Harvest is an incredible time of year in the Santa Ynez Valley, and I was lucky enough to spend a Saturday experiencing it first hand during the month of October. I started my busy Saturday in the SYV at Kalyra Winery in Santa Ynez. Today was going to be their annual Grape Stomp, wine pick up, harvest celebration. The weather was a perfect 72 at 11am. I arrived and went to check in. I was greeted warmly and told of the several pouring stations, music, snacks, treats, lunch and the late afternoon stomp.
Many of the attendees were dressed in togas and the overall mood was very celebratory and full of smiles. I visited with RaeLynn Milley, tasted the latest releases, The NV Cashmere was a stand out, and went out back to enjoy the music and people watch. When I came back into the tasting room RaeLynn suggested I try the new 239. Named for the highest amount of alcohol (23.9%) allowed in wine before it is considered a spirit. It is meant as a mixer and I can attest it is very good. I had a cocktail with Ginger Ale. I then ate lunch with water and enjoyed some more music. I left before the stomping began but I hear it was great fun. From there I needed a clothes change from home before my evening event as a cool wind was picking up and I was in shorts and sandals.
Now I was off to Buttonwood Farm Winery and their annual FrancFest. It is held out by their lake about a ½ mile back from the tasting room and is a beautiful setting. I arrived around 6 and the sun was moving towards the horizon. There is already a good crowd and we all have 12 different wineries to taste from. Most of the winemakers are here pouring their Cab Franc. Antonio Gardella longtime wine expert, enthusiast, promoter, television star, producer, and winemaker is here pouring Cab Franc that came from these (Buttonwood) vines in the early 90s. Here is a link to Vintage Journeys 1992, featuring many Santa Barbara County wine pioneers and locations. The ’92 was my favorite and it has held together outstandingly. There are also ribs, chili, and mac & cheese eggrolls provided by The Chef’s Touch. I grab a bowl of chili, get a taste of Carr Winery 2010 Cab Franc, and sit on a hay bale near the water’s edge with others to watch the sunset. While enjoying the meal, I reflect on how blessed we are to be in the Santa Ynez Valley, with the wonderful bounty and beauty that surrounds us.
About The Author: Shelby Sim grew up just 30 minutes south of the Santa Ynez Valley on the coast in Goleta, CA. After living in many different states and traveling the world, he returned to the area and discovered the many quality wines being produced here. Shelby has worked in the area for the last 11 years as a wine tour host, while acting as director of business development with the Goleta chamber, and later as a sales manager for Bacara Resort and Spa. He recently moved his family to Buellton and is honored to be executive director of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, the premier destination marketing organization (DMO) for the region.
About VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.