Uncorked Ventures Blog
If you want to go on an amazing day trip within driving distance from Los Angeles, a great option is the wine tours located in Santa Barbara County. The drive is only around an hour and a half from the smog and congestion of LA and will take you along the beautiful, eye-popping scenery of the Central Coast.
There are many rural charms that Santa Barbara County can offer travelers that are looking for a relaxing escape from the concrete jungle. There are meandering country roads, horse ranches, and world-class food and wine. If you take the drive from Los Angeles you’ll be blessed with stunning views of the California coast, the rugged topography, and easy access to beaches offering relative privacy.
In the last two decades, Santa Barbara County has earned an boom of winemaking production, acquiring some of the top wine-making talents, solidifying it’s place among the famous and elite wine-growing regions in the world.
There are many wineries to choose from on your visit both in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley, hidden behind the costal mountain range. You can literally spend days viewing the many wineries and attractions in this easy-to-reach oasis, off the beaten path of overcrowded tourism attractions.
For those interested in a first-class luxury wine tour, you can book a private Santa Barbara wine tour, with or without a guide. You can choose a self-guided tour of the wineries, picking from your favorites or adventuring out to find new brands and varietals.
If you prefer to do more than a standard day trip, you can opt for a multi-day mini-vacation in Santa Barbara wine country, exploring the nooks and crannies at your leisure.
There are excellent overnight accomodations in the area, including the five-star Four Seasons Biltmore in Montecito. It features private bungalows, and amazing landscaping making it a beachfront paradise. You could also opt to stay in the secluded San Ysidro Ranch tucked away agains the foothills where JFK and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon.
Santa Barbara’s many wineries include the best-known right downtown, the Santa Barbara Winery. This winery was instrumental in bringing the modern winemaking era to the county, opening their doors back in the early 1960’s. However, the winemaking tradition of the San Ynez Valley dates back to the 1780’s when Father Serra brought the first cuttings to the Santa Barbara region.
An experience you cannot miss on your way to the Santa Barbara wine tastings is driving down Highway 154 crossing the famed San Marcos Pass. You’ll get spectacular views of the coast and the Santa Ynez Valley from over 2,000ft.
If you want to get away from the valley and do something different, head eastward from the summit of San Marcos Pass down Camino Cielo for incredible mountain and ocean views. The Camino is a steep, windy road that takes you to La Cumbre Peak, 4,000 feet above sea level, and the highest mountain seen from Santa Barbara. You’ll see hikers, paragliders, and hang-gliders leaping off the sheer cliffs and lazily floating to the beaches below.
Another attraction worthy of a visit is the Cold Springs Tavern along San Marcos Pass. It’s a historical building established in the 1800’s as a way station for a stagecoach run. Today, it’s a popular romantic getaway destination with live music and delicious tri-tip sandiwches.
Thanks to the famous 2004 film Sideways, which featured many of the locales around the valley, the area has seen an increase in tourism. Especially, the Fess Parker winery and the Hitching Post restaurant. The film also helped build the popularity of the Pinot Noir wine, long a staple of the Santa Barbara wineries; considered to be among the best wines in the world by experts. The Syrah grape and Cabernet Sauvignon are also well-known wines from the area you’ll want to sample.
Wineries You’ll Want To Visit
The more established wineries in the area are Firestone Winery, Fess Parker, Zaca Mesa, Sanford and Kalyra, and the Sunstone. Each location has tasting rooms, private tours, and feature almost year-round tours dates.
If you find yourself in the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, make sure you stop at the Firestone Vineyard. This family-owned estate has over 500 acres of vineyards and they feature a horseback vineyard tour; something to give the wine enthusiast a definite new experience. They also have a barrel cellar, fermentation cellar, crush pads, tasting rooms, and a bottling line for full-production from vine to bottle. An amazing site to see.
In 1972, the Firestone was founded as the first estate winery in Santa Barbara country, pioneering the Santa Ynez Valley as wine country. In 2007, the Firestone Tires family sold the winery to another vintner, but they remain a heavy influence in the wine industry owning local vineyards as well as the Paso Robles brewery, which brews Firestone Pale Ale beer. That beer was voted the Best Beer in America by the 2006 Men’s Journal.
When touring the wineries comes to an end, your trip doesn’t have to end as well. There are find restaurants with famous chefs where you can partake of a gourmet lunch or dinner. You can see some of the Santa Ynez Valley horse ranches, famous for the best breeders in the country. You’ll be able to catch glimpses and photographs of Arabian Thoroughbreds munching on the lush grass of the valley.
If you’re a wine enthusiast and you love touring vineyards, you will find it difficult to compete against a trip to Santa Barbara wine country in southern California.
All in all, it would be hard to come up with a more perfect choice than going to Santa Barbara for a lovely day trip in a luxury van when you are visiting Southern California. With an abundance of scenery, natural sites, eateries and wineries and museums; you’ll find plenty to enjoy on your trip.
