Lately it has been too darn hot in San Diego. Instead of pulling out my Fall sweaters and boots, I’ve been wearing lightweight tank tops and shorts. It’s mid-October and I’m OVER summer. To beat the heat for a while, I went on a road trip up to the Central Coast with my friend Hillary to visit her family. Many didn’t know about this area’s thriving wine country until it was highly publicized by the movie “Sideways” in 2004, but now it’s widely known for its pinot noir and chardonnay.
We stayed at the O’Cairns Inn & Suites in Lompoc, which I would highly recommend—free drinks during happy hour and free breakfast in the morning—what a deal! And it’s close to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, where you’ll find tasting rooms for about 20 different wineries. Don’t let the name fool you – it’s not so much ghetto as it is industrial. Many of the wineries have their production facilities in close proximity to their tasting room. Anyway, who cares about the view when you’re drinking great wine?!
Since there are many wineries to choose from, I’ll tell you about my favorites: Zotovich for the viognier, pinot noir and syrah; Jalama for the syrah, cabernet and pinot noir; and Palmina for the dolcetto, barbera, and nebbiolo. For dinner, I recommend driving 20 minutes east to The Taproom at Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Buellton. I really liked the herb-crusted pork chop, but most everything on the menu looked tasty. It’s also pretty much a requirement to get the 805 beer on tap while you’re in this area code.
Of course the trickiest part of your trip from San Diego up to the Central Coast (about 5 hours by car) will be navigating traffic in LA. Yeah, there’s really no special or secret trick to that. But at least you know that wine awaits…