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Santa Barbara to Cambria, CA…Part 2

Day 2 found us on our way to Cambria, California.  We hopped on the 101 and headed north up the coast. Our first stop on the way to Cambria was the Laetitia Winery which was located right off the freeway between San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.  The Laetitia website states that planting on the land began in 1982 by French viticulturists from the champagne house, Champagne Deutz.  The winery was named Maison Deutz and operated until 1997 when Jean-Claude Tardivat purchased the property and named it Laetitia after his daughter.  In 2001, Selim Zilkha, who had previously been a partner of Tardivat, assumed leadership of the winery and brand. Laetitia has a reputation in the area for sparking wines and exceptional Pinot Noirs.  A tasting at Laetitia will cost you $10, but if you purchase 1 or more bottles your tasting fee will be returned to you.

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Below is a partial list of wines we tasted while visiting Laetitia Winery:

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Laetitia Non-Vintage XD

“Aromas of fresh apple, lemon zest, meringue and light toastiness greet the nose, while on the palate the brisk impression is balanced with delicious sweetness.  This wine will pair beautifully with orange, apple, or light fruit driven desserts.”

We purchased the Non-Vintage XD; it was a great price and great taste.

Laetitia Estate Chardonnay

“Mineral and fruity with delicate aromas of jasmine, lychee and tea rose that transition into lemon drop, ripe pear and green apple flavors.  A smoky, spicy anise character that weaves through the honeyed finish.”

We also purchased this wine which had a great price and excellent taste.

Nadia Red 2005

“A Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The Nadia Red wine embodies the potential of the Santa Barbara highlands Vineyard.  The wine releases generous blue and red fruit notes.”

If you’d like to visit the Laetitia Vineyard, it is located at 453 Laetitia Dr., Arroyo Grande, CA 93420; you can also visit their website at http://laetitiawine.com/index.php

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From Laetitia, we jumped back on the 101 and headed to Morro Bay, California which is located in San Luis Obispo County. Morro Bay is known for the giant Morro rock that sits in the entrance of the harbor.  It is one of 9 volcanic plugs also known as the “Nine Sisters,” that stretch in a line up the coast. Besides being a tourist attraction, the city of Morro Bay also operates a working fishing port.  If you are interested visiting in Morro Bay, take a look at the sites below.

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Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce http://www.morrobay.org/cm/Home.html

City of Morro Bay http://www.morro-bay.ca.us/

After stopping in Morro bay we were off again to Harmony, CA to visit the Harmony Cellars.  Harmony is also located in San Luis Obispo County.  It is a quaint town that was founded in 1869 around several dairy ranches and today boasts a population of 18.  Besides a few retail shops selling pottery and hand blown glass, Harmony Cellars is the largest retail operation. If you are interested in visiting Harmony, take a look at the site below.

http://www.harmonyca.com/

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Harmony Cellars is set up on a hill over looking the small town of Harmony.  The Harmony Cellars website states that the winery was founded in 1989 and has since grown from a 2,000 case micro winery to and 5,500 case boutique winery.  Owners Chuck and Kim Mulligan built the Harmony Cellars on land that had been in Kim’s family for over 100 years.  A tasting at Harmony will cost you $3 or $7 with a logo glass that you can keep.

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Below is a partial list of wines we tasted while visiting Harmony Cellars:

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Diamond Reserve Pinot Gris 2008

“This wine is made in the Burgundian style by aging a portion of the juice in new French oak. Although bone dry, the flavors are reminiscent of tropical fruits and juicy pears.”

Diamond Reserve Pinot Noir 2006

“A classic medium bodied wine with strawberry and caramel aromas and a velvety finish.”

Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

“Dramatic aromas of dried cherry and plum are complemented by notes of butterscotch, toasty oak & subtle leather. The palate is flooded with flavors of sour cherry, cassis and vanilla spice.”

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If you’d like to visit the Harmony Cellars, it is located at 3255 Harmony Valley Road
Harmony, California 93435; you can also visit their website at http://www.harmonycellars.com/

Following our visit to Harmony, we headed to Cambria.  Cambria is located on the coast and its primary economic activity is tourism.  Moonstone beach offers a wide variety of hotels and bed and breakfasts.  Aside from the town, other attractions include Nit Witt Ridge which is a California historical landmark, Hearst castle, the Elephant seal rookery area located off the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and the Piedras Blancas Light Station.  If you are interested in visiting Cambria take a look at the site below.

Chamber of commerce http://www.cambriachamber.org/

Our first stop in Cambria was Fermentations a tasting room and wine specialty shop.  If you stop in Cambria and love wine, you can’t miss heading to Fermentations.  A tasting at Fermentations will cost you $3 or $7 with a logo glass. 

Below is a partial list of wines we tasted while visiting Fermentations:

Tolosa Chardonnay 2006

“A pale gold color is as usual the harbinger of quality. The aroma is warm and evokes honey on toast. The fruit character is towards lemon with a hint of minerality.  The textures in the mouth are more like Chablis than California with a pleasant grippiness. There is the classic note of roasted hazelnut in the background.”

