Sunday, June 17, 2012 / 35 Comments / , , ,

Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Girls' Trip {Travel}

 The weekend was bittersweet. Well, mostly sweet with just a pinch of bitter. Sunday we celebrated Father's Day by making breakfast for my parents, Yummy Hubby, and the girls. A spinach, cherry tomato, and goat cheese frittata. And pastries I didn't have time to make, from Whole Foods. 

Saturday was a special mommies day of wine tasting. Our fabulous group of 5 mommies has been getting together for play-dates since our firstborn babies were only weeks old. These girls are like therapy - whatever life throws at us, we are there to support each other. And now one of my best friends is moving halfway across the world with her family. Another is off to Hawaii for several months with her family. And it feels like our "fabulous five" is down to three. So we decided we needed a girls' day to spend together... knowing it would be the last for awhile. None of us employ regular nannies or babysitters, we're not the moms who "lunch" or shop together. We're virtually with our kids all the time, so it can be tough to find adult-only time, but it's necessary. Everyone needs some adult interaction and girlfriend time once in awhile. A 40 minute drive up to the Santa Ynez Valley wineries was just what we needed to relax and enjoy each other.

While I have been to tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County plenty of times, I have never had such an educational, beautiful, and fun experience as I did this time. We enlisted Stagecoach Wine Tours to drive and coordinate tastings. Stagecoach has exclusive agreements with various wineries that are not generally open to the public.  I highly recommend going this route and using Stagecoach if you're visiting Santa Barbara wineries.
Our first stop, and my favorite stop, was Harrison Clarke Winery.  Mr. Harrison took the 4 of us girls (one of the fab 5 was too sick to attend) on a private tour through his vineyard. He explained how the limestone in the ground of his property impacts his grapes, when he waters and why, and so much more fascinating information I've never gotten just from vising tasting rooms. His wife, Ms. Clarke showed us through a dark room of barrels and let us taste the same wine at 6 months, 18 months, and fully matured. It was amazing to taste the difference. At the same time, Mr. Clarke was placing labels on his wine bottles - we felt lucky to watch this family-run business work. Oh and the wine! It was some of the best I've tasted. We all bought a bottle or two here. You can order their wines here. (This is not an ad - I just think they are really delicious).

Our next visit was to Bella Cavalli Farms & Vineyard. Again I was grateful to have a guide, as Bella Cavalli is only open to its wine club members and Stagecoach Tours. The drive up the lushly landscaped entrance was in itself breathtaking. Being a horse lover, walking through the stables smelling the alfalfa hay and leather, hearing the nickering horses... was a little slice of heaven. Lunch in the sun with wine (and eating without picking up bits of food flung from a toddler!) was icing on the cake.

Left: Me  Right: Ronda (thank goodness she's not moving away! Oh - random aside, if you've been reading this blog a long time you know Ronda started Yummy Mummy with me!) at our last stop, Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards Tasting Room. We sat under bright yellow umbrellas in front of the charming big red barn tasting room basking in the breezy 80 degree weather. A welcomed escape from Santa Barbara's infamous June Gloom. The actual vineyard/winery is private - too private for visitors- but the wine was so good, and the tasting room property so lovely, that we didn't miss seeing the vines.

Every time I visit Santa Ynez I feel like I'm in a completely different country. Italy or France maybe. Somewhere where the pace is a bit slower and surely the people take daily siestas. There's something about seeing nothing but rolling hills, vineyards, and sleepy cows that does that to you I guess. There's going to be some sadness as my dear friends move, but I'm so glad to have memories of special girls' trips like this one. And a special thanks to the amazing daddies who were on daddy duty all day so that us mommies could play.

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