Tag Archives: Santa Maria

Presqu’ile Winery | Los Olivos, CA

Presqu’ile Wine – Los Olivos, CA

Every time I head up to Los Olivos, CA, I feel like the town just gets better and better. With every trip, I seem to uncover an incredible new wine or a fun, new place to grab a bite. This past weekend was certainly no exception.

Presqu’ile Wine – Los Olivos, CA

Presqu’ile Wine – Los Olivos, CA

I decided to try the wines of Presqu’ile and instantly fell in love. The Presqu’ile Wine tasting room is located a couple of doors down from the recently opened Sides Hardware & Shoes restaurant. The restaurant had a 45 minute wait, so we put down our names and headed to Presqu’ile.

Anna Murphy in the Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

We walked in the front door and I couldn’t help notice the incredibly cool decor. The room was painted in a deep charcoal that was warmed with splashes of color, interesting art, and great lighting. It was refreshing to see a tasting room with such a unique and contemporary design.

Proper pronunciation of Presqu’ile cleverly written on the tasting room wall

Colorful art on the wall at Presqu’ile

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

I was also thrilled to see a doggy water bowl on the front porch when we arrived. Our dog Booker was welcomed inside and instantly made friends with the tasting room dog, Hazel.

Booker and his new friend Hazel having a blast

While the dogs played, we sat at the bar and started our tasting. They offer a Presqu’ile Flight for $10 which includes a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Rose and a Pinot Noir. They also offer a tasting flight of 3 Pinot Noirs for $15, or you can taste all 6 wines for $20.

Wine wall at Presqu’ile

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Menu

We opted for the “taste them all” option, and tasting room manager Anna Murphy took us through the line up while she told us about the history of the winery.

We learned that the Murphy Family owns Presqu’ile and that the name means “almost an island” – an homage to a very special piece of land in the Gulf Coast that belonged to her family and was lost during Hurricane Katrina. The family is working on a permanent Santa Maria winery/tasting room that will open Summer 2013.

Chandelier in the Presqu’ile tasting room

Back to the wine. I thought the entire line up was pretty incredible and had a difficult time picking favorites. Winemaker Dieter Cronje handcrafts the wines in a perfectly balanced, elegant, food friendly style which I really enjoyed – especially in an area with so many super-juicy Pinot Noirs and buttery Chardonnays.

Photo of winemaker Dieter Cronje

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

The hot day helped me narrow down my purchases to a 2010 Presqu’ile Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley ($35) and a 2011 Presqu’ile Rose of Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley ($18). I will definitely be back for several bottles of Pinot Noir on my next visit.

Overall, I was so happy we visited Presqu’ile. Anna was such a pleasure to chat with, the vibe of the tasting room was so welcoming and fresh, Booker got a great workout playing with Hazel, and the wines were fantastic. I can’t wait for my next visit.

Click here to visit the Presqu’ile Winery website.

PRESQU’ILE WINERY – TASTING ROOM
2369 Alamo Pintado Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 688-2022
Email: info@presquilewine.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Monday

Dog Friendly Wineries in Santa Barbara Wine Country

The wine country just north of Santa Barbara is hands down one of my favorite destinations for a weekend trip. Considering how often I visit the area, I’ve made it a point to find out which wineries are dog friendly.

Our dog Booker heading out on another wine tasting trip…

Just as I discovered in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara is full of wineries that welcome dogs with open arms. I’ve listed a few of my favorite wineries below and plan to expand this list with each visit…

  • Foxen Vineyard & Winery
    7600 Foxen Canyon Road
    Santa Maria, CA 93454
    Ph: (805) 937-4251
    Fax: (805) 937-0415
    Email: info@foxenvineyard.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 4PM
    Notes: Foxen is an extremely dog-friendly winery where leashed dogs can be brought into the tasting room at both locations (the main winery at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road & “The Shack” at 7200 Foxen Canyon Road). At the main winery, Booker was allowed inside with us on a leash or in one of the several outdoor seating areas where he was able to relax while we sipped wine. At foxen 7200 (“The Shack), Booker was allowed to come inside the small tasting room with us or sit outside with us on the deck and bask in the sun. At both locations, the tasting room staff brought him water and showered him with loads of attention. He absolutely loved it.

