Now to the main event. For the last several year, the wife and I have visited California in the winter in order to have fun sightseeing and stocking up our wine reserve – and accumulating miles on Alaska Airlines to maintain our dual status (stati?). Our Northern California adventures have been documented here and here. Alaska is probably the best airline to take for wine tasting since they will give you free baggage on a case of wine when flying from 29 airports.
Wine (Mileage Plan™ members only) – one protectively packaged case of wine when traveling on flights from the following airports, within the United States: Burbank (BUR), Fresno (FAT), Los Angeles (LAX), Monterey (MRY), Oakland (OAK), Orange County (SNA), Ontario (ONT), Palm Springs (PSP), Sacramento (SMF), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), San Luis Obispo (SBP), Santa Barbara (SBA), Sonoma (STS), Boise (BOI), Lewiston (LWS), Eugene (EUG), Medford (MFR), Portland (PDX), Redmond (RDM), Bellingham (BLI), Pasco (PSC), Pullman (PUW), Seattle (SEA), Spokane (GEG), Walla Walla (ALW), Wenatchee (EAT), and Yakima (YKM).
Starting out from the Fess Parker Hotel, the adventure started right across the street with probably the long art festival I have ever seen. Right along the beachfront street, artist line up to sell their wares every Sunday. The truth is that we totally lucked out as we had no idea about this interesting festival.
The show ends at the pier. Right across from the pier, you cross the street and can find wine tasting rooms in and around the back streets. These are all tasting rooms for wineries that are too far off the beaten path to expect you to go visit their location so they bring their wine in town. The first stop that caught my eye was Corks ‘n Crowns that offered cupcake tasting on Sundays as well as wine. Sunday really seems to be the day to do things in Santa Barbara!
I am not sure who decided that wine and cupcakes go together. Individually they were both good, but a sip of wine after a sugary cupcake did not do it for me.
There were so many tasting rooms, we just selected a few to try.
Our favorite wines came from the Santa Barbara Winery. They included a glass with their wine tasting which the others did not. They had the best selection of white wines and had a great Late Harvest Riesling for only $10 if you are into dessert wines. All were good and the average cost for a tasting was $15. Here is a pro tip: you can pay for only one tasting but share it. This limits your outlay and keeps you from having a “little too much” if you are going to be driving later.
One other place I want to specifically call out is the Area 51 Winery. Namely because we found a great lunch here in the form of a Charcuteire plate for only $16 which includes meat and cheese. A really good place to have lunch while you are wine tasting and ensure you have something in your stomach while you are getting all that alcohol.
Lastly, if you do need a break and want a nice walk. Go back to the main road and take a walk down the pier. Very nice out there and several places to eat. You also get some spectacular views of the Santa Barbara Coast from there.