Brucher Pinot Noir 2007

“A beautifully layered and flavorful Pinot Noir. The typical Pinot nose leads to a fabulous mouth feel and a long finish. This Pinot will stand up to almost any entree.”

Koda Premium Dessert Wine

“Premium chocolate infused dessert wine is produced from blending award-winning port made from Paso Robles grown Syrah grapes with the finest natural chocolate essences. The result, a decadent, memorable dessert wine offering the best of both worlds: wine and chocolate. A delightful finish to the perfect meal.”

We purchased the Koda Dessert wine; it was the best dessert wine was tasted on the trip.

If you’d like to visit the Fermentations, it is located at 4056 Burton Drive
Cambria, CA 93428; you can also visit their website at http://www.fermentations.com/

After we finished some shopping in Cambria, we headed off to our hotel on Moonstone Beach.  Moonstone Landing is located directly across the street from Moonstone Beach.  The front rooms offer a perfect view of the Ocean and there are several other rooms that offer partial views.  In the morning they offer a free continental breakfast and in the evening they offer free refreshments. After checking in, we grabbed some refreshments and watched the sun set while enjoying some margaritas on the deck.

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If you’d like to stay at Moonstone Landing, it is located at 6420 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, CA 93428; you can also visit their website at http://www.moonstonelanding.com/

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Dinner that evening was at The Sea Chest Restaurant.  The Sea Chest is located right next door to the hotel, so it is very convenient for anyone staying in that area.  The restaurant offers a wide variety of excellent seafood.  Our group had the Cioppino, Seafood Marinara, and Oysters Rockefeller. The Cioppino was hands down the best I have had, it offered a good mix of seafood and included very good homemade sourdough bread.  I would recommend it to anyone who visits the Sea Chest.  If you go remember that the restaurant does not accept credit cards or reservations.

If you’d like to stay at The Sea Chest Restaurant, it is located at 6216 Moonstone Beach Drive Cambria, CA 93428. You can also visit their website at http://www.seachestrestaurant.com/main.htm

The next morning we awoke and took a leisurely drive up the PCH to see the elephant seals in San Simeon.  The area is known as the Piadres Blancas rookery and it is where the elephant seals breed, molt and rest.  There can be upwards of 15,000 animals at the highpoint of the season.  A rest area located along the PCH gives you a great vantage point of the seals and there are volunteers available most days to answer any questions you may have.

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If you’d like more information take a look at this site: http://www.elephantseal.org/

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Following a visit with the elephant seals it was off to Hearst Castle. Originally built by media mogul William Randolph Hearst, today Hearst Castle is operated by the California Parks Department and offers several different tours.  There are 6 tours offered of the caste and the prices are $24.00 for adults and $12.00 for kids.  We decided to take tour 1 which is recommended for first time visitors.  Tour 1 includes the pool area, Casa Del Sol guest house, Esplanade and gardens and 5 rooms in the main house.  The other tours include everything from additional rooms of the house, to a walk through the gardens. 

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If you would like to visit Hearst Castle take a look at the following site: http://www.hearstcastle.com/

After our tour of Hearst Castle it was time to head back to Santa Barbara, but along the way we stopped at Pismo beach to drive on the sand dunes.  If you have a 4×4 vehicle, I would definitely recommend driving on the sand dunes at Pismo Beach. The cost is $5.00 and you can even spend the night on the beach if you have a camper.  If you’d like some more info about Pismo Beach take a look at the following site: http://www.pismobeach.org/index.aspx?NID=9

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Once we were done on the sand dunes we headed off to dinner at the Cracked Crab.  Located in downtown Pismo Beach, the Cracked Crab is an excellent restaurant offering a wide variety of fresh seafood.  Their house specialty is the bucket of seafood that they dump on the table.  Buckets can be ordered for one or two people and have several different types of shellfish.  Take a look below at the selection choices:

Big Bucket For Two $68
Create your own bucket! Your choice of three items listed below.
Your shellfish choices are steamed with spicy Cajun sausage, red skin potatoes and corn cobetts. Casually served; dumped on your table! Accompanied with drawn butter, homemade cocktail sauce, homemade triple mustard sauce, warm sourdough rolls, and tools for pickin’ and crackin’.
Please select three items
Alaskan King Crab $10,  Dungeness Crab,  Opilio (Snow) Crab,  Domestic Gulf Shrimp,  Jonah Crab Claws,  Mussels  Clams,  Alaskan Bairdi Crab $3,  Slipper Lobster $5,  Whole Dungeness Crab $11

Single Bucket (for one person) $48
Please select two items
Slipper Lobster $5, Alaskan King Crab $10, Opilio (Snow) Crab, Dungeness Crab, Domestic Gulf Shrimp, Jonah Crab Claws, Clams, Mussels, Alaskan Bairdi Crab, $3, Whole Dungeness Crab $11

If you are interested in visiting the Cracked Crab, it is located at 751 Price Street Pismo Beach, CA 93449; you can also visit their website at http://www.crackedcrab.com/

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From Pismo Beach it was only an hour back to Santa Barbara.  The next day would be filled with Winery stops, so we headed off to bed so we could get an early start in wine country.  Check back soon for Part 3! Until next time Salude!!

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