Our most recent day in wine country was a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. We prepared ourselves for wine tasting with lunch at Industrial Eats in Beullton. One of our favorites, Industrial Eats serves an ever evolving menu of sandwiches, salads and pizza. We shared a wild mushroom, Camembert and garlic pizza and a turkey, caramelized onion, arugula and basil mayonnaise sandwich. we were stuffed!
Luckily, our first wine tasting stop was next door. Alma Rosa Vineyard and Winery recently moved their tasting space from their ranch on Santa Rosa Road to Beullton, creating a light and airy space in the industrial complex. Winemaker Richard Sanford, an ardent advocate of organic farming and sustainability, produces excellent Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Brut Rose. We tasted the 2014 Blance de Blanc, – dry and crisp; the 2015 El Jabali Chardonnay – dry and creamy, with notes of lemongrass and peach; the 2015 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay – balanced with oak and hints of malolactic fermentation; the 2016 Vin Gris – crisp acidity with watermelon; the 2014 La Encantada Pinot Noir – aroma of cola, blueberry and hibiscus on the palate; and three Clone 667 Pinot Noirs – 2014, 2015 and finally, their 2010, each with their own individual characteristics, and all quite lovely.
Our next stop was Andrew Murray Vineyards in Foxen Canyon. Formerly the home of Curtis Winery, this space has been transformed into a sleek, modern winery with public and member tasting rooms along with shaded outdoor areas where you can bring food and enjoy tastes, glasses or bottles of Andrew’s amazing collection of wines focusing on Rhone varietals. On this visit, we enjoyed the 2016 Viognier – floral on the nose, fruit on the palate, with a mild acidity; Rose of Cinsault – dry, with strawberry on the palate, mild acidity and a light pink color; 2015 Grenache – aromas of blueberries, spices on the palate; 2015 Roasted Slope (Syrah and Viognier blend) – floral on the nose, hints of jam and smoke on palate; 2015 Alisos Vineyard Syrah – smokey and jammy aromas and big, chewy taste; and a delicious Jarhead Red Table, this one 100% Cab Franc, berries and vanilla on the nose, smooth on the palate, finishing with hints of herbs, a holdover from Curtis.