SENIORS ENJOY SANTA YNEZ WINE COUNTRYJun 15th, 2012 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel
Santa Ynez, CA, Invites Senior Oenophiles
The town of Santa Ynez is one of the communities that makes up the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, California. The population was 4,418 at the 2010 census. It is named after Saint Agnes, Ynez being the former Spanish language spelling. The Santa Ynez Valley has over a dozen first class wineries with wines and tasting experiences for the senior visitor. Relax amidst the vineyards and the surrounding oak-studded hills as you sample the wines of the area.
My Star Lane bottle
I recently tried a bottle of 2005 Star Lane wine. I had not seen that label before. It was excellent. The bottle itself was unusual as it weighed about twice as much as any other “normal wine bottle” and the color of the glass was exceedingly dark. The Star Lane Vineyard, located at the far eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley, is both the warmest and the highest elevation vineyard in the appellation. Backing up to the lower slopes of the San Rafael Mountains, Star Lane unfolds itself in its own pristine valley. Vineyards thrive here and Santa Barbara County is home to over 100 wineries located within a patchwork of microclimates, terrains, and rolling rural hills, with a handful just a few blocks from the beach. Beautiful resort style wineries can be discovered adjacent to small boutique operations and are just waiting for senior oenophiles to come and sample.
Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyards
In Santa Ynez two wine estates are defined by terroir, a French word used to describe the relationship between winemaking and the natural growing conditions that grace a vineyard. At Star Lane Vineyards, they take their terroir as seriously as the French and understand that the land itself shapes their wine style. Currently, the owners Jim and Mary Dierberg are constructing their dream winery on the Star Lane property. It’s dug into the hillside for efficient use of energy and will host some 26,000 square feet of caves for barrel aging. “We’re excited about having a facility that will allow us to do justice to the terroir, which has already proved to be capable of producing wines of great distinction,” Jim notes with pride. Senior citizens, come and see for yourself what Jim is talking about.
Zaca Mesa and Santa Barbara Wine Country
Another favorite visit among senior oenophiles is the Zaca Mesa winery and vineyards. I found it interesting that unlike most of California’s coast, the valleys in this region orient themselves east-west, opening to the Pacific Ocean’s influences with its cooling morning fog and afternoon breeze. The Zaca Mesa vineyard was originally planted with numerous varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Syrah to see what would work. As the vineyard came into production, a winery was built on the property in 1978 and later expanded in 1981. 1978 was a milestone for Zaca Mesa, planting the first Syrah in Santa Barbara County. I suggest that you consider renting a bike and cycle through Santa Barbara wine country with a small group and take in several vineyards.
For a good night’s rest after all that wine
TripAdvisor recommends several classy hotels and B&Bs in and around Santa Ynez. Three in particular caught my eye called Wine Country Cottage, the Country Garden Cottage and the Santa Ynez Inn. A little “cher” (by my standards) but for a delightful wine tasting weekend, what the heck?
Seniors Enjoy Wine Tour
There are several vineyard tours and tastings in and around Santa Ynez and one of these and might be just the ticket for a lasting tasting experience and for the many scenic views in and around the Santa Ynez Valley. In addition the Chumash Painted Cave Historic Park is nearby and as this blog indicates, a fun place to visit. So tip your glass in Santa Ynez and enjoy California. jeb