Our first stop of the trip, Gainey Vineyard, on Hwy. 246, just east of the town of Santa Ynez. It’s an old favorite, I’ve been a member for years. The wines are very good but it’s the tasting room that

Gainey Vineyard
Gainey Vineyard

really gets my attention. It’s dark and cavernous with pretzels and dips set out among the barrels. I like to take my glass and walk away from the bar and savor the wine unhurried.  At the back is the Cellar Club for members.  For me it’s all about the Chardonnay.

While Gainey’s Chards are always drinkable, they have changed with evolving  trends. Ten years ago they were heavily oaked and buttery. But as palates have changed they’ve backed off the the butter and the oak, retaining hints of both.  This seems to be true at all the wineries, so finding a big buttery, oaky Chard that fills the mouth like cream, is a treat.  The 2014 Limited Selection comes pretty close, but still isn’t the Chard of my dreams.

Most wineries have merchandise and Gainey excels with vinegars, infused olive oils, and sauces. Last year Matt and I bought a Texas long-horn wine pourer that’s one of our favorite wine tchotchkes.

Tasting at Dragonette
Tasting at Dragonette

After taking the dog for a short walk, we headed up to Los Olivos to a new favorite, Dragonette Cellars. A couple of years ago, on a rainy day, the three of us took shelter at this new-to-us tasting room, on Alamo Pintado. It was their logo that caught our eye, but their wines that keep us going back every visit.

These wine makers went all in and started making wine without owning any land. They have to source all their grapes from vineyards around the valley. We joined the wine club that first visit and haven’t looked back.

The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from the Grassini Vineyard, over in Happy Canyon. The climate is much warmer than say the Santa Rita Hills. I love the crisp, fruit flavors of a good Sauvignon Blanc to start the evening. Why wait for dinner?

The reds are the real draw. I love the Fiddlestix Pinot Noir for its berry flavors and smoke. We like it with a juicy fillet, but it’s terrific on its own. Then it was time to see what else Los Olivos had to offer. – Scott

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