The Santa Ynez Valley has all the makings of a romantic date – lush, rolling hills beneath your feet, sweet sunshine above your head and wineries, small towns and nature-escapes all around. Now that the scenery has done half the work, here are eight ideas for romantic dates in Santa Ynez Valley.
Romance in the Santa Ynez Valley
Couples massage at Santa Ynez Valley Marriott – Unwind with your loved one by letting the hotel’s Natural Balance massage therapist work the worries right out of your muscles. The hotel offers a bounty of options including deep tissue massages that last 50 or 80 minutes.
Picnic at Nojoqui Falls Park – Pack a picnic complete with blanket, wine and games and take the short hike to Nojoqui Falls. The sound of the water and the experience of being secluded in the park will make the afternoon one to remember.
Glider Ride – Take a scenic flight with Windhaven Glider Rides and have your breath taken away by California’s natural beauty. Climbing 2,500 feet above the lower ridges of the Santa Ynez Coastal Mountain Range, you’ll see views of Lake Cachuma and the Santa Barbara Coastline.
Visit Solvang – As you soak in the Danish ambiance of this Santa Ynez Valley town, you’ll wonder if you’re even actually in California. Meander underneath windmills and in and out of the town’s unique shops, art galleries, restaurants and bakeries – and don’t forget to stroll the gardens of the Santa Ynez Mission!
Bike Tours – From strenuous workout to relaxing jaunt, the Santa Ynez Valley offers a bounty of bike tour options. Whichever you choose, beautiful backdrops will surround you as the wind whips past your face and you soak in some rays. Many bike companies also offer a wine tasting/ bike combo, which, after a workout never sounds like a bad idea.
Wine Tasting & Horseback Riding Tour – If bike rides aren’t your idea of a romantic date, maybe horseback tours are. With many tours to choose from, you can even combine the outing with a wine tasting and gourmet lunch – because that’s just what we do in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Sideways Tour – If you’re both cinema fans, retrace the story of the movie Sideways! 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the Oscar-award winning film and Santa Ynez Valley plans to celebrate all year. From stops at boutique wineries to meals at the exact restaurants, let the story come to life as you follow Miles and Jack’s steps. There’s even a map to do just that.
Romantic dates in Santa Ynez Valley may be easy to come by, but a great place to stay can be hard to find. At the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, we’d like to think that we’re experts at both. While planning your romantic Santa Ynez Valley date, be sure to book the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott Romance Package, complete with deluxe overnight accommodations for two, a bottle of champagne or wine upon arrival and breakfast buffet for two at our Starting Gate Restaurant.
There’s something special about the days that stretch between Christmas and New
Years – rare moments with families home from work and school. It’s also the perfect time for a quick trip!
In this neck of the woods, wine-getaways are the tried and true option, but among the region’s rolling vineyards, a few quirky neighbors offer the makings of a perfect Santa Ynez Valley family getaway. Whether your calendar lets you skip town for a few days or a few hours, these family-friendly trips will make the most of your time in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Family Fun in Santa Ynez Valley
The universal rule that everything is cuter in miniature form comes to life at Quicksilver Ranch. Few people know that SYV carries the nickname, “Kentucky of the West,” but this ranch lives up to the label by inviting visitors to visit their miniature horses up-close. Gentle, mild-mannered and patient, these miniature hosts will be the perfect company for an afternoon in the sun-soaked hills of Santa Ynez Valley.
While the Santa Ynez Valley is dotted with lavender fields, Clairmont Lavender Farms is one of the few that actually invites visitors to peruse its fields and picnic on its lush, sweetly-scented grounds. A family-owned farm, Clairmont is five acres of sun-soaked Grosso lavender and 300 year-old oak trees. Also, their essential oil, lavender based personal care products and homemade soaps are all organically made and available for purchase in the farm’s shop.
Seein’ Spots Farm
A family-owned farm in Santa Ynez Valley, Seein’ Spots Farm became famous in recent years for Zeyore, a donkey-zebra cross. Otherwise filled with miniature donkeys (yes, you read that right) that are never more than 36 inches tall, the farm is a barnyard delight. Also, originally an apple farm, the land still holds over 800 apple trees that can be picked from late August to November. Loyal, sweet and affectionate, the miniature donkeys welcome visitors of all sizes into their petting areas and encourage the smallest of these to take part in the farm’s kiddie rides.
