We are so fortunate to live in Southern Calfornia and to be just a couple hours away from some fantastic wine regions. Our most recent trip took us to Santa Maria where we found a few new gems and revisited one of our favorites. We headed out of LA on a Friday afternoon to head up the coast. Luckily the trip was just over 3 hours rather than the 5 ½ the original estimate showed. Since we arrived ahead of our friends we decided to start the weekend with some beer tasting.
First stop, Santa Maria Brewing Company at their Brewery and Tasting Room location. The small tasting room was filled with locals and standing room only. The staff was great and let us sample a couple of options before making our selection. For Rich, Resolution, an American Amber IPA. For me, Cali-Veza, a Mexican style lager. Both were great, easy drinking beers and not too heavy. Next time we are in the area we’ll visit one of their new locations with a restaurant and brewery.
Second stop was Figueroa Mountain Brewery for beer and dinner. They had a nice selection from lighter style beers to dark stouts. For Rich, Lizards Mouth IPA and a 9% ABV, for me, Danish Red Lager. Both were perfect choices and paired great with woodfired pizza!
Saturday we were off early for a day of tasting in the region. First stop was Cambria Wines, a beautiful property at the bottom of the Santa Maria foothills. For over 30 years, Cambria has practiced sustainable farming and is run predominately by women including the owners, GM, and winemaker. We tasted 5 Pinot Noirs and each was as unique and special as the vineyards they came from. The wines are all grown, produced and bottled right on the property making them truly special estate wines.
Our next stop was at Foxen 7200 – the “Shack” is part of Foxen Vineyard and Winery Their original tasting room, the “Shack”, and newer more modern tasting room pour different selections of Foxen wines. We opted to taste at the “Shack” based on our love of Bordeaux and “Cal-Ital” varietals and we were not disappointed. Our tasting was made up of a Sangiovese/Merlot based Rose, two red blends, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and an amazing Mission Port. Our first time having a Mission varietal and we loved the beautiful deep, rich flavors that were not clawingly sweet. Most of the wines we tasted come from Happy Canyon which is hands down one of our favorite regions.
The beautiful winding country road led us on a detour, not due to the heavy rains the area had experienced over the previous days, but instead a detour caused by a sign pointing us to one of our favorite wineries, Rancho Sisquoc. We found Rancho Sisquoc on our first visit to Santa Maria a year and a half earlier. We joined the wine club then and have never once been disappointed by any other their wines. The winery has been producing small quantities of wine for over 40 years. Their 300+ acres of vineyards includes a wide selection of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and more. All of their estate wines are superb whether a 100% varietals or one of their perfect blends.
Our next stop included wine tasting and lunch at the stunning Presquile Winery. Set atop a high hill overlooking the ocean, rolling hills and beautiful vineyards, this winery was meant to stop and savor not only the views but wines as well. Presquile features exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varietals. We tasted through 4 of their Pinot’s and an amazing estate Syrah. While we enjoyed the two estate Pinot’s our preference was the Santa Maria Valley wine with nice spicy notes. For lunch, we took advantage of their artisan charcuterie and cheese platters which were the perfect accompaniment to the wines.
We ended the day with an incredible dinner at Trattoria Uliveto. Featuring tradition Italian cuisine, an extensive wine list and warm, comfortable atmosphere Trattoria Uliveto was the perfect end to our day.