I love Santa Barbara. It is definitely my favorite place in California. You have wine country, the mountains, the beach, the sun, and perfect temperatures all year round. (Disclaimer: when I say wine country, I mean really good wine country. Not like that of the other Southern California wine region which shall remain nameless.)
I hadn’t been to Santa Barbara since well before we moved to Sydney so it has probably been about four years since my last visit. I was itching to get back there and luckily Sister and Paul wanted to go, too. We hit the open road for a long drive to SB so once we got there we were ready to quench our thirst. First stop- wine! Santa Barbara has a few different wine valleys and all of them are excellent. We decided to focus on the wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley, home to two of our favorite boutique wineries, Sunstone and Kalyra.
Sunstone has a great tasting room in the style of a provencal french winery and their wines are certified organic and bio-sustainable. All of which make me very happy to support and enjoy. Sunstone produces a great viognier as well as some nice reds and what’s wonderful about this boutique winery is that they even have the wine makers pouring the wine.
After Sunstone, we went to our most favorite winery, Kalyra. It’s actually owned by the Brown Brothers who are Australian and produce some fantastic wines down under. And no, it’s not our favorite because we lived in Australia. We actually have been going to this winery since they opened their doors, well before we even knew Australia would be in our future. Now it’s kind of fitting for us even more so and it fixes our craving for some good ol’ Aussie Shiraz and Semillon. One of the things I like about Kalyra, other than it being, “a wild and pleasant place” as their Aboriginal name states, but they feature wines from Australian and Santa Barbara that have blended together. The other thing is that the staff is always friendly, generous with their pours and overall, it’s just a great wine spot. If you like dessert wine, they make a mean orange muscat… definitely one of the best stickies we’ve ever had.
On a side note, Kalyra was also featured in the movie “Sideways”. You know, the one that gave Merlot a bad wrap. Yeah, that one. Unfortunately, there have been some changes to the winery itself as result of the movie being filmed there and it’s definitely more crowded than it was five years ago, but it’s still a quality winery.
After our wine tasting, we headed to what I think is the ultra touristy Solvang, which is considered, “the Danish capital of America.” It’s this windmill lined, Danish architecture filled town selling clogs and garden gnomes with windows of delicious pastries in the middle of wine country. Of course we needed something sugary and sweet to go along with our tastings so naturally we had to have a Danish pastry tasting at the various shops. Once we were satisfied with our tastings and after we took heaps of touristy photos we finally headed back to Santa Barbara’s State Street for some dinner and drinks and turned in for the evening.
The next day was spent relaxing along the beach and going for a coastal cycle ride in our “beach tuk-tuk.” After our two hour work out, we hit the pier for some much needed libations followed by ice cream followed by more libations and live music at a new wine bar on the pier. It was a great way to end our weekend in SB. As you can see, we like to eat and drink when in SB. It’s not good for the waist line, but it sure is good fun. I hope we’ll be back soon.