    Outdoor area at Foxen Vineyard & Winery

    Dog friendly Foxen 7200 (“The Shack”)

  • Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
    6200 Foxen Canyon Road
    Los Olivos, CA 93441
    Ph: (805) 688-1545
    Email: infowinery@fessparker.com
    Hours: Daily 10AM – 5PM
    Notes: Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is a dog’s dream. The winery is situated on a beautiful piece of land with a huge, perfectly manicured lawn where dogs are able to run around until their hearts are content. I actually didn’t inquire if they were allowed inside the tasting room because the outside area was just too perfect. We did a tasting, bought a bottle and sat outside with wine and snacks while Booker and his cousin Bodo played. Just remember to be courteous… even though dogs are allowed to be off leash, the lawn is also a picnic area so don’t forget to bring a leash with, as well as some potty bags and water.

    Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

    Dogs hanging out at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

    Dogs playing on the lawn at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

  • Alta Maria Vineyards
    2933 Grand Avenue
    Suite A
    Los Olivos, CA 93441
    Ph: (805) 686-1144
    Email: aminfo@altamaria.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 5PM
    Notes: I was very pleasantly surprised to find out Booker was allowed in the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room. This gorgeous new tasting room is located in downtown Los Olivos and when I inquired about bringing our dog inside, I expected to have to sit outside with him. Instead, we were told he was more than welcome to come in as long as he remained on a leash and we kept an eye on him. The tasting room is beautifully decorated and somewhat small, so this was definitely not a place for an excessively large or high energy dog. They apologized for not having a water bowl for him, which was totally fine. We were just happy he could be inside with us. He got to take a nap on the cool stone floor while we enjoyed some amazing wines.

    Small outdoor seating area at Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

    Our dog Booker napping on the cool stone floor at Alta Maria Vineyards

  • Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
    7250 Santa Rosa Road
    Buellton, CA 93427
    Ph: (805) 688-9090
    Email: info@almarosawinery.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 4:30PM
    Notes: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards is a rustic, off the beaten path winery that some may remember from the movie Sideways. Booker was welcome to relax inside the tasting room on a leash, as well as roam around outside on Alma Rosa’s beautiful property. The tasting room staff happily gave him some water and a local dog who helps herd livestock in the area came down from the hills to say hello.

    Beautiful and rustic Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Booker roaming around outside at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Taking a stroll at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Booker hanging out with us inside the Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards tasting room

    Very sweet (and very dirty) local dog stopped by to say hello at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Lots more to come!…

Related Posts:
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles – Part 2

Foxen Vineyard & Winery…Again.

I realize this is the third time (at least) I’ve written about Foxen Vineyard & Winery, but as I sit here opening up my latest wine club shipment, I feel like a quick post is definitely in order.

Foxen Wine Club Open House

I patiently waited for three long years to be accepted into Foxen’s Anchor Wine Club. Due to the relatively small production at Foxen, wine club membership is limited and waiting lists are often long. But now that I’m a member, I can say without hesitation that the wait was 100% worth it.

As a member of the Foxen Anchor Club, I’ve been enjoying great discounts at the winery and feel like a kid on Christmas every time I receive one of my regular quarterly wine shipments (many of which are wine club exclusives). However, one of my best club experiences thus far happened on February 25th at Foxen’s first ever Wine Club Open House.

Heading into the barrel room at Foxen’s Wine Club Open House

We started our day of tasting at the Foxen shack where we tried a few wines before heading up to the newer, larger winery for the private event. When we arrived, we were led directly into the barrel room – a place that I’ve been dying to see ever since it was built.

Inside the Foxen Vineyard & Winery barrel room…

We signed in, were given name tags and wine glasses, and started our tasting on the east side of the barrel room. As we walked past neatly stacked barrels towards the folding table where a small crowd was gathered, I realized the man pouring was winemaker Bill Wathen.

Foxen’s winemaker Bill “Billy” Wathen

Bill “Billy” Wathen has been lovingly hand-crafting the wines at Foxen from day one. As I walked up to Billy, I have to admit I felt a bit starstruck. I’ve been hearing about the “Foxen Boys” Bill and Dick for years, but I had never met them in the flesh.

I introduced myself to Billy and he poured us tastes of his latest offerings, including a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – Vogelzang Vineyard, a 2010 Chardonnay – Tinaquaic Vineyard, a 2010 Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley, and a 2010 Pinot Noir – John Sebastiano Vineyard.