Ostrich Land USA
If miniature horses and donkeys (or even a zonkey) aren’t tempting enough, perhaps Ostrich Land USA is calling your name. The ostriches and emus that parade the property are available for visiting, feeding and petting. Bonus: the lush land that they roam is reminiscent of their natural habitats, lulling in you into the feeling that you’re on safari. The site’s shop also sells intriguing keepsakes including ostrich and emu egg shells, emu oils, feather dusters and ostrich meat
Hike in Los Padres National Forest
Mountains, streams, rivers and beaches – Los Padres National Forest holds beauty that will take your breath away. Stretch your legs and let yourself wander some of California’s natural sites as you take one of the park’s numerous day hikes. While most campsites are closed for winter, this is one place to bookmark for warmer weather romps.
Nojoqui Falls Park A short trail walk away, Nojoqui Falls is a secluded 100-foot waterfall fit for a quiet afternoon retreat. The falls are viewed best after rain, but are available to visit any time of year. Pack a lunch, blanket, board games and books to make an afternoon of it!
Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is the perfect home-base for your California adventures. When you return from a hike at the falls or a picnic in lavender fields, relax with a book and glass of wine next to our fireplace or take a dip in the heated pool before meeting your family for dinner at our Starting Gate Restaurant.
No matter the size of your clan or length of your stay, Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is ready to help you get away with those you love the most.
Merry and bright and filled to the brim with things to do – there’s nothing quite like the holiday season in the Santa Ynez Valley. Here at Santa Ynez Valley Marriot, the spirit of the season comes to life in so many ways – let us point you to the holiday events must-do list!
The Holidays in Santa Ynez Valley:
Solvang on Ice December 6-8
We know that ice skating isn’t exactly what people think of when planning a visit to California’s wine country, but that makes Solvang’s first ice skating rink all the better! Lace up your skates and prepare to show off the best of your Michelle Kwan moves under the glow of Solvang’s Christmas tree.
Santa Ynez Cowboy Christmas & Holiday Celebration
Saturday, December 7
Join Santa Ynez in kicking off the holiday season with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Clause from 1-4 pm, enjoy holiday deals from shops and restaurants and watch carolers and the tree lighting at 6 pm.
Solvang Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 7
Starting at 11 am, Solvang’s streets will be filled with dancers, musical groups, vintage vehicles and animals! Come celebrate the magic of the season and see Santa Clause who will be available for visits and photos after the parade.
Buellton WinterFest Celebration
Sunday, December 8
An all-day spectacular, the city of Buellton invites you to start the day with breakfast with Santa or come in the afternoon for concerts, cookies and cocoa. In the evening, wander the neighborhood block party, sampling from food trucks and playing in twenty tons of snow. The Mobile Light Parade will start at 6 pm and the Buellton Christmas Tree Lighting at 7 pm.
Holiday Wine Walk
December 14 & 15, 11 am- 4 pm
Enjoy a holiday taste of Solvang with the Holiday Wine Walk! A two-day event complete with 13 tasting rooms, the walk will lead you through the village, giving you ample time to savor both the holiday and Solvang spirits.
Saturday, December 14, 4-7 pm
Who knew such a genius event could exist? Brand-new to Solvang’s Julefest line-up, this delicious event invites you to Solvang Park in Downtown Solvang to jam out to the Molly Ringwald Project and holiday tunes while roasting marshmallows and creating customized s’mores from locally produced candy and baked goods.
Santa Ynez Valley Chorale Concert
December 20 – 22, 7:30 pm
The Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, Youth Chorale and Orchestra invite you to their “Welcome All Wonders” show. With music from Bach, Haydn, Mendelsohn and more to popular holiday favorites and carol sing-a-longs, it will be a night of true holiday music.
New Year’s Eve with the Molly Ringwald Project
December 31, 2013
A staple in the local-music scene, this 80s cover band will be focused on one thing alone: making New Year’s Eve the best dance party ever. Join them at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott and enjoy the prime rib buffet and midnight champagne toast to top off the night!
