Travel Vlog | Wine Tasting in California!

It’s happening. The vlogs are in full swing. It’s Thursday which means it’s almost the weekend! Maybe you’re treating yourself to an early glass of wine or if you’re sticking out dry January you can join in on the fun by watching my wine tasting in SLO vlog below!

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You can check out the corresponding blog post here:

The California Travel Diaries | SLO

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Dear 2010’s

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California Travel Diaries | Palm Springs

California Travel Diaries |A Weekend in San Diego

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The California Travel Diaries |Solvang to Santa Barbara

Since my teen years I always dreamed of a road trip around California and it remained as only a dream for quite some time. It was an idea, a “once in a lifetime” opportunity you may say. Something I thought I wouldn’t be able to actually afford or do in my 20’s. If I’m perfectly honest, I never really had any intentions of traveling at all during this period of my life, apart from the odd beach break here and there – especially after finally getting a good job out of university. I thought that I would wait for the perfect timing to go on such an adventure. Two years soon passed as a graduate and I quickly learned that the “perfect” timing to do anything, travel included, doesn’t quite exist and cannot be controlled. Instead, I could be in control of saving up some money, carefully planning my route and gaining some courage to do something that I always wanted to do. As confident and open minded as I am, I must admit that leaving the comfort of routine and predictability behind was quite a scary idea … even if it was only for a matter of a few weeks or months. That being said, this trip was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.

If you’re new to this travel series, you catch up on my journey so far here. If you’re keeping up to date with me, I last left you in San Luis Obispo. I next took a quick detour to Solvang, where the famous Californian golden sun was shining bright as I walked through a real life Hans Christen Anderson storybook. Solvang is a town where Danish-American’s settled, and a tribute to the author is paid through the Hans Christian Anderson museum. My boyfriend and I spent some time mooching around the stores, enjoying Danish pastries and soaking up some sun, before heading over the Santa Ynez Mountains to Santa Barbara.

As we drove to our next stop, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in Europe rather than America. The Mediterranean style apartments with their red roofs and white walls hold a stark similarity to it’s Croatian friend across the pond. The Spanish influence is also particularly strong and is evident within the laid back, community feel to the town; a familiar feeling throughout typical Californian lifestyle and Santa Barbara is certainly no exception.

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On route to the Summer Solstice Festival

The Basics

When? I visited Santa Barbara in late June for 2 days over Summer Solstice weekend.

Weather? June gloom! It was around 22 degrees but the sun had gone away and only reappeared as we left.

Accommodation? Airbnb about 5 minutes drive away from the centre.

To Do? Beaches, Hikes, Rainbow Monument, Casa del Herrero, Stearns Wharf, Presidio of Santa Barbara, Botanical Garden, Lotusland, Deep Sea Tasting Room and more!

To Eat & Drink? Funk Zone, Paxi, Smithys, Wine Therapi, Cold Spring Tavern

We arrived in Santa Barbara unfortunately during the June Gloom period where grey, overcast skies mirrored the English climate far too much for my liking. Luckily for the optimist within me, this wasn’t enough to dampen my mood. The Summer Solstice Festival was in full swing, so we dropped off our bags at our Airbnb and quickly drove down to catch the end of the Parade at Almeda Park. Soon realising that lots of dancing, drinks and good times were to be had, we swiftly returned back to our Airbnb to park our rental car and caught an Uber instead. The entrance fee to the Summer Solstice festival was $20 which entitled us to one drink each, if my memory serves me correctly. Hungry from all the excitement, we ate some Greek food and danced the afternoon away with a few cold ones in hand. After a few hours of people watching, dancing, singing along to some songs, we then strolled along the streets into town and made the most of not having to drive, by getting another drink at Smithy’s. This was a recommended bar from a fellow blogger, that I too would definitely suggest if you’re stopping over in Santa Barbara. For dinner we chose pizza at Paxi and ended with a night cap at Wine Therapi where we listened to more live music (Oh how I loved Santa Barbara – I think I say that about every stop in this series!)

A wedding taking place in the grounds of Santa Barbara County Court House

Our Airbnb host recommended that we go to Cold Spring Tavern for a famous tri-tip sandwich, so the next day we headed on over to this Western style saloon. This eatery is located on a scenic mountainside where families and a ton of (friendly) bikers visit. We filled up on a sandwich along with, wait for it… even more live music! We then decided to use up all that energy on a hike to Inspiration Point. If you have the chance to do this whilst you are in Santa Barbara, I would recommend to complete the hike when there is bit more sun out. Although this sadly was not an option for us, we did enjoy some good old fashioned air as well as having the opportunity to just talk and take in some beautiful Californian nature. After cooling off back home, we explored more of the town in the afternoon from Stearns Wharf, East Beach to Butterfly Beach. We even saw a panoramic view of the town whilst a wedding was happening in the grounds of the County Court House! We then topped off our visit with a date night out bowling. Even though my visit to Santa Barbara was short and sweet, it definitely made a long-standing impression on me. I know for sure that I’ll definitely be back to see it again, especially to capture my missed Instagram opportunity by the colourful Paseo steps!

