Wednesday, February 16, 2011


On Saturday as part of our itinerary for the weekend we went wine tasting on Lower State Street in Santa Barbara. Although this area is surrounded by beautiful vineyards it was just far too out of our price range this time around to go that route.

With our luck we were able to find a nice little area with several wineries to satisfy our planned festivity for part of the day. We planned on going to 3 wineries but after the first one with 6 wines tasted I knew we would only be able to handle one more tasting without having to call a taxi to transport us back to our rental home.

The first winery we visited was the Oreana Winery. We got to taste 6 different wines for $10 each and Camille, my sister and myself ended up buying a bottle of their Pinot Noir. I also got a new fancy cork stopper with a kitty cat in nickel. I've become so fascinated with cat items ever since I became a cat owner almost 2 years ago now. But I do keep my fascination tamed as to not become a cat lady.

Here is a spot of history on the Oreana Winery. The Old Bob Woolever’s Tire Shop was vacant and abandoned, looking like a sad scar in the downtown “Funk Zone.” Christian Garvin swung by one night on the way to dinner and thought the space looked mighty enticing. After a dinner drink or two, he returned to the old shop and sat in the parking lot for about an hour. With Santa Barbara Winery right across the street and Craig Jaffurs just around the corner, it seemed ideal. A phone call to a few friends filled the place up quicker than you can say “rotate the tires,” and Cellar 205 was born (now Oreana Winery). The tire shop had some great winemaking attributes including lots of electric power concrete floors and a brick structure that is ideal for climate control and barrel storage.

Nearly four years later Oreana Winery is known for two things - great wines and fabulous parties. From small batches of Pinot Noir to our sizeable Red Table Wine, Oreana has a wine for everyone. Current production is about 10,000 cases but some lots are as small as 20 cases. Our award winning Pinot program and Sparkling wines continue to generate rave reviews from Wine Spectator, the Wall Street Journal and Wine Enthusiast. We are never too busy to have a good time and all that time spent listening to the grape press and waiting for wine to age gives us lots of opportunities to come up with weird ideas for parties. Previous celebrations have included: Cinema in the Cellar featuring Jaws & King Kong, an Evening of Sea Shanty talent show, The Beaver Moon Harvest Party, the annual RocktoberFest concert series, Weiners & Wine Hot Dog extravaganza, and one time when a guy just played the bagpipes. It was standing room only…

After enjoying some live tunes from a local fellow in the parking lot of the winery we casually strolled across the street to our second winery and tasting at the Santa Barbara Winery. Even though we thought the first winery was busy we were in for a surprise when walked in to find the entire counter crowded with people. The reason for this was one that they gave you a tasting of 6 wines for $5 along with a complimentary wine glass to boot and the wine is just that good. We found a spot on the far wall close to the barrels for all ten of us next to these two sweet little older ladies. I ended up striking up a conversation with them. Which I tend to do quite frequently when I've had a few. They were best friends both from Cape Cod visiting this area for a week. This was their last stop before hopping on a bus to the LAX airport. They were so kind as to allow us to take their place at the counter after they wrapped up their tasting and made some purchases of souvenirs.

Here is some brief history on the Santa Barbra Winery. In 1962 Pierre Lafond opens the first winery in Santa Barbara County since prohibition. It would be more than ten years before a second winery opens, today, there are over 100.
In 1964 Santa Barbara Winery moves to its present location in downtown Santa Barbara at Yanonali and Anacapa streets two blocks from the beach.
In 1965 Demattei and Nielson plant the first vineyard in the county since prohibition, 100 acres. Today there are over 20,000 acres.
In 1971 Lafond Vineyards 65 acres are planted in the Santa Rita Hills at the western tip of the Santa Ynez Valley.
In 1981 Bruce McGuire becomes Winemaker.
In 1996 Lafond Vineyards purchases additional property accross the river and plants 30 acres of Pinot Noir and Syrah.
In 1998 Construction begins of the new Lafond Winery. David Lafond is the General Contractor and Pierre Lafond the Architect.
In 2000 First harvest at the new Lafond Winery.
In 2001 Spring. The Lafond Winery is open to visitors.
In 2001 Summer. Santa Rita Hills at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley is recognized by the BATF (part of the Treasury Department which controls appellations) as a separate and distinct viticultural area. Distinct in climate and geography permitting wines grown in this cool and unique growing area to be identified as Santa Rita Hills.
In 2002 Spring. Lafond Winery releases its SRH wines made exclusively from grapes grown in the Santa Rita Hills appellation. These 3 wines, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay receive 10 medals between them.
In 2003 January. Lafond Winery and Vineyards sends its first Wine Club shipment to almost 100 members.
In 2005 Winter. The release of the movie Sideways raises awareness of Pinot Noir and the Santa Ynez Valley.
In 2006 Fall. Lafond Winery Wine Club Membership has now almost reached 1,000. We will have to limit it to 1,000 because many of our small lots are under 200 cases and it would make it almost impossible to meet shipments and re-orders.
In 2009 Spring. Lafond Vineyards leases 37 acres from Burning Creek Ranch, adjoining the Lafond Vineyard, and begins planting Pinot Noir from 8 selected clones.

We all (except for Amber) enjoyed our wine tasting excursion and afterwards half of us had to make a quick dash for Crushcakes Cupcakery less than a mile away to pick-up our red velvet cupcakes that were to compliment our Sunday brunch the following day. Even though it was so close in proximity to the wineries we had one hell of a time getting there with all the one way streets and with the wine in our bellies. Thanks to Tiffany and her navigation on her iPhone 4 and Amy's brilliant driving skills we made it just in time 5 minutes before closing and we left with our cupcakes safe in our mini van for all to enjoy during brunch.

No comments:

Post a Comment