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By Ryan Scott
Ryan is the Marketing Manager at Brilliant Transportation. A luxury transportation provider based on Los Angeles and New York. He blogs about travel, luxury, and some of the greatest trips you can find in the USA. Find him on Twitter and YouTube.
We’d like to thank everyone who has order a wine club for themselves, or as a gift already this holiday season. We greatly appreciate your business and don’t take the responsibility of delivering high quality wine and good service lightly. Thank you for allowing us to continue doing what we enjoy so much, finding high quality low production wines.
We’ve received a number of questions the past few days about our shipping and delivery schedule for the rest of December.
To start, if you order from our Exploration Wine Club or our Special Selections Wine Club, you’ll order will ship the same day that your order if its before 3pm Pacific. After 3pm Pacific we’ll try and get the wine out the same day, but a shipment the following day is more likely since we have drop off and pick up times with Fedex that cannot be changed.
Secondly, if you order from our Reserve Selections Wine Club your wine should ship within 2 days.
Lastly, we also receive a number of questions this time of year regarding special requests. Stuff like, can you deliver my wine after the 17th? Can you ship only red wines in my shipment? We’re happy to accommodate all of those requests for you, if you use the “Order Notes” section in our checkout process, that’ll make sure we see that request and if you have any questions along the way please don’t hesitate to contact us via email, or over the phone.
Again, thank you for considering Uncorked Ventures. If there's anything we can do to help, please let us know.
80 years ago
today yesterday (hey, I’m busy here) the United States Federal Government decided that their experiment with Prohibition was a failure and it should end.
There’s been a lot of incredible work done over the years chronicling the affects of Prohibition on both the wine industry itself, but the country as a whole. For some wine regions like Livermore, Prohibition and their inability to get started quickly after its repeal was the end for their inclusion in great AVA’s of American wine. If you asked someone in the early 1900’s what the most important wine region in America happened to be, they might have said Napa Valley, or they might have said Livermore. It’s interesting to me that some regions were able to innovate and stay afloat during those trying times, while others struggled to come out the other side so to speak. It also makes me wonder, can Livermore come back to the forefront? Where are we seeing innovation take place currently in American wine?
More to the point of Prohibition and its repeal, Ken Burns produced an outstanding documentary on the history of the laws and their unintended consequences, which is worth a look if you ever have what amounts to a free weekend. The one thing that struck me then and continues to strike me now about the history of that time period is that the IRS and the income tax allowed Prohibition to happen in the first place.
It has been said and documented that before 1913, about a third of the entire revenue of the Federal Government came from taxes on alcohol sales. After 1920 though, politicians had quickly realized that income taxes were a more efficient way to raise revenue than were use fees, like what had been going on to that point. With almost two thirds of revenues now coming through income taxes, the government was able to start what we’d largely call a culture war on organized crime and the sale of alcohol.
It’s also been said that behind closed doors in the early 1930’s when declining tax revenues started to hit harder than normal (revenues were down 60% from their peak) politicians found an easy way to raise revenues once again, allow the sale and taxation of alcohol.
In any case, I think all of us can agree it’s an interesting time period of American history and as we continue to have debates about the relatively acceptable size of government today, hopefully we can look back at this time period and learn a little something about taxes, rights and government spending.
As you might expect, December is an incredibly busy time of year for us here at Uncorked Ventures. I think making use of this space whenever possible makes a ton of sense and given my relative lack of time during this time of year (hey, call to order a wine club or gift basket and I might answer myself) I thought another guest post might be in order. Enjoy and Happy Holidays! Oh and thanks Doreen for sharing our first wine storage article. It's been said (and studied I might add) that 98% of wine is consumed within 48 hours of being purchased and even among our high end wine club customers, not all have cellars, but I'd be willing to bet that a greater number of our customers are patient with their wine than the average group of consumers.
Wine is a really great drink that can enhance your meals and even provide you with a lot of great health benefits. Collecting wine is a really great hobby as well and knowing some essential facts about wine can be a great conversation topic at dinner parties.
In order to ensure that your wine tastes great it is a good idea to pay attention to the way you store it.Here are some important tips for storing wine correctly.
The Right Temperature
One of the most important things to consider when storing wine is the temperature it is stored in. The key is to try and find a middle ground for not keeping them too cool or too warm.
It is essential to know that heat is the worst thing for a wine bottle. Storing your wine in any temperature above 20 degree Celsius for a long period and your wine will age quicker than desired.
Ideally you want to store your wine in temperatures between 7 to 18 degrees Celsius.
Yet this also doesn’t mean that storing wine in a colder temperature is going to be good for the wine either. For example, keeping your wine bottles in the fridge for longer than two to three months can result in the cork drying out and letting air inside the bottle.