The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is ready to celebrate the holidays with you! Your home-base for holiday parties, get-togethers and get-aways, the Santa Ynez Vallet Marriott knows how to make the most of this merry time. Book your company or organization’s holiday event at http://syvmarriott.com.
And while you’re at it, leave the New Year’s Eve planning to us, too! Ring in 2014 with the Molly Ringwald Project 80s cover band and our Prime Rib Buffet. Special local room rates are available and after a night of great food, music and dancing – why not just take the elevator home? Buy your tickets and book your stay now.
If you are familiar with wine tasting protocol, the 5 S’s are nothing new: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor. It is a simple way to ensure that all of one’s senses are invited to take part in the richness of the wine experience. In the flavor of this ‘S’ theme, we invite you to one more ‘S’…September. An entire month dedicated to honoring the bountiful story in your glass. The state of California and in particular the incredible Santa Ynez Valley region is embracing the multi-leveled experience of wine and celebrating all things wine from grape to glass and then some. Although wine lovers rarely need an excuse to raise their glass, this is truly the opportunity to explore and appreciate the fruit of the vine.
California’s Commitment to Wine
A little background on the source: California wine is a major contributor to the economy; the state is the fourth largest wine producer in the world. Making a full 90 percent of American wine, the golden state is responsible for $18.5 billion in retail wine sales in the U.S. Its broad industry encompasses may tiers from the scenic, historic, cuisine enhancing, travel and tourism, environmentally enhancing with committed sustainable practices, to jobs for 1/3 of a million people.
That brings us to the small but wonderfully rich Santa Ynez Valley. Worlds away from Los Angeles and San Francisco, yet just a short travel distance down the road. Here there is no mystery…no pretense, as simple as See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor…in September most especially. Plan your visit soon to Uncork the Story!
Harvest in the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country is a revered season when visitors and locals can experience wine from grape to glass. In celebration, wineries and businesses throughout the Santa Ynez Valley are hosting events, classes, dinners, deals and packages .It is a unique opportunity to see, taste and buy some of the best wines California has to offer, including tastings of special releases and library wines and entertainment around every corner! Take a tour of a vineyard or winery, taste reserve wines or find the perfect food pairing at events throughout September. For special events and more information, visit the Santa Ynez Valley’s Visitor’s Association. Some of the many participating in the Santa Ynez Valley include: Sanford Winery & Vineyards, Coghlan Vineyard & Jewelers, AVANT Tapas & Wine, Brewer-Clifton Winery, Mosby Winery, Wandering Dog Wine Bar, Cimarone and 3CV Wines.
Horse lovers know that there is nothing like time with their equine partners. There is something truly magical about it! No matter how pressing life is, moments spent with a horse somehow insist you slow down and be present in the moment. Now pair that equine zen with a travel destination in which time slows down enough to set aside the details and stresses of everyday life…and an opportunity for true vacation bliss is born. The Santa Ynez Valley is one of those gems, where the pastoral ambiance affords visitors with an ease as promising as the ‘equine therapy’ also available there. Meander the country roads and stop to meet up with one of the many horses along the way or join in a twilight ride followed by world-class yet unpretentious wine tasting. It is an equestrian paradise offering a multitude of choices for all levels of horse expertise: from the city slicker to the seasoned rider, from trail riding to tours of breeding farms. Here’s a glimpse into it all.
A DAY OF WINE & HORSES – offers customized tours to world famous horse facilities and professionally guided tastings in the Santa Ynez Valley’s fabulous wineries. A delightful gourmet lunch is served on location and tours are based on the individual preferences of guests (riding or simply touring), assuring an unforgettable experience sampling the finest the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer. Whether you are a horse lover or wine lover, or better yet, both, it is an unforgettable experience.
Quicksilver Ranch – There isn’t much cuter than these tiny equines. Get up close and personal with miniature horses. Open to visitors every day from 10am-3pm. Tours are available by appointment also.
Vino Vaqueros, located along the Foxen Canyon wine trail, Vino Vaqueros lets you experience the rustic beauty, splendid vistas, and verdant vineyards of Santa Ynez Valley, cowboy style.Travel through Fess Parker Winery’s cattle ranch and up a mountain to a view that stretches for miles, then descend through the vineyard for a close-up tour of the vines. Your experience is completed with wine tasting and lunch or dinner.
Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary is dedicated to the preservation of the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, education, and conservation. The organization strives to enrich the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world and offers the opportunity to connect to your inner self, nature, and wild horses. Experience yoga outdoors in the fresh clean air and rolling hills of Santa Barbara’s Central Coast. Dine (al fresco) on fresh organic vegetarian fare. Practice stillness and mindfulness both in motion and sitting meditation. Journey into the world of wild horses with morning and evening hikes. Experience progressive healing including Reiki, crystal therapy, aromatherapy and yoga. Special events include: Guided Wild Horse Walks, Wild Horse Photography Workshops, Guided Wild Burro Walks, Private Tours, Photo Safaris, Kid’s Days and Nights at the Ranch, and more!
The 2nd Annual Santa Ynez Valley Polo Classic in Buellton takes place Saturday, July 20, 2013. Fast paced polo action, world class skill and those fabulous hats all benefiting People Helping People. Featuring several of the highest rated players in the world in addition to local Santa Ynez Valley polo celebrities, it is sure to be the event of the season!
If the mere thought of bacon cooking causes your mouth to water reminiscent of Pavlov’s pups…
If your most heartwarming childhood memories include Sunday mornings with mom cooking up that ultimate comfort food…
Then the Santa Ynez Valley, a bacon mecca in its own right, has the key to make your bacon dreams come true! The home of world-class vintages and craft beer adventure is now taking bacon-fever to a new level…because yes, even bacon pairs well with wine!
Bacon And Barrels – Imagine an entire festival dedicated to cutting edge bacon concoctions and amazing cocktails to compliment them. As the bacon craze is reaching legendary status, that is just what the Santa Ynez Valley has in store Friday – Sunday July 19-21. The weekend kicks off with an all bacon dinner under the stars in Los Olivos. Followed by Saturday’s main event, at Saarloos and Sons Field, featuring the hottest chefs from the finest local restaurants preparing dishes starring bacon in its most inventive forms. The best mixologists, brewers, and wineries will quench your thirst with refreshing bacon-based and bacon-inspired cocktails and brews. Live music will be provided by the Mother Corn Shuckers, an 8 piece acoustic Bluegrass/Americana band based out of the Central Coast of California. Bacontrepreneurs and bacon-friendly brands will exhibit their wares and even a piggy petting zoo will be on hand. Celebrity Judges will award the ‘Jefe del Porko’ award to the Top Chef and Mixologist of the day for achievement in the bacon arts. It is destined to be a raucous, rockin’ good time for all. Sunday wraps up the bacon bonanza, so don’t leave yet! Cruise around the Santa Ynez Valley with your Bacon & Barrels wristband for deals on food, wine tasting, and more. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.Tickets availability is extremely limited so don’t hesitate! **Non-drinker tickets only available to date.
Make it a relaxing getaway and extend the bacon celebration with a stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Allow our attentive staff and soothingly sophisticated yet rural atmosphere envelop you in a rejuvenating getaway. Keep in the bacon spirit as you ease into your day with our Green Chile Buellton Burrito or the The Santa Ynez Omelet from the Starting Gate Restaurant, where innovative recipes of the Santa Ynez Valley to bring you inspiring cuisine. Perhaps then indulge poolside with the Marriott Burger featuring 100% Angus chuck, aged cheddar and served with onions and yes…crisp bacon. Highlighting local produce, house-made ingredients and a selection of wines from local vintners, our selections will encourage you to indulge your palate. Finally unwind in the Winners Circle Lounge with a wide selection of Santa Ynez Valley wines and micro brews to complete your day. Click here to book your stay today!
wide selection of Santa Ynez Valley wines, micro brews – See more at: http://www.syvmarriott.com/santa-ynez-valley-dining#sthash.47KYuWqZ.dpuf
wide selection of Santa Ynez Valley wines, micro brews – See more at: http://www.syvmarriott.com/santa-ynez-valley-dining#sthash.47KYuWqZ.dpuf
Innovative recipes pare with the bounty of the Santa Ynez Valley to bring you unique cuisine to inspire and delight your senses. Local produce, house-made ingredients and a selection of wines from local vintners will encourage you to indulge your palate.
