Up the Coast…Wine Tasting in Orcutt

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I love packing in a bunch of great activities in quick weekend trip.  My friend’s Dan & Jerry picked me up early last Saturday morning for a ride up the California coast to Santa Maria for our friends, Courtney, Mark and Brian’s, family wine tasting…and what a fun 24 hours it was!  I’d had a crazy week of unpacking and moving and I told Jerry that I would probably sleep the whole way up the coast, but, no, we talked the entire time. There’s nothing like a long car ride to catch up on each other’s lives and families…and the view of the water from Hwy 101 doesn’t hurt either!

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We arrived in Santa Maria around 11:30, just in time to find somewhere to sample the famous Santa Maria tri-tip. We stopped at Rancho Nipomo BBQ for lunch and we were not disappointed.  The tri-tip sandwich was yummy, as were the fries, although we had mixed opinions on the BBQ sauce.

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Our next stop was the main event for the weekend…..the open house and wine tasting of the Aether Wine Company in nearby Orcutt. As we arrived and checked in, we were given beautiful wine goblets with a custom made Aether logo, made by Courtney, affixed to each glass.  It was a gorgeous day among the vineyard at C2 Cellars, with the perfect breeze blowing, tasty bites to nibble on, soothing live music and the atmosphere was just so cool!  We sampled the 2013 bottles, one-Chardonnay and four-Pinot Noirs.  I had already purchased a couple of bottles of Chardonnay a few months back so knew what to expect.  It’s light and leans toward a European Chardonnay….perfect for a summer evening.  I mostly drink & prefer Chardonnay, but when I do drink red, it’s usually a Pinot, as it’s a little lighter in the red family…as opposed to a Cabernet or a Merlot.  The Pinots were quite different, and all yummy. The Santa Barbara County Pinot is a blend from three wineries, while the other three, Pence, Matrix and La Colline are single vineyard varietals.  I’m no wine expert, so I’m not going to try to explain the nuances of each Pinot, but I can tell you that I liked the La Colline the best.  If you’re a real oenophile and need a more in-depth explanation of each, just click on the links to check out each one…and buy a bottle or two.  We continued our wine journey in the cellar with some barrel tastings that were so different and some so complex that it really made you notice the distinct contrasts in the wines and understand how people get so entranced with the whole wine world.  It’s pretty interesting stuff!

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We went back to our hotel for a much needed nap before dinner at Trattoria Uliveto in Orcutt.  We had already been tempted with the food of Chef Alonso Curti earlier in the day, as he had catered the wine tasting, so we knew it would be good.  There was quite a large group of us, so he suggested that we allow him to choose our meal and serve it family style.  Great idea and great food…from the salad to the lamb chop to the dessert, I can’t even remember how many courses we had.  The wine….some from Aether’s barrels that I can’t wait to buy next year….was flowing, the conversation and company stellar and just a great end to the day.

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IMAG4870We woke up and got on the road early to check out the “best breakfast ever” (quote from Sharon) at Kay’s Orcutt Country Kitchen.  It was really good & I’d recommend it…the best ever we’d have to debate (although I’m not much of a breakfast aficionado, so don’t pay attention to me on this one.)  After breakfast we took a quick stroll in old downtown Orcutt and checked out a couple of cool vintage/antique stores (I got this past “motivational monday” wall hanging here) before starting the journey back down the 101 home.

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Thanks to Aether Wines for a great weekend and the perfect reason to head up the California coast with friends.

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You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

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