More views from inside the Foxen barrel room

I truly have never tried a wine at Foxen that I didn’t like and I feel like the Pinot Noir’s that come out of Foxen are unparalleled. Such was the case during this visit. It was such a wonderful opportunity to have the winemaker walk us through his creations.

After we tried the first four wines, we headed to the snack table where we grabbed a selection of cheeses, almonds, olives, meats and chocolates – all of which were a nice complement to the wine. Then we moved on to the west side of the barrel room to finish our tasting.

More views from inside the Foxen barrel room…

On the way to the west end of the room, we bumped into Dick Dore – Bill Wathen’s partner at Foxen and the man behind the slogan “if you don’t know Foxen, you don’t know Dick”. We got a chance to speak to Dick about some of the dinners and events Foxen has coming up – some of which were happening in my hometown just outside of Chicago.

We found that Billy had moved to the west side tasting table, so we were fortunate enough to have him pour our last three tastes – a 2009 Pinot Noir – La Encantada Vineyard, a 2008 Volpino – Santa Ynez Valley, and a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Vogelzang Vineyard.

The wine list from the Foxen Wine Club Open House

We chatted a bit more and enjoyed our last tastes on a picture-perfect Santa Maria afternoon. I walked away with a couple extra bottles of the 2010 John Sebastiano Vineyard and the 2009 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir’s – both of which were too good for words. If you can get your hands on either bottle, you’ll be very pleased you did. They’re heavenly.

Dick Dore outside the Foxen Vineyard & Winery barrel room

I absolutely loved being part of this wine club event and hope it’s something Foxen does more regularly. I’ve been to several other wine club events, but I’ve never been to one that felt quite so relaxed and personal. It was so nice to meet Billy, Dick, Allyson, Lee and the rest of the crew.

As I open my wine club shipment, I feel like I have an even deeper connection to what is inside and know a bit more about how each wine came to be. I look forward to the next one…

Click here to visit the Foxen Vineyard website.

FOXEN WINERY & VINEYARD
(business address & tasting room)
7600 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Daily

(foxen 7200 “the shack”)
7200 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415

Alta Maria Vineyards

Alta Maria Vineyards

It seems like every time I visit the Santa Maria Valley north of Santa Barbara, I discover an incredible wine that I’ve never tried before. On a recent visit, I not only found some new wines, but I discovered one of my new favorite wineries in the area.

Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

Tucked away in the charming town of Los Olivos sits the new Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room. Although the tasting room is less than one year old, wine makers Paul Wilkins and James Ontiveros have been making wine for years. In fact, the Ontiveros family has a long ranching and farming history in the area. They drove thousands of heads of cattle into the Santa Maria Valley in the early 1800′s, finally settling there on the Rancho Tepusquet Land Grant of 1837.

With a rich farming history, a shared love of the land in the Santa Maria Valley, and a mutual passion for wine running through their blood, college friends Paul and James decided to turn their passions into careers. James’ expertise lies in viticulture while Paul serves as winemaker.

Pinot Noir label from Alta Maria Vineyards

Before stopping in the tasting room, I had heard about Alta Maria Vineyards and had seen their unmistakable bottles at specialty wine stores around CA.

The artwork on Alta Maria’s wines features hand-hewn iron nails used by homesteaders in Santa Maria before the Industrial Revolution. Each nail was essentially a one-of-a-kind based on the conditions in which it was made along with the expertise of the craftsman. This same idea of uniqueness and authentic, artisan craftsmanship carries seamlessly through to the wines of Alta Maria Vineyards.

Inside the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room

When we walked into the gorgeous tasting room, we had our dog with us and assumed we would be sitting outside with him. On the contrary, he was welcomed inside with open arms and sat by us at the bar while we did our tasting.

Inside the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room

Inside, the tasting room was warm and comfortable with natural stone floors, aged leather chairs, and a great cowhide rug. Our tasting consisted of four Alta Maria Vineyards wines: a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2009 Chardonnay, a 2009 Pinot Noir, and a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our dog Booker napping on the nice, cool floor

We also tried a 2008 and 2009 Native9 Pinot Noir, and a 2008 Autonom Rhone Cuvee. Native9 (strictly Pinot Noir) and Autonom (focused on Rhone varietals) are labels Paul and James produce in limited quantities along with the Alta Maria wines.

