The Academy Award winning film “Sideways” has elevated the Pinot Noir grape to star status in the wine world. As Paul Giamatti waxes poetic about the virtue of the fragile, tenuous life of the grape, our palettes are whetted to drink up the beautiful wine country of Santa Barbara.
This area, which includes the Santa Ynez Valley and the little towns of Solvang, Buellton, and, Los Olivos, among others, is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest.
This area, made popular by the movie, is definitely worth a visit. With all the attention garnered by the movie, Santa Barbara has all the cache of Napa, without the high end marketing tourist stop feeling of larger more famous wineries. 300 miles south of San Fransisco, these wineries have a relaxed and rural feeling more like that of a working farm. Wine lovers are casual in jeans and flip flops, tasting amazing wines on the front porch of humble California ranch style structures reached by following a gravelly path hidden between olive groves and wild cacti.
You can find the “Sideways” wine tour map traveled by “Miles” and “Jack” here. Check out the Foxen Winery, to Fess Parker Winery, Firestone, Sanford, and Andrew Murray Wineries along with stops which include the Los Olivos Café and Wine Merchant and Solvang restaurant.
A notable first stop is the Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Highliner Winery in Santa Barbara. This winery produces the famous pinot noir featured in the film and the, “are you chewing gum?” scene from “Sideways”. You’ll find the family pets lying about property and some of the most delicious wines in the area. Knowledgeable staff can answer all your questions about the grapes and the flavors of the area that make the wines taste so delicious. Don’t forget to pick up “Miles” and “Jacks” wine tour map provided at the Hitching Post and relive their adventures through wine country!
Not on the “Sideways” tour but surely worth the stop, is the LaFond Winery in Buellton. Just a winding road away, LaFond features some of the best wines of the region. With a modest $5.00 tasting fee ( which includes an 18oz crystal glass ) enjoy moderately priced wines from buttery Chardonnays to fruity Pinot Noir wines. Wines can be bought and shipped on site or ordered over the internet.
Kalyra Winery is like a house party. With its sprawling front porch and bar, complete with party crowd and music jamming, is a great place to meet people while sidling up to the tasting bar. Kalyra features Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. There is also a selection of Merlot, Shiraz and red and white Ports. A nominal tasting fee includes a large variety of tastings.
Foley Estates and Lincourt Vineyards is another great winery not on the wine tour which is definitely worth a visit. A $5.00 tasting fee offers a large selection of tastings that also come with a logo tasting glass. This vineyard offers selections from a variety of vineyards. Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Merlot are just a few of the grapes offered at this charming stop.