If you enjoyed this post you should subscribe and read:

Life Update: I’m Going Travelling!

What’s in My Travel Bag

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

The California Travel Diaries: Sonoma and Napa

The California Travel Diaries: Yosemite

The California Travel Diaries: Monterey to Big Sur

The California Travel Diaries: SLO

 

 

The California Travel Diaries | Sonoma and Napa

Ah, Wine country! Even the name of it sounds dreamy and the real thing did not disappoint either. This Summer I went on a California road trip exploring the state and I knew that the trip would not be complete without a visit to Sonoma and Napa. For those of you unaware with where Wine Country actually is, it is located in the Northern Bay Area, where you will be spoiled for delicious food and breathtaking views. There are so many towns and cities within Wine Country including Santa Rosa, Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga to name a few. To get a feel of what Wine Country has to offer you should watch the famous movie Sideways, or just carry on reading this blog!

Following my visit to San Francisco I (well my boyfriend) drove down to Vallejo which is near to both Sonoma and Napa Valley, but you can stay there at the fraction of a price. I would have really loved to stay within Wine Country where the views were nicer (I stayed in an Air B’n’B overlooking Six Flags Discovery Kingdom), so if you are thinking of a visit and want to stay within Wine Country, do your research and book well in advance! I only booked my accommodation some 7-8 weeks before and although we found a reasonable priced room (we paid £77 for two nights for two people) there was not a lot going on in Vallejo! We planned our trip here for the weekend and luckily we had friendly hosts who offered to take us to Sonoma on the Saturday. Sonoma is quite big so we decided to get the most out of our visit by visiting Sonoma Square, home to multiple wine tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and a lovely park.

 

Our first stop of the day was at Walt Wines, which is pictured at the top of this blog post! As you can see, wine is served with glasses as big as your head! I was NEVER a fan of white wine prior to this trip, due to one bad experience with some cheap white wine. However Sonoma well and truly restored my belief in a cool, crisp chardonnay. Wine tastings are fabulous as you learn about where in the county the grapes are grown, the environments they grow best in as well as the undertones present in the wine. In all the excitement we got a wine tasting each and soon realized it may be best to share a few of the wine tastings going forward. Sharing a wine tasting means that rather than trying 4-6 different wines each (meaning you pay for 8-10 small glasses), you both share the 75-90ml of wine that is in the glass. Wine tasting can get expensive very quickly, so we decided to pack a picnic; this is a great way to save some dollar, but if you are visiting a wine cellar/winery enquire prior to your visit if picnics are allowed.

I really loved the variety of wineries available in Sonoma Square. Our next wine tasting was at Rancho Maria; you can tell it had a more informal atmosphere even by the name (the wine tasting was a more affordable $20 pp). We also came across an Indian restaurant called Delhi Belly; here in the UK this an unfortunate outcome of trying Indian food within India… safe to say we stayed clear! I would highly recommend the Girl on the Fig if you visit Sonoma; the staff were welcoming and it was nice to have a more familiar Pub experience! Other wine tastings I would recommend include Zine Hyde Wineries (approx $33pp), Pangloss Cellars ($25pp) and definitely get a pizza from Mary’s! Slices are also available on the square if you get peckish in between tastings. We enjoyed watching the baseball and trying our first American pizza before we got an Uber back to our Air B’n’B.

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We only planned one day in Napa, which was a shame as Napa Valley is huge! We had to be selective of where we wanted to explore so the following day we drove to Downtown Napa, a quaint area where there is even a Wine Train! We had a stroll around Oxbow Public Market, here you can purchase local produce, gourmet food, trinkets and all your wine accessories needs! For lunch we ate at a nearby restaurant named Napa Valley Bistro; I had an incredible Caesar Salad and my boyfriend had a lamb burger that our host recommended… Should you visit Napa, add this to your list of must try food in California!

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Domaine Chandon

As we were short on time we decided to visit a couple of wineries with our first choice being the famous Domaine Chandon. We bought a bottle of sparkling white wine ($36) which we then sipped in the beautiful Californian sun, admiring the stunning grounds and vineyard.We next visited the stunning Robert Mondavi’s Winery and shared a flight of wine ($35). This weekend definitely made a change to what I am currently doing (sitting in my pyjama’s writing this blog in the UK!) It was moments like these that I really appreciated and thanked myself for taking the time to go traveling and living my best Californian life!

If you enjoyed this post you should subscribe and check out the posts below:

What’s in My Travel Bag

The California Travel Diaries: San Francisco, Day 1

The California Travel Diares: San Francisco, Day 2

The California Travel Diaries: San Francisco, Day 3