The wines of Alta Maria Vineyards

I truly loved all the wines we tried and could taste the attention to detail in each glass. I took home a few bottles of the crisp Alta Maria Sauvignon Blanc, the Alta Maria Pinot Noir, and the lush Autonom Rhone Cuvee – all of which I thought were really exceptional.

Alta Maria Vineyards

I’m so glad to have found Alta Maria Vineyards and recommend it to anyone visiting Los Olivos. It is officially on my list of regular go-to spots in the area.

Click here to visit the Alta Maria Vineyards website.

ALTA MARIA VINEYARDS
2933 Grand Avenue
Suite A
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 686-1144
Email: aminfo@altamaria.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Daily

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

When people ask for winery recommendations in the Santa Maria area, I never hesitate to recommend Rancho Sisquoc Winery.

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Located at the north end of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, Rancho Sisquoc is not only in a gorgeous setting, but it seems to have a wine for just about every palate.

Entrance to Rancho Sisquoc Winery

One of the first things visitors see as they approach Rancho Sisquoc is the old chapel perched on top of a hill overlooking the entrance. The San Ramon Chapel as its called was built in 1875 by Frederick Wickenden, at the request of his wife, Ramona Foxen Wickenden. Frederick drove 5,000 sheep up north to Redwood City, which he sold to purchase redwood boards to build his home and the chapel you see today.

San Ramon Chapel

San Ramon Chapel

The San Ramon Chapel was officially dedicated in 1879 and services were held once a month. The chapel’s structure was built on stilts, which often resulted in service being disrupted by cold temperatures and wind. When attendance dropped, the chapel was used for special services only.

History of the San Ramon Chapel

Another weathered plaque outside of San Ramon Chapel

Fortunately, the San Ramon chapel began a period of rebirth in July 1966 when it became the first official landmark in Santa Barbara County. On August 31, 1975 the chapel was dedicated as State Historical Landmark #877 and in November 1976, Father Anthony Runtz agreed to restore regular services. Finally, in 1979 the San Ramon Preservation Committee was formed. Their job is to maintain the beautiful chapel and to preserve its historical integrity.

The chapel with its storied past appears as the logo on every bottle of Rancho Sisquoc wine.

San Ramon Chapel

After a trip down the long driveway – barely wide enough for two cars – visitors approach the cozy little tasting room. Every time I visit, I’m taken aback by the charming surroundings at Rancho Sisquoc. It feels as if you’re miles away from Foxen Canyon Road and surrounded by a lush landscape with a perfectly placed, wood shingled wine cottage and an inviting, secluded little picnic area.

The Rancho Sisquoc Winery tasting room

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

I come to Rancho Sisquoc Winery on a regular basis for three main reasons: the beautiful setting, consistently good wines, and prices that are surprisingly affordable. I love that I can walk away with several bottles of great wine without feeling like I broke the bank.

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Picnic area at Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Rancho Sisquoc has a portfolio of 12 beautifully crafted and reasonably priced wines from which to choose. From a sweet Riesling with hints of citrus to a dark velvety Malbec full of black fruit, tasters get to choose 6 wines from the list for an $8.00 fee (logo glass included). The least expensive wine is priced around $12.00 and the top end is $30.00 per bottle.

The wide variety of wines at Rancho Sisquoc

I always walk away with a few bottles of Tre Vini and Sylvaner – both of which are unique to Rancho Sisquoc. Tre Vini ($20/bottle) is an Italian blend that seems to change slightly with each vintage and pairs perfectly with Italian food. The latest vintage (2008) is a unique blend of 52% Sangiovese, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon & 22% Syrah, and is absolutely delicious.

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

The ’09 Sylvaner ($14/bottle) on the other hand is a white blend of the Sylvaner grape with 16% Riesling. Rancho Sisquoc is the only producer of this varietal in California. It’s perfect for summer with hints of light lime, apricot, sweet pear and roasted peanuts on the nose and a crisp, slightly sweet finish. It’s very unique and loved by many – including those who don’t typically enjoy drinking white wine. I’ve also purchased Rancho Sisquoc’s Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir, and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every bottle.

With over 30 years of experience making estate grown wines and a claim of being one of the first wineries in the now famous Santa Barbara County wine region, Rancho Sisquoc Winery truly knows their craft.

Click here to visit the Rancho Sisquoc Winery website.

RANCHO SISQUOC WINERY
6600 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 934-4332
Fax: (805) 937-6601
Tasting room hours: 10AM – 4PM Monday through Thursday. 10AM – 5PM Friday through Sunday.

