Well…. Our weekend could have been better, but only if the damn PRESS left Santa Maria. Otherwise, it was fabulous!
We were up on Saturday morning by 5am to dress, pack, and make our way up to the Pancake house in Placentia for breakfast with John and Mary. After a wonderful breakfast replete with appropriate amounts of bacon, we made our way towards Santa Maria. Even with a bit of traffic, we still made it to the Santa Maria Inn by noon, which amounted to a total drive time of 3.5 hours. Not too shabby.
Driving into Santa Maria was a bit of a shock to my system, however. There were a TON of people EVERYWHERE! The SM Inn parking lot was full, sans two spaces for John and me to park. I have never seen the city so unbelievably busy. And the cops were out in force too.
Once we got in, we gave our friends George and Kathy a ring, and they met up with us in the tap room to start a fun day of wine tasting. We made our way down to Los Olivos to a few tasting rooms, and then for a wonderful lunch at the Los Olivos Café. Once lunch was over we headed out to Foxen Canyon and stopped by Firestone, Koehler, and Curtis. Firestone was sadly –packed- with people, which seemed to be par for the course this weekend. Too many people do not a fun tasting trip make. To add salt to the wound, the vintages at Firestone (along with a good number of the other wineries we tasted at) seemed to be –very- young and green.
Luckily, we stopped by Curtis as our last taste for the day and had a blast there. I was specifically looking for their Crossroads Syrah, and was ecstatic to find that they only had one case left, but would be more than happy to sell it to me. (Though, I will be splitting it with John and Mary). George happens to know the tasting room manager at Curtis. Damned if he isn’t just a kick in the pants. We met him a few years back, and end up tasting with him every time we swing by Curtis. This time was no different. We always spend a bit of time (and money) there partially because Matty is so much fun.
After tasting on Saturday, we all headed back to our respective hotels and homes to catch a quick nap before dinner. In retrospect, this was just a bad idea. For those of us that got to sleep a bit, it seemed to do us all more harm than good, as we were all zombie like during dinner.
That is not to say dinner wasn’t fun. We went out to Shaw’s for their Tri-Tip and George was kind enough to bring along a bottle of his 2001 Curtis Reserve Syrah which matched perfectly with dinner, of course. After dinner, we retired to Shaw’s bar and put down a few more drinks before we all crashed. I think we finally blew out of there around 11.30 or midnight-ish, which is sadly early for having taken a nap and dined at 9pm.
After a crappy night’s sleep (the SleepNumber beds that the Radisson is placing in all of their rooms BLOW), we woke and made our way with John and Mary to Stinky’s for lunch with George and Kathy. This meal was much more energetic and lively and had us laughing for a good long while. Not to mention the food was exactly what I was in the mood for: good greasy burger and fires with lots of garlic and hot sauce. Yum.
After lunch we said our good-byes to George and Kathy and made our way back out to Foxen Canyon for some more tasting and a bit of an unplanned detour due to a wrong turn. This time we stopped at Cambria, Foxen, and Rancho Sisquioc. Added to our Curtis purchase the day prior, this round of tasting was spectacular and just as damaging to our pocketbooks and space in our respective cellars. All said and done, I think we walked away with another two cases between the four of us. We couldn’t pass up Cambria’s 2003 Julia’s Pinot Noir, nor Foxen’s 2001 Cab-Franc. Rancho Sisquioc is the one winery that Jean and I had not yet been to, so it was a new experience for all four of us. And it did not disappoint. We ended up with two bottles of their Sangiovese which was unlike any I have had before, and two bottles of their Meritage blend which was to die for.
At around 4pm we headed back to the Santa Maria Inn to drop off John and Mary (as I was the driver for both days) and said our good-byes so Jean and I could get on the road and hopefully make it back home at a reasonable hour… We left Santa Maria around 4:40pm and rolled into our driveway at around 8:10pm. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic because I was exhausted after the weekend and was in no mood to sit in an LA sigalert. When we got home we unpacked, I had a bite of dinner, and we crashed out on our bed around 9pm.
All in all, it was a GREAT weekend, even with the added headache and crowds of the press and damn “Sideways” tourists. Once the Jackson trial and movie buzz die down, I am hoping Santa Maria will again be our little secret and cozy little getaway town. Tasting up in Santa Maria for the weekend is one addiction I am happy to live with.