If you are only going to store the wine bottle for a few months or even less than two years then you don’t need to worry too much about the temperature. As long as it doesn’t fluctuate too much your wines will be just wine.
Keep Light Away
Even more important than temperature is the amount of light the bottle is exposed to. The best is to keep your bottles stored away from direct sunlight or light in general. A box or a cupboard might be a really good idea to consider.
There are a lot of great ideas for storing wines and you don’t necessarily need to invest into a special wine cellar or a cooler either. Check out tips from websites such as BHG.com and get inspired.
Sideways Whenever Possible
One thing that you must keep in mind, especially with cork bottles, is that they need to be kept sideways. This is because having the bottle sideways will allow the wine to touch the cork and keep it moist.
And when the cork is moist it won’t shrink and allow the air in. Once air gets inside the wine bottle it’ll quite quickly turn bad. Therefore stay on the safe side with your wine and store it sideways.
Bottles That Have Been Opened
Sometimes you open a wine bottle but won’t finish it all in one go and you might worry if it’ll stay good for the next time. But there are ways to ensure you get to enjoy a glass on the next day as well.
Try to re-cork the wine as best as you can or buy a reusable wine cork that allows you to pump out the air as well. White wines tend to stay good for around two days and red wines can last one day longer in the fridge.
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Doreen loves wine and she is especially interested in learning more about the wine vintage chart and the history of wine. When she isn’t browsing the web for great wines she likes to spend time planning her next trip abroad.
You may have noticed that we're allowing a limited number of guest authors in this space. I decided to allow guest posts for a few simple reasons. First, I'm sure that our customers and readers are ready for a different voice every once in a while. Secondly, many of the guest authors that we're lining up, bring different and interesting perspectives to the world of wine and our wine clubs. Anythony Roberts who wrote the following is a great example of someone who brings a different and unique perspective. He's Australian and a chef, both of which are different perspectives than I offer. In any case, enjoy!
Wine has enjoyed increasing popularity in the past few years, more so as a gift for the holidays or special events. Almost everyone will appreciate wine at a party, a special family event, or a holiday. As the popularity of wine gifts increases, so does the boredom surrounding its use as a gift. This means you'll need some new ideas in ensuring that the recipient of your gift loves it. We can rely on the fact that there are several flavors of wine; therefore it is not too difficult to add a special touch that will make the gift suit the special tastes of the person it's meant for. This makes the gift immensely appreciated.
Tips for Wine Gifts
Take note of the following tips, should you want to add some sparkle to an event or just make a special gift basket gift filled with wine.
Lighthearted wine is suitable for informal occasions like father's day. If you require something that will go perfectly with pizza or maybe a special dinner including roast chicken, then going with Zinfandel is a good idea.
If the gathering is for the celebration of a special event such as Christmas Eve, then champagne will be perfect. You can add whistles, glassware, confetti and party hats to spruce up the basket gift wine.
When Thanksgiving Day arrives, candles, little pumpkins and candy corn can all be introduced to improve the attractiveness of the occasion. You can also decorate the basket with sweet candies.
Wine for Diet-Conscious
Sometimes the gift may be intended for someone who is on a special diet. This may mean that you need to choose a wine with low calories and/or low alcohol. Some wines are made from grapes picked before they had the chance to build up much sugar. Some others contain sucralose as a sweetener instead of usual sugars. You can choose Bacardi's Island Breeze, or White Lie from Beringer Blass Wine Estates. These boast of low calories and alcohol levels when compared to their California counterparts.
If the event is a wedding, then a perfect idea would be purchasing a wine made in the same year the couple is getting married. You can purchase unlabelled wine online or directly from a winery and then create a customized label with the couple's name. Attractive labels can be made from any home computer. The front label can be customized with the couple's name and the date of the wedding while the back label can contain a love note, a poem or a special message for the couple. You can then gift wrap the wine and a perfect gift is born.
Personalized Wine Gifts
In making the choice of a perfect wine gift, you must consider the particular like of the individual for whom the gift is meant. It is probably not a good idea to give champagne to someone who doesn't like champagne. You run the risk of offending the person. Personalizing a wine gift on a special holiday will make the person feel loved and make the gift seem very thoughtful.
Local food and wine magazines can help you with information regarding wine and other items that can be included in a basket gift wine. The internet will also aid your search. Should you know any wine enthusiasts, you can approach them for advice. You can make your purchase at a local wine shop. Attendants at these shops are always willing to offer you help and advice.
A wine gift doesn't necessarily have to be expensive to be appreciated. Special gifts can be gotten while remaining on a small budget. Just remember the purpose of the gift and the occasion it's meant for.
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Anthony Roberts is a chef and an avid blogger on food and wine. He also gives tips and ideas on how to make dishes tastes even better with the right kind of wine. He has featured wines such as chardonnay, and pinot gris. He recently visited Clare Valley in Australia and wrote interesting things about its vineyard.
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