Demetria Estate Winery

The gated entry to Demetria Estate Winery

When we arrived at the Demetria Estate Winery, I was convinced we were no longer in California. This gorgeous winery transported me to a villa in Tuscany with sweeping views of the vine-covered hills and an outdoor tasting area where visitors are encouraged to linger, sip wine, and soak up the beautiful scenery.

Demetria Estate Winery is a hidden gem tucked off the beaten path above Foxen Canyon. A visit to the tasting room requires a reservation, 2 gate codes, and a 2 mile or so drive down a narrow, winding road with vineyards on both sides. While some people may not want to go through the trouble, it is well worth a visit and reservations are fairly easy to come by unless the winery is extremely crowded (which hasn’t been an issue after 3 different visits).

A sign leading the way along the drive up to Demetria

Grapevines and amazing views along the way…

Grapes ready for picking…

When we finally reached the tasting room, I was amazed by the unsurpassed beauty of the place. The building itself looks like it belongs in Italy or Greece with its terracota finish, huge weathered wooden doors, a fountain in front, and lush trees, shrubs and flowers everywhere you look.

The front of the Demetria Estate Winery & Tasting Room

Entering the outdoor seating area…

Visitors enjoying the outdoor tasting area…

When we arrived at the tasting room, we were warmly welcomed by the owner John Zahoudanis, his brother who was visiting from the bay area and the owner’s son who manages the tasting room. While it was gorgeous outside, we decided to enjoy our current company and do a tasting indoors.

The one thing I noticed right away was the great family vibe. John the owner was preoccupied because a big party had arrived in a tour bus who had not only failed to make reservations, but were also rearranging the perfectly set up outdoor area by moving tables around and generally making a mess of the place.

His brother kept us entertained by pouring wine and telling us about his job of developing smart energy grids in northern California which sounded like the environmental wave of the future. John’s son did a great job of keeping the flow of the place going – selling wine, helping with tastings, and generally making sure everyone was happy and comfortable. It was wonderful. I felt like we were thrown into a big family gathering on a beautiful summer day.

One of the many lovely details in the outdoor tasting area…

Inside the Demetria tasting room

Owner John Zahoudanis talking to guests in the tasting room kitchen

Established in 2005, Demetria Estate is a family owned winery. Their wines are artfully crafted to showcase the unique growing conditions of both the Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Rita Hills. Demetria Estate is focused on low yields, sustainable and biodynamic farming practices, and gentle winemaking which enables them to produce wines of exceptional quality.

Demetria Estate grew out of the desire of owners John and Sandra Zahoudanis to continue a family legacy connecting his Greek heritage with their family’s future. John grew up on a modest family farm at the base of Mount Olympus in Greece. Sadly, his family was uprooted following the devastation of both World War II and the Greek Civil war.

The unparalleled beauty and Mediterranean feel of the Demetria Estate reminded John of his homeland and became the perfect location to carry on the family tradition of farming and careful stewardship of the land. Demetria is named after John and Sandra’s daughter, Demetria. The name is fitting as it means “goddess of harvest” in the ancient Greek language.

Me and the Zahoudanis family…

Demetria Estate produces two distinct portfolios of wines based upon two exceptional vineyard properties ideally situated in the finest growing regions of the Central Coast: pinot noir and chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills, and biodynamically grown Rhone-style wines from the Demetria Estate in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Winemaking at Demetria is lead by Michael Roth who brings over a decade of experience in Napa and Sonoma to the emerging region. The process of biodynamic farming is guided by Philippe Armenier, formerly of Domaine Marcoux in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Visitors enjoying wine at the Demetria tasting room…

I was truly impressed by all the wines we tried at Demetria Estate. One stand out was the 2007 Cuvée Papou – a biodynamic white Rhone blend with wild floral notes on the nose and a rich crispness of apple, orange blossom, passion fruit and subtle apricot flavors on the palate. I walked away with 2 bottles.

I also loved the beautifully balanced 2008 Chardonnay with hints of citrus complemented by nuances of vanilla and lemon curd, and the wonderful 2007 Pinot Noir – Santa Rita Hills which was brimming with strawberries, cherries and blackberries married with just the right amount of spice and cedar. The pinot noir is not to be missed.