Innovative recipes pare with the bounty of the Santa Ynez Valley to bring you unique cuisine to inspire and delight your senses. Local produce, house-made ingredients and a selection of wines from local vintners will encourage you to indulge your palate.
Father’s Day is right around the corner so we’d like to share a bit of heartwarming insight into this annual third Sunday holiday in June…it’s actually not a holiday that was cleverly manufactured by the greeting card industry!
It’s roots go back to the wishes of a young girl from Washington State who wanted to honor her father for the incredible devotion he held in raising her and the 5 siblings that were left, without a mother, early in their lives. Today, millions of ‘children’ of all ages honor the dads in their lives as they celebrate Father’s Day.
The true beauty of this holiday is that it can be tailored to fit the father in your life, whether it is dad, or grandpa or your favorite uncle, in whatever way best shows your appreciation. In a special wine country toast to Dads, let us help you get a jump on that celebration planning for this year. Consider going for that hole in one, sip,swirl and catch some fantastic live music at the local wineries, bike for a cause, catch some live theater under the stars, and wind down with a seamless blend of sophisticated comfort and relaxation at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Check out these great Santa Ynez Valley events for Dad and show him how important he really is to you and your family.
All Things Golf
The River Course at the Alisal in Solvang offers breathtaking panoramas of the serene foothills, the meandering Santa Ynez River and four lakes surrounding the course. Gentle mounds of bentgrass greens define the manicured fairways, magnificently accented by mature live oaks, native sycamores and elderberry trees.
Robert Scarpati, PGA Member at the River Course, describes the magnificent course as “extremely playable for all levels.”
The La Pruisima Golf Course, in Lompoc, is a superior 18-hole Championship design by world-renowned architect Robert Muir Graves. Welcoming golfers of all abilities to come play and test their game here, from PGA pros, celebrities, amateur hopefuls, low handicappers, or just those who enjoy the game. Thousands of golfers visit each year calling it “One of America’s Best Designed Courses…” Known as a challenging test of skill and character, La Purisima rewards the bold and leaves the recently-hooked newcomer loving the game even more. It is beautiful in its naturally undulating landscape, challenging in its hole designs, with tees never far from the preceding greens. La Purisima is a remarkably enjoyable walk, or a pleasant ride on power carts. It is truly the essence of playing golf in a natural environment.
Your Package will include:
Deluxe accommodations for two
Round of golf for two
Cart Rental and green fees
Sumptuous breakfast buffet for two featuring cooked to order omelettes at the Starting Gate Restaurant. Contact our Reservations Department at (800) 638-8882.
While you test our the course at River Course at the Alisal, keep in mind the Santa Ynez Valley Marirott will be hosting the First Annual “Miracles Happen” Charity Golf Tournament, Friday, October 4, 2013 on those amazing greens.
Proceeds from the tournament will benefit two amazing charities. The first is Children’s Miracle Network, funding 170 hospitals that work to save the lives of kids in your community. In fact, 62 children enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for treatment every minute – that’s one child every second. People Helping People Children’s Health Services in the Santa Ynez Valley, Lompoc and Los Alamos is the second of the two charities. It is dedicated to improving the lives by addressing emergency and basic needs and furnishing comprehensive integrated family and individual support services.
The Miracles Happen Tournament will be played as a Texas Scramble with 4-player teams. Over $2,000* in total cash prizes will be distributed with classic tournament fun including longest drive, closest to the pin, putting contests and more being played throughout the day. Registration includes golf, barbecue lunch and raffle ticket for prize drawings.Click here for team and individual registration forms. For organizations and individuals who would like to increase their exposure and support of these deserving organizations, sponsorship opportunities are still open. Contact the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott sales team today for more information regarding tee and corporate sponsorship level availability at 805-325-202. Generous sponsorships to date include the Rabobank Corporation and Jim Vreeland Ford of Buelton.
