Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Grape Line

So if you haven't figured it out already, we didn't have internet access during our long weekend in Santa Barbara. I've been blogging the days since we returned home last night, but I've been back-dating them to the actual date when the events occurred, so they look right when I go back to read them on my blog.

Onto Saturday...

Todd booked us an all-day winery tour with The Grape Line.  The shuttle bus picked us up around 9:20am, then we went to other hotels to pick up the other participants.  At the last hotel, we picked up ten girls on a bachelorette party wine tour!  Wineries in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley sort of sprung up in the last 40 years, but the wine tours really became a lot more popular after the movie "Sideways" in 2004.  There are over 150 wineries and tasting rooms in the Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara area.  Today we would visit four wineries and have a picnic box lunch.  Just a disclaimer:  Todd and I know NOTHING about wines, so I'll probably say all kinds of things that wine connoisseurs will scoff at.  Sorry in advance!

Kris, our tour guide, and Armando, our driver, were super-friendly and nice.  The all-inclusive tour was awesome because you didn't have to worry about the tasting fees at each winery.  You pay The Grape Line one set amount, and they take care of all the tasting fees at each winery.  Kris also boxed up all our complimentary wine glasses from each winery and put our names on the boxes.  AND she kept track of all the wine that everyone bought and put our names on there too.  That way nobody loses track of their stuff, after a full-day of wine tasting, LOL.

Driving into the Santa Ynez Valley was amazing.  We went through some mountain passes and saw all the green backcountry, as well as Lake Cachuma.

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After about 45 minutes, we arrived at the first winery, a little boutique called Curtis Winery, actually owned by the Firestone family.  Yea, remember that dude on The Bachelor, Andrew Firestone?  He's one of the active owners of this winery.  Looks like he got married and had a kid, but NOT to one of the contestants.  The Curtis Winery specializes in Rhone varieties. We were whisked into their barrel/tasting room.  It was COLD in there! One thing I did learn on the tour is that wine tasting usually goes from white to red. So this first one was a 2007 Viognier.
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We got a brief tour of their facilities. These are the fermentation tanks.
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We got to try six different wines at Curtis Winery, and they had some pretzels with some delicious (and hot!) dips! We met a couple from LA named Liz and Lindsay (girl + guy) who were very entertaining. We continued to hang out with them at the other wineries.

Awesome view from outside the Curtis Winery.
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Next winery was The Brander Vineyard. The tasting was outside and our host was incredibly entertaining and fun. 
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We had a picnic box lunch here in the courtyard of the winery. It was at this winery that I really started to feel the effects of the wine tasting. Let's just say that I got super-talkative during lunch. I'm usually shy and reserved around strangers, but not to Liz and Lindsay! I talked and talked and asked them all kinds of questions. Turned out that Lindsay is a psychiatrist in LA, specializing in anxiety disorders.  My ears perked up when he said he specialized in anxiety disorders, so I told him that I had been reading the book "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook", to help me understand and practice coping strategies with my anxiety.  He said he has that book.  Anyways, then we talked about OCD and hoarders too.  It was fun.  His wife Liz is a marriage/family therapist, so they have that similarity. 

After lunch we got into our shuttle and left for the next winery.  Here's a parting photo of Brander.
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Next winery was Firestone, which ironically, is no longer owned by the Firestone family and has to pay a license fee every year to use the name. Todd was especially interested since he's from Akron, Ohio (the one-time tire capital of the world) and went to Firestone high school.
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We had our tasting down in the cellar, where there were lots of barrels.
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I decided that every winery stop will have one of these glass photos with people in the background.
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The tasting list.
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At this winery we hung out with a couple from Temecula. They were super-fun too. He was British, but she was not. Sometimes it's just fun to talk to someone with a British accent, especially after having some wine!

Next and last stop, is the Fess Parker Winery. Fess Parker played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on TV. It just happens that he passed away at the age of 85 last Thursday. We wondered if the winery would be open, but it was.  This winery was really gorgeous.

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The place was hopping! This was probably the most crowded of all the wineries we went to today. Notice the little coonskin hat emblem on there?
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By now some of us were... tipsy. So there was spontaneous singing of the theme to the show "Davy Crockett".

A cool view of the window to the outside from inside the tasting room.
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Most of us fell asleep on the shuttle ride back to Santa Barbara. Todd took photos of people sprawled about, but I'm not showing it on the blog, LOL. When it came time to drop people off, some of them had to be waken up with quite a few pats on the shoulder. As for me... well, let's just say I took a nap before heading out to dinner at Cava in downtown Montecito. And even then, I didn't feel like eating my awesome calamari salad, LOL. No worries though, I felt better in a couple of hours. What can I say, I am a lightweight since I don't drink wine or alcohol regularly. :p

After dinner, we went back to our room and watched the DVD we brought, a documentary about LeBron James called "More Than A Game", which was excellent, by the way. If you're a basketball fan, you would want to watch it.

3 comments:

  1. I must say Todd did an excellent job planning this weekend.

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  2. lol..I am a total lightweight, too, I would have been 'napping' on the bus, too.

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  3. Wow, this looks like a wonderful day! We wanted to do something like this when we went to SF, but then a lot of other stuff took all the time. Oh well, Napa valley will probably be there next time too. =)

    I'm so impressed of the beautiful surroundings, and what a well planed trip this looks like. But after four different tastings I would probably be a little tipsy to. :P It is not so much in each glass, but when they add up it becomes quite a lot.

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