Cold Springs Tavern Exterior

January is a wonderful month to go wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. Days can be relatively warm and sunny with little danger of rain. Not so this year. January has turned out to be one of the wettest in recent history and we couldn’t be happier. Does rain put a damper on wine tasting? Au contraire.

The golden hills of the back country of Santa Barbara county are emerald green. And it’ll stay green well into the year. The storms hit much harder in northern California, vineyards in Sonoma getting as much as 13 inches of rain. The Russian River overflowed its banks. We’ll have to wait and see the effect on the 2017 vintages in Napa. But after four years of drought, the rain seems to be just right here in Southern California.

We headed up the 101 on MLK Day, which really cut out the traffic. Turning inland on Hwy. 154 we stopped for lunch at the Cold Spring Tavern in the San Marcos Pass, parked along the road and indulged in a little time travel as we walked up to the restaurant.  The Tavern began as a stagecoach stop in 1886 and has been serving travelers as a restaurant/tavern continuously since 1941.  They have a great selection of burgers and sandwiches. It even has venison stew on the menu. Cold Spring Tavern’s website

Cachuma Lake Camping
Cachuma Lake Camping

We go up to wine country on a regular basis and it’s worth turning off the main highway to enjoy the twists and turns of a country road. It rejoins the 154 just above Lake Cachuma, or rather what remains of the lake after five years of drought. Drought or not, Cachuma is a great place to camp, but that’s for a later post. Now it’s on to wine tasting. Cachuma Lake’s website

And if you’re planning to take your furry friends with you on your camping trips, we highly recommend this article from OutsideHow:
Tips for Camping with Dogs