Demetria Estate Winery is now a regular stop on our trips to the Santa Ynez Valley and is guaranteed to become a favorite for anyone who visits.

Click here to visit the Demetria Estate Winery website.

Demetria Estate Winery
6701 Foxen Canyon Road
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 686-2345
Fax: (805) 686-2522
email: inquires@demetriaestate.com
Tasting room hours: Open daily by appointment only

Foxen Vineyard & Winery

FOXEN Vineyards & Winery

Foxen is not a new discovery for me, however I can’t think of any other place I’d rather begin. I first came across Foxen on a lazy Saturday afternoon. We had just visited several wineries along the beautiful Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and finished our day of tasting at this casual, magical little winery.

We pulled up to the place and I immediately fell in love. This was when Foxen’s new solar-powered tasting room was nothing but an empty plot of land and all that existed was the rustic tasting room – now referred to as Foxen 7200.

Foxen 7200 “the shack”

After a day of visiting several slightly more commercial/corporate tasting rooms, I loved the fact that Foxen was a little shack built from aged, reclaimed looking wood. I loved the A-frame chalkboard “open” sign perched in front. I loved that the parking lot was a little gravel space that backed up against the rolling hills. I loved the back deck – ideal for hanging out and enjoying wine under the crystal clear blue sky while hummingbirds dart around, sipping nectar from the feeder the winery provides. I loved the small tasting room with select merchandise and memorabilia collected since the winery was founded in 1985 by Bill Wathen and Dick Dore. I loved the friendly employees with laid back attitudes who clearly have a passion for educating people about the wine they pour. I loved all of it.

Foxen 7200 “the shack”

And then we tasted the wine. After trying a handful of wines on this particular day – some good and some forgettable – Foxen was outstanding. From the crisp and perfectly acidic Chenin Blanc to the juicy fruit-filled Pinot Noir (appropriately called “Pinot candy”) to the bolder Bordeaux styles (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and their delicious Range 30 West blend), I was thoroughly impressed. One of my favorites was the ’07 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir. I liked it so much that when I learned the winery had sold out of the vintage, I found stock at a local wine store and bought out their entire inventory.

The back deck at “the shack” and the original Foxen winery

Foxen winery is named in memory of William Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain and Dick’s great-great grandfather, who came to Santa Barbara in the early 1800′s. Captain Foxen adopted the distinctive “anchor” as his ranch cattle brand, which has become a trademark of the winery and is seen on every bottle of wine produced.

Needless to say, I’ve been back to Foxen several times since my first visit. It’s my happy place – my go-to winery any time I want incredible, consistently good wine. And I absolutely love the tasting room at 72oo Foxen Canyon Road. I can’t think of a better place to sit outside, sip wine, and truly relax.

New winery & tasting room at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road

The new tasting room at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road

In 2009, Foxen opened a new state of the art, solar-powered winery and tasting room just up the road from the original tasting shack. While the original tasting room has a very special (and slightly favored) place in my heart, the new tasting room is special in its own right. The original shack or “Foxen 7200″ is still open and now pours Bordeaux and Cal-Italian style wines while the new spacious and bright location focuses on Burgundy (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) as well as Rhone style wines. Tasters have the option to try 5 wines at the location of their choosing ($10 tasting fee per location), or pay $12 to taste 3 wines at the new tasting room and 3 at Foxen 7200.

The new solar-powered winery & tasting room at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road

The new FOXEN winery

We last visited Foxen 2 weeks ago and opted to drive up from Los Angeles on Friday night. We ended up camping at nearby Lake Cachuma on Friday so we could make the most of the following day. The campsite was beautiful and the drive to wine country in the morning was easy as can be. On this particular visit, we tasted the 5 wines at the new tasting location which included the ’07 Chenin Blanc, ’08 Chardonnay, ’08 Pinot Noir, ’07 Cuvee Jeanne Marie, and ’06 Syrah. As usual, we left with smiles on our faces and several bottles of wine in the trunk.

Burgundy & Rhone varietals at FOXEN

Foxen is well worth a visit for anyone exploring the wineries around Santa Barbara. Both Foxen and Foxen 7200 are open daily from 11 am til 4 pm. I know I’ll be back soon…

Click here to visit the Foxen Vineyard website.

FOXEN WINERY & VINEYARD
(business address & tasting room)
7600 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Daily

(foxen 7200 “the shack”)
7200 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415