I recently celebrated my 29th Birthday by having 29 tastings in beautiful Solvang California!! My husband set up a fantastic surprise trip where I was told to pack a bag and stay thirsty! Fun fact-it takes only 2 hours to drive from the Valley to the Solvang/Los Olivos area, and the coastal views are so beautiful that time will fly by.
Here is my guide to a blissful 24 hours spent in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Where to Stay
The Hotel Corque is located in the heart of Solvang so you can ditch the car and imbibe safely on foot!
Where to Drink
It’s easy to forget the stops you make on a wine trail, but here are some of the ones that were so good that I still remember them :)
- Carhartt Vineyard in Los Olivos was our first stop and I recommend it be yours too. They have a gorgeous garden outside with upbeat country rock music playing, plus the owner’s son is always around giving the history of this family run vineyard. Sort of makes you want to abandon city life to pick grapes and play guitar.
- Saarloos and Sons in Los Olivos. Perhaps the best idea in history, this tasting room offers wine paired with…cupcakes! While this was an experience I thought lived only in my dreams, the reality was that the cupcakes were far superior to the wines they were meant to highlight :(
- Artiste Winery & Tasting Studio in Los Olivos. I was a little intimated to sit bar style facing the proprietors, but it ended up becoming a dialogue of tasting notes! Not a surprise that we were coerced into buying 3 bottles, but each is a work of art with labels created by a contemporary impressionist. So it’s basically an artistic investment.
- Presidio Vineyard & Winery in Solvang Our last stop was just a stones throw from the hotel and the perfect way to end the day. Although the tastings were a little pricier, the wine was worth it and the wine ambassador made sure to keep the crackers and chocolates coming. I’m assuming we looked like we needed it…
Where to eat
- Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez.
Don’t let the saloon-like strip mall fool you, the Italian food served here tastes as fresh as Italy. I recommend the Rollino Veneto to start, or get one of their famed pizzas. Just makes sure you taste their dough! As an entrée I had the calamari alla positano, which is calamari stuffed with mozzarella. For Dessert-tiramisu. Unfortunately yours will probably not come with a candle :)
If you truly want to feel like you’ve traveled years and miles away, then have dinner at the Ballard Inn. The restaurant only has 12 tables and is located in a dimly lit room off the lobby. The food is fantastic and fresh, and the wait-staff will feel like family by dessert. Following a day of drinking my appetite was not at its usual level, so I did not have an appetizer, but my entrée was more than memorable! I can still taste the lamb with edamame puree…
Who to Take
Solvang is great to take anyone, but if you’re lucky someone special will take YOU there. Many thanks to my husband for making the start of 29 my tastiest and more fruitful year yet!