Santa Ynez Valley Wine Adventure

Last June we made our first trip to the Santa Ynez Valley as part of our California Wine Adventure.  We only had a half day to explore the region, so we knew a return trip was a must. This weekend, we made finally made it back, extending our time and travelling with family (Jeff’s parents, Kathy & Bob) ~ both making it an even better trip than the last!    

In planning our adventure, each couple chose three wineries to visit. Selections were based on recommendations from friends, wines that had been tried before and wanted to learn more about, as well as old favorites.  This gave us a wide variety of wines, and tasting experiences ~ here’s a recap of our discoveries:

Firestone Winery

We opted for the reserve flight, which included a tasting of 6 wines, and one bonus pour.  They served a mix of white and reds, all from their reserve and Chairman Series. The tasting room has great views of the valley. Overall, the wines had muted flavors and heavy tannins, and were generally not to our liking.  But, we were glad we gave it a try. 

Andrew Murray

We first discovered their tasting room in Los Olivos on our first trip.  We enjoyed the experience and the wine so much that we wanted to introduce it to Kathy & Bob.  Once again, the crew, and wine, at Andrew Murray did not disappoint!  We had a wonderful time with Stephanie and Tracy, tasting wines from the Eleven series, as well as a number of their great Syrah wines produced under the Andrew Murray label.  We all left with smiles on our faces (and purple teeth)!

Gainey Vineyard

This winery was a recommendation of our friends, Sarah and David.  The winery grounds were beautiful, and the tasting room setting was great ~ located just off the barrel room, and among walls of strategically placed bottles.  The atmosphere added to the fun, and all the wines we tasted were really good.  Drew navigated us through a couple of whites, and select reds for the Gainey Vineyard and Even’s Ranch.  I was excited to see a Cab Franc!


Located in the Santa Maria Bench, Cambria specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  During our visit, we tasted a number of their Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, as well as a Pinot Gris, Syrah, and a Late Harvest Viognier.  All wines were quite good, but with their slightly higher than average prices, we left empty handed.  A number of the wines are well distributed, and we will keep an eye out for special deals in our local wine shops. 

Foxen – Foxen 7200

This was a unique experience, as they have two wine tasting rooms ~ Foxen is served at a more modern tasting room located just slightly up the road from the original shack where they serve up Foxen 7200.  We sampled several great Pinot Noirs, a tasty Sangiovese, and another excellent Cab Franc!

Zaca Mesa

This tasting room was more commercial than the others, bringing in higher crowds than the others we had visited on the trip.  With that said, the staff was very helpful in securing us a spot, and were very attentive during the tasting.  We had the chance to sip a few different varieties than we had been tasting around the valley, including a granache, a roussanne, and several tasty syrahs.  All the wines would be great with food, but few stood out to enjoy on their own.


Even with the heavy clouds and rain rolling in, the views from the winery were still stunning.  The wines had big flavors, and were quite enjoyable.  A number of them are distributed at BevMo and our favorite wine shop, San Diego Wine Company.  We still walked out with a couple of bottles of ones with limited distribution or hard to find. 


Wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley are producing some tasty treats!  If you come across one, especially Pinot Noir or Syrah, give it a try!