There’s nothing like a wine tasting tour– get in your car, enjoy the scenery, stop off at a picturesque small (or not so small) tasting room, sample, spit, have a nosh or a nibble, repeat. Well, now there something like it, the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. Same concept with a different execution: lose the car and use your feet. Advantages to this tasting strategy include a variety of producers in close proximity, restaurants nearby and the fact that you don’t need to spit or have a designated driver (sorry Uber).
I love a good wine tasting tour. For me, varietals are the spice of life. The more I get to sample, analyze and process the happier I am. (I tend to order a mixed grill, cioppino or chef’s tasting menu whenever I get the chance.) Let’s just say that I was very happy to find the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.
Santa Barbara is a great walking city– wander off its main artery, State Street, and end up at the beach, the marina, the courthouse, a theatre, a museum or any number of spankin’ new tasting rooms. The SB Urban Wine Trail is a consortium of 25 tasting rooms, each of which offers a menu or two of their latest offerings and a map to get you to your next stop on the Trail. We were only in Santa Barbara for 2 nights/3 days, so I didn’t get to try all 25. Here are some notes on a few of my faves:
Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail
Grassini Family Vineyards, 813 Anacapa Street, Suite #6
Katrina took us through a number of delightful Bordeaux varietals from the family winery in the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Ynez. The 2013 Grassini Sauvignon Blanc was crisp yet full bodied, no discernible oak to weigh it down. The reds were also carefully crafted– I especially enjoyed the juicy black fruit and smooth tannins of the 2012 Articondo Bordeaux Blend. The fact that Grassini employs sustainable winemaking practices further enhanced my appreciation.
Kunin Wines, 28 Anacapa Street
Kunin’s tasting room is in the Funk Zone a few blocks from the beach. We were treated to some great stories and generous pours from Robbie, who’s been enjoying his gig for the past four years (who wouldn’t?). Greg opted for the Classic Tasting of five wines, including the cleverly named Pape Star Rhône Blends (a white and a red). I got serious with Syrahs: the 2013 Larner, 2008 Alisos, 2007 Alisos and the 2007 Santa Barbarine. The Santa Barbarine stood out for its style and the story of its partnership with the Gangloffs of France’s Côte-Rôtie.
Jamie Slone Wines, 23 East De La Guerra Street
Kym and Jamie sure seem to love what they do! And they do it all, producing premium, limited production wines featuring Bordeaux, Burgundian & Rhône varietals. Their wines capitalize on the myriad micro-climates found in Santa Barbara County: from a partially oaked Sauvignon Blanc to a “BoRific” Bordeaux blend aged two years in French oak. We were so taken with their 2012 Pinot Noir– delicate yet powerful, nicely nuanced, gorgeous fruit– that we bought a couple of bottles to take home.
Deep Sea Tasting Room Conway Family Wines, 217 G Sterns Wharf
That’s right, right on the wharf. What a great way to end the day, watching the sunset over the water while you’re actually over the water yourself. The Conway family are nature, animal and art lovers who “walk the talk” with their sustainable agricultural and vineyard practices. The care they take is evident in the wine they pour: I’d provide specifics, but this was our tenth tasting in two days. Suffice it to say that it was a great experience, fine wine, sun, sea and a celebrity sighting (“Harry Crane” from “Mad Men”).
Next time: Margerum, Pali Wine Company, Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara Winery, Carr Vineyards and Winery, Silver, Kalyra, AVA Santa Barbara, Lafond Winery… the list goes on!
I received compensation in order to bring information about Santa Barbara to this blog. All opinions are my own.