A Weekend in the Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Valley is home to six towns: Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Solvang and Santa Ynez. It features more than 100 wineries, 30+ unique accommodations for every price point, chef-driven cuisine, and when possible, festive events, all painted into atmospheric backdrops which colorfully mesh Old World, Old West, Victorian-era, and mid-century to modern Danish.
Orange trees and ocean views make up the very scenic drive from Santa Clarita to the Santa Ynez Valley, it takes just under two hours to get there. We had reserved a room at the Santa Ynez Inn and were greeted with champagne, chocolates and a welcome note, we both agreed that maybe two nights was just not going to be long enough! Our room was amazing, with a jetted tub, luxurious bedding, a balcony and a fireplace with a one click remote!
The Santa Ynez Inn is a luxurious AAA Four Diamond Inn. They offer a full, made-to-order gourmet breakfast, a nightly wine hour paired with individual charcuterie boards, choose to cozy up by a warm fire in their beautifully decorated parlour or around one of the firepits in the expansive garden area. Enjoy a well deserved night cap in the library where they feature a fine selection of Scotch and American whiskey. Before turning in for the night, relax with a little something sweet, seasonal desserts are offered nightly in the lobby. During your stay enjoy complimentary tastings for two at their partner wineries.
During your stay there, don’t forget to visit their newly remodeled spa, indulge your seses, soothe your soul and reresh your body.
For more more information on the Santa Ynez Inn please visit www.santaynezinn.com or call 805-688-5588.
The Gathering Table: If you are looking for a recommendation for a fabulous dining experience, Zagat® Rated – The Gathering Table, located at the Ballard Inn, is an absolute must! Chef-Owner Budi Kazali melds Asian and French cuisine and features seasonal, locally sourced produce, seafood and meats, complemented by a lengthy list of local vintages. Chef Budi first started cooking for his roommates in college as a way to avoid washing dishes! He enjoyed cooking so much he went on to attend culinary school and worked his way through the kitchens of some of the best restaurants on the East and West Coasts. Budi and his wife Chirs, purchased the Ballard Inn in 2004 and they have won several awards and been voted among the best in California’s Central Coast. For more information please visit www.ballardinn.com/restaurant or call: 805-688-7770.
GLOBAL GARDENS: We spent a glorious sunny morning tasting olive oils and natural fruit vinegars with Theo Stephan owner of Global Gardens. We listened while Theo reminisced about her frequent (before COVID) visits to Greece, where she learned the importance of pairing olive oil with food. She is not only an olive oil sommelier but author of her own cook book. All of her products are available at globalgardensonline.com or join her “Clubbies” for special deals. 805-686-4111.
BOB’S WELL BREAD: Ahh! Breakfast with Bob! The bread and pastries are absolutely delicious. Owner Bob Oswaks, former president of worldwide Sony Pictures, founded Bob’s Well Bread in 2011 to get away from city life! — his business has quickly become a landmark in Santa Ynez with 2 locations one in Los Alamos and one in Ballard. You will find that everything served is handmade with only the finest ingredients and natural starters. Bob’s Well Bread strives to source ingredients locally using farmers and growers who practice the purest growing initiatives. Visit their website at www.bobswellbread.com or call for a reservation at 805-344-3000.
The Lucky Hen Larder: Picked up a picnic lunch at The Lucky Hen Larder. Impossible to choose just one, but eventually decided to get the freshly roasted turkey breast with cranberry/fig compote, triple cream Brie, pancetta, arugula and rosemary!
The Lucky Hen believes in real food researched to the source, produced by like-minded people. All items are made in small batches that are tasted and adjusted with each rendition. Food is made fresh daily without corn syrup, preservatives, GMO, food dyes or anything artificial. Only the finest, freshest seasonal ingredients are used, resulting in a delicious and good-for-you end product. For more information visit their website: theluckyhenlarder.com or call them at 805-691-9448.
STORM WINERY: With our delicious picnic box in hand, we headed over to Los Olivos and Storm Winery tasting room. We had the pleasure of meeting wine maker Ernst Storm and his lovely wife Brooke, pictured here. Ernst Storm grew up in South Africa and worked as a winemaker in the Stellenbosch region of SA. Looking for something different, Ernst took a job in the Sierra Foothills of California. After working with several wineries, he fell in love with Santa Barbara County and started Storm with just 6 barrels in 2006. Their wines are handcrafted using a combination of Old and New World winemaking techniques. From being present while picking the grapes in the early morning hours, to basket pressing, to only using gravity on the red wines. Fining and filtration is only done when necessary and on white wines. Thus, making sure their wines express the unique qualities their fruit embodies due to its local environment. For more information visit their website at www.stormwines.com or call them for reservations at: 805-350-9456.
ROBLAR WINERY: Nestled in an oak tree-studded 40-acre vineyard located in the heart of Santa Barbara County, Roblar Winery and Vineyards reflects the spirit of Santa Ynez Valley – rustic, authentic, and bold. Their philosophy is to foster a unique visitor experience of bringing together great wine, great food, and great friends. During our visit, we were so lucky to meet Michelle Vener, Director of the Tasting Room, and General Manager Matthew Bieszard (pictured below). Michelle treated us to her favorite wines and gave us a tour of their fabulous winery. She explained a little about their private experiences, so if you are planning a wedding or gathering, Roblar Winery can accommodate you, just give Michelle a call.
Their Executive Chef, Brooke Stockwell curates a beautiful menu created from the fresh produce they harvest weekly off their next door Roblar Farm, which by the way is available for rent and can accommodate up to 10 guests for a fun weekend or longer.
For more information please call 805-686-2603 or visit www.roblarwinery.com.
The Buellton Hitching Post II: On the Central Coast of California, BBQ has always meant grilling over an open fire of red oak, a style of cooking that is native to the area and goes back to the days of the Spanish Rancheros. By combining the old and the new, The Hitching Post 11 have created an exciting cuisine with outstanding steaks, ribs and chicken, along with fresh fish and seafood and vegetarian options. They also create their own (world class) wines for sale in the restaurant and to the public. Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wines have garnered an excellent reputation. From the exposure in Sideways, Hitching Post Wines have gained in popularity. The winery refuses to raise their prices, so the wines sell out fairly quickly. Along with ten selections of Pinot Noir, they produce two Syrahs and a Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend named Generation Red, the house wine for the Hitching Post II.
To make a reservation please call: 805-688-0676 or visit their website at: www.hitchingpost2.com
MAD & VIN: The modern and sophisticated restaurant Mad & Vin, is located in the charming Landsby hotel in downtown Solvang. They specialize in delicious wine-country inspired cuisine crafted by their chef, Beto Huizar. Each dish is made with fresh, seasonal ingredients from California’s central coast.
They also serve traditional and craft cocktails, specialty shrubs, beer, and acclaimed, locally produced wine.
For more information please call 805-688-3121 or visit their website at www.thelandsby.com/dining/
photos by Jim Bartsch, Tenley Fohl, Ali Beck Photograph & Moe Hafizi
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