base, one might be challenged by playing "Frogger" across the 101, so put your high heels away for this .7 of a mile walk.
Around these parts, Morgan Clendenen is known as "the Queen." Most people think of Morgen as the Queen of Viognier; however, a few might suggest she's the Queen of comedic sarcasm. Cold Haven primarily produces stellar Viognier and Pinot Noir. Should you happen to trip out the door, you could find yourself inside another tasting room which is not currently a member of the association, so "Shhh" cause you didn't hear it here. Evenings at Standing Sun is often a party atmosphere with live music, wine by the glass/tasting/bottle, and good finger foods.
Lace Up: Ken Brown Wines
157 West Highway 246, Buellton, CA
For those looking to learn about Santa Barbara history, and the vineyards, visit master jedi Ben Kenobi, AKA industry legend Ken Brown. Bring your recording devices as you will not want to miss a thing. Ken Byron Brown has been producing wine in Santa Barbara County since the early/mid 1970's and continues to be a shining-star producing Pinot Noir's from several stellar vineyards. Ken Brown would likely be on many wine enthusiasts short list of people to seek out. Get those comfy shoes for this .7 of mile.
Hitch a Ride: Loring/Cargasacchi
420 E. Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
Two wineries, one glass! Brian Loring and Peter Cargasacchi paired up in one location just 1.2 miles from the Marriott. Both wineries produce a few different varietals, however, both find common ground in Pinot Noir. Brian sources fruit from various parts of California and Oregon, while Peter picks from his two local vineyards Cargasacchi/Jalama just a short distance away. The Jalama vineyard just might be the closest vineyard to the ocean inside of Santa Barbara County, while Cargasacchi is part of the Sta Rita Hills AVA. Brian and Peter couldn't be more unique in both personality and wines. Be sure to bring your sense of humor and sarcasm dictionary, unless of course you are fluent.
Lace Up: Hitching Post II
406 East Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
Feeling hungry, nostalgic, thirsty, or just want to see one of the best Santa Maria Style red oak BBQ spots around? Then walk .7 of a mile to The Hitching Post II. I have had the pleasure of eating there since the late '90's back when reservations were not as highly suggested as they are now. The movie Sideways has thrusted the restaurant into the limelight. If travelers aren't familiar with the great BBQ, well, it is on the suggested list. BBQ master Frank Ostini and wine business partner Grey Hartley have been producing their own Hitching Post II Pinot Noir for many years and have lots of local wines available in the full bar.
Lace Up+ or Hitch a Ride: Ostrich Land USA
610 East Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
If you are still feeling Sideways enthralled, then stop by Ostrich Land USA past the Hitching Post II. This is only suggested for those with extra comfy shoes and interest, as this one stretches way past stumbling distance. If you're curious about this tasty bird, it has been a Hitching Post II menu item for years. This bird does not taste like chicken, but, in fact, just like steak.
Lace Up+ or Hitch a Short Ride 1.4 miles away: Avant Tapas and Wine
35 Industrial Way, Buellton, CA
If movie location shoots aren't your thing, then maybe tapas might have you at "Hello." Avant Tapas and Wine offers nearly 50 small/local producers by the ounce, glass, and bottle. Their full menu includes small/medium/large plates, pizzas, and tapas. Many smaller wine labels have their wine produced inside of this custom crush facility, named Taravant. Here at Avant, a guest can purchase a card to the self-serve great wall of wine, where one can create a personal wine-tasting experience.
Barefoot is really not suggested, but it really is that close.
Stone's Throw: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
620 McMurray Rd, Buellton, CA
It is often said, "It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine." Recently I was talking with a sommelier at World of Pinot Noir. He shared his experience at Firestone, and described having three kegs of beer in his hotel room for the sommeliers' party. Who doesn't love a good palate cleanser, and what better than beer?
Firestone gratefully is one of the closest spots on our list, but be patient, as they do not open the doors until 4:00 PM. Firestone needs little introduction to the typical Californian; but, for those visiting, this is the same family that was in the tire business so many years ago. The story of how Firestone beer started is a great one, and well worth stumbling a straight path half a block to do some journalistic investigation.
Hitch a Ride: Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
45 Industrial Way, Buellton, CA
Still got the buzz of beer interest, or just want to switch it up, then hitch a short ride to Figueroa Mountain Brewery. The nearest of their three locations isn't far from Avant, just about 1.5 miles from the Marriott. I think any visiting Oregonians might be pleasantly surprised.
Hitch a Ride - 1 mile: Industrial Eats
555 McMurray Rd, Buellton, CA
The big buzz in the area over the past months has been one of the newest restaurant editions to the area, Industrial Eats. Anyone, by now, may have seen the trend, yes, this fun eats is also located on Industrial Way. Lots of cool stops to visit on this small stretch of road that also is home to the California Highway Patrol. Stay safe all, and walking with a group can be a lot of fun.
Lace Up: Antonio's Pizza & Pasta
280 E. Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
After a long day of drinking, many might have a short list of dinner items that tend to please: Steak - Hitching Post II, Sushi - ARU Japanese (225 McMurray Rd), Mexican - Taco Roco (245 Avenue of Flags). Curious to continue down the local wine path while sharing a pizza with friends, then head over to Antonio's Pizza & Pasta. This locals pizza spot also carries a few local brews, to keep you emerged in Santa Barbara.
Interesting stories from Santa Barbara Wine County.