WIneries

Carhartt Vineyards

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2990A Grand Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441

805-693-5100

Website

Favorite Wines:  Grenache Blanc and Merlot  

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We stumbled upon Carhartt Vineyards when we were looking for a lunch spot in Los Olivos one afternoon.  We’re so glad we did.  Was it the Bob Marley music playing from the patio?  Maybe.  Was it the intriguing thought of having wine at the “World’s Smallest Tasting Room”?  Could be.  All we know is this place was one the more unique wine tasting experiences we had.  Everything here is laid back and it’s almost like a family party. And, yes, the wines were great, too!

Located at the end of Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, you can’t miss the “red shed” that is the Carhartt Vineyards wine tasting room.  You can fit about 6 or 8 people shoulder to shoulder.  Even that may be optimistic.  But the patio, wow.  A tree covered oasis where you can easily fit about 40 people.  The atmosphere is great, the wine flows freely and the service and knowledge of the pourers are top notch.  But they should be.  More often than not, it will be a Carhartt or member of the Carhartt family who’ll be doing the pouring.

Based upon the crowds when we visited on a Saturday afternoon, this is one of the hottest spots to be in Los Olivos.  Carhartt (yes, they’re part of THAT Carhartt family) has a wide selection of wines that are reasonably priced.  It’s probably better to say exceptionally priced for the quality of the wine.

Carhartt grows merlot, syrah, sauvignon blanc, grenache and petite syrah on 10 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley and also Sangiovese at nearby 11 Oaks Ranch.  All of their wines are great.  It’s really hard to pick a favorite.  The whites were really great and the reds were as well.  If we had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the Grenache Blanc and the Merlot.  Whites are in the $20-$30 range and most reds are $30-$40.  

They have a great wine club, where you can buy as few as two bottles in quarterly shipments.  There are four tiers in the wine club. We joined the club because it’s such a great value.  And in addition to getting great wines on a regular schedule, you also get invitations to their renowned “Pick Up Parties” and their Annual Wine Maker’s dinner held at the winery itself.

Another unique thing about Carhartt is that they have a retreat house you can rent nightly at their 11 Oaks Ranch.  It’s super-luxe and wine club members get a discount.  You can check it out in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M41wjpyqIC0

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Bella Cavalli Farms & Vineyard

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 959 E. Hwy 246
Solvang, CA 93464

(805) 688-7108

www.bellacavallifarms.com

Favorite Wines:  White Cabernet, Albariño, Tempranillo & Pinot Noir

Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley

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Bella Cavalli Farms is located right next door to the infamous Flag Is Up Farms, owned by famed horse whisperer, Monty Roberts.  Bella Cavalli owner Jeff Lockwood purchased half of the original ranch and now also provides equestrian facilities and services.  He also raises olives and wine grapes on the land as well. The winery is only open by appointment.  Bella Cavalli translates to “beautiful horses” in Italian.

One the ranch, Jeff grows Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Albariño, Temperanillo, and Grenache grapes.  As you enter the ranch off of Highway 246 just outside of Solvang, you can see the vineyards, along side the horse pastures.  In addition to producing estate wines from each of those varietals, Jeff also makes Pinot Noir and Syrah, sourced from other local growers, as well as a dessert wine.  The most interesting wine produced by Bella Cavalli is a white wine called Bianco Rosso, which is a white cabernet sauvignon.  It’s the perfect summer patio wine and is extremely unique.

Bella Cavalli wines are available only on-site or via the wine club.  Their wines are not distributed to retailers or restaurants, so these are a very unique fine.  At the ranch, there’s a small tasting room and wine shop, as well as very nice outdoor seating area.  Here you can enjoy your wines under the large shade trees and watch the horses graze in the pastures.  There’s also a very large, modern, show barn that you can visit.

Check out the wine club on their website.  Because of limited production, you must request membership in the wine club, before being allowed to purchase wines.  If you’re interested in visiting Bella Cavalli, you can enquire with Wine Tours Santa Ynez who has exclusive access to the winery.

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Sanford Winery – Lompoc, CA

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5010 Santa Rosa Road
Lompoc, CA 93436

800-426-9463

www.sanfordwinery.com

Varietals: Primarily Pinot Noir & Chardonnay

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Sanford was the first winery in Santa Barbara County to plant Pinot Noir.  Situated in the Santa Rita Hills area, south of Lompoc and west of the 101, Sanford has two main vineyards.  The Sanford Benedict Vineyards consist of 135 acres of vineyard planted mainly with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Rancho la Rinconada consists of 130 acres planted with both varietals as well.

The main winery was built in 2001 with adobe bricks made by Sanford employees.  The winery sits amongst the vineyards of Rancho la Rinconada.  Sanford also has a tasting room in the La Arcada Plaza in Santa Barbara.

Our favorite wines during our visit were two of their white wines, the 2009 La Entrada Chardonnay and the 2010 Sanford & Benedict Viognier.  Both of these wines are only available at the winery.  Our favorite red was the 2010 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir.  This outstanding Pinot was rated 93 points by Wine Spectator.

During our visit, we only visited the tasting room and did not visit the cellars.

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