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New Year, New Itineraries…

Another New Years has come and gone; now replaced by old man winters icy grip and the doldrums of winter. The past few weeks have been down right miserable for many in the United States, especially those of us in the Northeast. We’ve suffered through 2 ½ weeks of miserable cold which finally broke this past Saturday and provided us with a much needed 40 degree heat wave. I for one was ready to throw on my shorts, set a lawn chair up outside and enjoy some frozen tropical drinks!

When its cold like this, I look to look ahead to the warmer months of boating and BBQ’s and I also like reviewing my upcoming travel plans so I can figure out where I will be in the world this year. One of the trips I am really looking forward to is Santa Barbara, California in March. My wife and I will be traveling across country to visit family in beautiful Santa Barbara. I have been to California several times, but never to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara bills itself as “The American Riviera,” it is located on the pacific coast nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and is approximately an hour north of Los Angeles and 3 hours south of San Francisco. The land was originally settled by ancestors of the Chumash Indians who were then followed by the first Europeans who were Spanish missionaries that arrived 1782. Following the Mexican-American war Santa Barbara and the rest of California became part of the expanding United States.

For wine enthusiasts, you will remember that Santa Barbara is where the movie “Sideways’ was filmed. In the movie “Sideways,” (Miles) Paul Giamatti and (Jack) Thomas Haden Church take a wine tasting road trip to salute Jack’s final days as a bachelor. You can even plan a trip to follow the exact route that “Miles and Jack” took on their journey by visiting:

http://www.santabarbaraca.com/docs/forms/FinalSideways09-web2.pdf

For those not wanting to follow the exact footsteps of “Miles and Jack,” Santa Barbara County offers 3 American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) which host a large number of wineries. The AVA’s are broken down as follows:

Santa Maria Valley- This is the northernmost AVA and was the first to gain that distinction. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the two main varietals that come from this region.

Santa Ynez Valley- This AVA is an east/west corridor that runs from the cooler coastal climates to the warmer inland climate. Because of its climate range there are several varietals that do well in this region including Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Merlot. The latter being Miles’s “favorite” choice in the movie “Sideways”!

Sta Rita Hills- This area is actually located within the Santa Ynez Valley. The Santa Barbara county wine website states that “A typical day in Sta Rita Hills starts with marine layer clouds and fog, which burn off by 10am; there are then two or three hours of calm sunshine until the on-shore winds pick up, cooling things down again. This maritime influence, combined with the sedimentary soils with patches of limestone is the perfect place to grow the appellation’s hallmark Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”

Aside from the 3 sanctioned AVA’s, there is also the Los Alamos region, which is also looking to one day become a federal sanctioned AVA.

Los Alamos- Located between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley, this region produces a wide variety of varietals due to its complex climate and soil composition.

For more information on Santa Barbara County’s wine region visit:

http://www.sbcountywines.com/SBC.html

As we trudge our way through the rest of January and February I will be looking forward to and planning our trip to Santa Barbara. Be sure to check back in late March as I will be doing a write up on all the wineries we visit.

For more information about Santa Barbara you can visit:

http://www.santabarbaraca.gov/

http://www.santabarbaraca.com/

If you decide to go to Santa Barbara County you can fly into Santa Barbara Airport or Los Angeles International Airport which is about an hour south. If you are within the state of California you can also take Amtrak which has a stop in Santa Barbara city or take a drive on U.S. 101 which bisects the city of Santa Barbara.

Until next time, Salude!

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