In the quaint Victorian styled town of Los Olivos, tasting rooms line the lanes by the dozens, but the cupcakes are purchased in a flight. Yes, I said cupcakes. AtSaarloos & Sons
, a small family vineyard tasting room, the owners paired themselves with a local baker, Enjoy Cupcakes. A flight of cupcakes includes six bite-sized sweets with outrageously long flavor titles like Chocolate Pumpkin Cashew Butter. Each miniature masterpiece is paired with a wine—the aforementioned pumpkin complementing a glass of “Brothers” Bordeaux-style red. Your pourer divulges the story behind each glass; Ring Effie Unk is dedicated to the grandparents and their farm helper, Unk, who was supposed to help for six months, but stayed for 60 years! This is a tasting room that not only leaves you less hungry, but you walk away feeling like you just met an entire family.
Writer: Sara McBride
| Photo: Sara McBride
The movie Sideways put the Santa Ynez Valley on the map--and not just for aging burnt-out urban dwellers unlucky in love--a steady stream of wine-curious souls head here to wake up their taste buds at the valley's more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms. The feeling here is far less pretentious--and more family-friendly and idiosyncratic--than many other California wine-country regions. Dig a bit deeper and you'll find some pretty odd phenomena coexisting amidst the oenophiles: idyllic green hills, split-pea worship, a super-swanky dude ranch, wine-trail jeep tours, cuckoo clocks galore, cupcake and wine pairings, European fairy tales, a trolley drawn by draft horses, and aebleskivers (baseball-shaped Danish pancakes). Santa Ynez Valley towns: Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang.