SANTA MARIA, CA-It’s all about the winery in Santa Maria Valley. If you’re looking for a great escape to relax, sip some wine (actually a lot of it) and enjoy picturesque scenery, you won’t be disappointed in what Santa Maria Valley has to offer. Actually, Santa Maria Valley is the perfect place to be if you come from a hustle and bustle place like Los Angeles County or one of its running over with people suburbs.
About an hour away from Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley is unique in that it is the perfect slowdown place to go. Looking for a different experience or getaway, my wife and I gave it some thought after some urging from friends and made it a point to head north. After hearing so much about the place, we decided to finally take the plunge and take the three-hour drive up there.
We didn’t really know what to expect as we drove through the scenic 101 Highway, zipping past Camarillo and Santa Barbara on the way there. The plan was to spend two nights and three days as we celebrated our wedding anniversary. The main attraction, of course, is the wine and some of the many wine-tasting places around there. If you’re looking for a Magic Mountain experience, you might want to re-think those plans.
Santa Maria Valley is not one of those places. It is a quaint town that highlights its wine breathtaking vineyards, good-tasting food and a throwback to yesteryear with the way downtown Old Town Orcutt, which is part of the Santa Maria Valley experience, is constructed with its trolley service and western-type setup. This is a straight chill environment where antique shops, mom and pops small businesses and creative food joints dominate the ambiance.
Of course, whenever I go out of town, I am always curious to check out local food places that have nothing to do with chain restaurants. I am always drawn to taking in local eateries and their choices of dishes that they offer to customers. So, my wife and I checked out the Far Western Taven, which bills its cuisine as “authentic.” We decided not to do anything fancy, so we opted for the lunch menu and took in sandwiches to compliment our side order of salad.
The verdict on the Chile Bird Sandwich and well-seasoned fries we ate was that the meal was hot, spicy and there was plenty of it. I guess Texas is not the only place where they do things big. That would be a recurring theme throughout our visit to Santa Maria Valley. Unlike some places in and around Los Angeles, you don’t have to worry about feeling cheated out of a meal in downtown Orcutt with the amount food they serve you. You will get your fill on.
One of the other things I picked up on about the food served there, you don’t get a lot of extra to try to make a meal great. The meals speak for themselves, which tend to be fresh and not something taken out from the freezer and warmed up for your dining pleasure. Now Blast 825 Brewery (formerly known as Rooney’s Irish Pub) takes this to another level.
Again, my wife and I got fixated on the sandwiches, so went through the menu and made out our selections. I chose to try out the Tri-Tip Sandwich (definitely against my doctor’s advice), while she chose the Saladino’s Italian Sausage Sandwich. Yes, that sounds delicious, doesn’t it? All I can say is “wow.” I only managed to throw down on half of my sandwich and their tasty criss cut fries and came away full and immensely satisfied.
When I do make it back to Santa Maria Valley, Blast 825 Brewery will probably be my first stop. The crux of the trip, however, was to focus on the experience of what we sipped down our throats. It was a different experience for both my wife and I. So like a baby being weaned off the bottle, we tried out Naughty Oak Brewery Company before we hit the wine tasting trail. Naughty Oak Brewery Company is centered around the variety of beer products it sells.
Neither my wife or I are avid beer drinkers, but we tried out the Uncle Red, which is a more fruitful tasting beverage. But the best selling point for me is the root beer. Whatever they put in their root beer should be cataloged and shipped around the country. It’s that good. So for the main event, the wine tasting tour, my wife and I hopped aboard the Santa Maria Wine Trolley and enjoyed our ride through wine country.
There are two words to describe it: simply beautiful. If you love nature and all of its glory, you certainly will embrace the backdrop of being guided through the wine vineyards that make up the wonderful experience of visiting Santa Maria Valley. I must say it was quite an experience.
We set our sights on soaking in the sun and enjoy tasting the 2015 Pinot Noir (Rim Rock Vineyard), the 2015 Chardonnay (Presqu’ile Vineyard), the 2014 Pinot Noir (Presqu’ile Vineyard), the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Maria Valley), the 2015 Chardonnay (Steiner Creek Vineyard), and the 2015 Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley) at the lovely Presqu’ile Winery.
My wife and I totally took in the whole Santa Maria Valley wonderment and had a very enjoyable time there. If you want to get your wine buds wet, it’s the place to be. But our trip was not complete without a comfortable stay at the Radisson Hotel Santa Maria. No trip out of town is worth it unless you have a Grade A place to lay your head down at night to relax and watch some television or sit by the pool. The Radisson made it all work for us with their generous accommodations and welcoming staff.