Live Theater under the Stars
In the quintessential story for Father’s Day, treat dad to an outdoor live theater presentation of Fiddler on the Roof. Solvang Theaterfest, a community based non-profit organization, is proudly presenting the story of Tevye, his dairy cart, his wife and five daughters. As the sun rises and sets on his beloved Russian town, he dreams of a better future for his family. In the face of Czarist incursions, his world is changing. Fast. Each daughter makes her marriage match as Tevye stands poised in the precarious balance between tradition and life’s great unknowns. With melodies descending from the rooftops, we’ll discover that ‘wherever you love is home.’ For information and tickets call PCPA at (805) 922-8313 or check online.
Cycling for a Cause
The Wine Country Bike Trek, June 14-16, is the annual fundraising bike ride event that allows participants to choose from a 30 or 50 mile route each day that leads them through the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and covers both flat terrain and rolling hills, and past regionally and nationally recognized wineries and ranches. This is a go-at-your-own pace, fully-supported ride for cyclists of all levels of experience, with free safety checks, well-marked routes, roving support vehicles, and fully catered food and rest (SAG) stops every 10 miles. For the truly adventurous types, camping is offered for two nights in Los Olivos, in which rider’s camp gear is delivered to the campsite and there is a complimentary continental breakfast each day, tee shirts, swag bags, live music and dancing each night. Trattoria Grappolo will be serving delectable Italian fare on Friday and the Kiwanis Club of the South Coast will be contributing and serving the Victory Celebration feast featuring BBQ chicken, tri-tip, and vegetarian options – a donation they have made for 30 years, on Saturday. There is even an event farewell luncheon BBQ on Sunday prepared by the Buellton Rotary Club at Hans Christian Anderson Park. Dad’s bring your family! Children are welcome; under 8 are free.The Spirit of the Wine Country Bike Trek is community, family, and friends.It’s about taking what you thought you knew about yourself and the world and looking at it again, from a new perspective—a perspective where, suddenly, what you thought were only hopes or ideals are real. You may doubt that 150 people will be able to make a difference in the lives of those in need but they will. This is a fundraising event for People Helping People and while fundraising is not required, it is an option. Fundraising efforts will be rewarded with a variety of great prizes and those who qualify for the “Winner’s Circle” will be honored guests at a luncheon celebration in August, a fun reunion for all. Registration is now open.
Money raised from the Wine Country Bike Trek will help support People Helping People’s emergency and basic needs programs, including a Food Program, which provides groceries to over 1,300 people bi-weekly, health care access for adults and children that are underinsured and uninsured, and programs such as counseling for children and teens and an after school youth program. People Helping People has a vision that all men, women and children in the Santa Ynez Valley community have the opportunity to access necessary resources to achieve self-sufficiency with dignity and are able to fulfill their potential.
June 14, 6-9pm, Burning James and the Funky Flames is the feature band at this FREE vineyard concert. Join the fun with great live music, local food and fabulous wine for purchase. The tasting room will offer wine specials all night long and Big Tom’s Backyard BBQ will be on site offering your favorites hot off the grill so come celebrate music in the wine country.
Fantastic Father’s Day Accommodations
Whether its simply you and dad or the entire family including your family pup, just for a night or an extended getaway…celebrate Father’s Day and book your stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Located in the heart of of the Santa Ynez Valley, it’s the perfect destination to make sure this Father’s Day is a memorable one. Relax in our outdoor heated pool, savor delicious, innovative cuisine made with local produce and house-made ingredients and sample from a world-class selection of wines from local vintners at our Starting Gate Restaurant. Why not treat Dad to the Father’s Day he deserves!
The Santa Ynez Valley Tasting Trifecta: Wine, Craft Beer…and Olive Oil
Chances are, most Santa Ynez Valley visitors have delighted in the offerings of regional world class vintages and brews from local wineries and craft breweries, yet there is another fascinating tasting adventure that affords your taste buds a reason to celebrate in the valley. Olive oil! Like wine and craft beer, this magnificent treasure comes in a wide and distinctive range of varieties and flavors. So also parallel to wine and craft beer, a true tasting experience is indispensable in order to fully understand and appreciate it.
Ready for a little Olive Oil 101…
Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Known in American kitchens as EVOO, extra virgin is an internationally recognized standard that designates the highest quality olive oil. It is produced by cold pressing, a process that extracts the oil without chemicals or excessive heat. The oil must pass rigid standards and taste specifications as determined by a certified tasting panel. Extra virgin olive oil is not filtered (which often in mass produced oils, introduces chemicals to the product). Although filtering does extend the shelf life by removing any actual bits of olive, which will ferment and cause the oil to spoil, it also diminishes the flavor in doing so. With that in mind, extra virgin olive oil is allowed to ‘rest’ in air-tight, steel tanks for a couple of months after crushing to allow some of the fruit particles and remaining water to settle to the bottom of the tanks and let the oil’s flavor mellow and stabilize. The oil is then taken from the top of the tank throughout the year ensuring a fresh supply of oil for bottling. A few producers bottle a small portion of their new oil directly from the mill after pressing. This olio nuovo or new oil is available only in late November through the early part of Winter and is often accompanied by a seasonal celebration at the mill. It is the freshest and finest extra virgin olive oil available – brilliant green and the essence of olive oil goodness!
The typical “extra virgin” olive oil you find in the supermarket today is an industrial product that has been heavily processed and is often labeled strictly for marketing rather that actual content. Since there is no real label enforcement through the USDA or FDA, it is helpful to be educated in label decoding. California, though, does adhere to an Extra Virgin Certification program that ensures quality. Bottles that are marked with the‘COOC’ seal are guaranteed certified.
What makes Olive Oils taste differently?
Four main factors account for the variety of flavors:
type of olives – borrowing from wine tasting 101: varietals of olives offer distinctive flavors. Producers can make their oil from single variety of olive, or a blend to create interesting and unique flavor combinations.
ripeness of olives – early harvested green olives tend to have ‘grassier’ flavors, while the later harvested darker olives tend to have ‘buttery’ ones. Additionally, a shorter gap between harvest and processing will produce a fresher, stronger oil. Olives harvested late, in January or even February, will produce a darker, milder oil.
growing and harvesting conditions – climate, soil and harvesting techniques all impact olive oil flavor. Many producers pick their olives by hand to avoid bruising. The olives are then pressed within 24 hours of being picked because like all fruit, they will begin to ferment, which will lessen the quality.
oil storage – exposure to heat, light, and oxygen can also impact olive oil taste. Light is very damaging to olive oil, as is heat; so unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. It starts out most pungent, and then softens over time, until it finally turns. Your best bet is to keep your oil in a cool, dark place.
Which brings us to taste. Ranges vary from delicate and buttery, to fragrant and fruity, to olive-y and peppery, or leafy green and grassy. With this in mind, the logical place for an olive oil education to unfold is with tasting. All the reading in the world isn’t going to mean a thing unless you can connect it to the sensory experience—the aroma and taste of olive oil. The Santa Ynez Valley is host to a distinctive array of hand pressed olive oil farms, making it the ideal location to taste, learn, gather recipe ideas and explore the health benefits of this ‘other’ Santa Ynez Valley fruit. Check out the olive oil experiences the valley has to offer:
Santa Ynez Valley’s charming town of Los Olivos is hosting its Annual Jazz & Olive Festival, Saturday, June 8, at Lavinia Campbell Park from 1-4pm. Enjoy all things olive paired with world class, professional jazz, fine wine tasting from 20 local wineries, vendor booths from over 10 regional olive oil producers, professional chefs cooking demonstrations, an amateur cook-off, great home-made food and the ambiance of one of the most charming small towns in America. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Olivos and benefiting local charities, the festival celebrates the growing contributions of the Santa Ynez Valley’s olive producers. Rumor is that this event ALWAYS sells out…so don’t miss out! Tickets include a free souvenir wine glass and plate, and are available for $50 each, from local Rotarians, at the Book Loft in Solvang, Coghlan Vineyard & Jewelers, the General Store in Los Olivos, Lucas & Lewellen Tasting Room in Solvang and Pea Soup Andersons’s in Buellton, by calling 805-325-9280, or on-line. Tickets can be held for you at Will Call or mailed to you if you order early enough.
The local Olive Oil community in the Santa Ynez Valley is abundant. Some of the offerings include:
Olive Hill Farm – Employing certified organic farming techniques as well as the solar power, Olive Hill Farm takes pride in producingsome of the finest olive oils available as well as balsamic vinegars, wine vinegars, truffle oils, table olives, and other gourmet food products.
Rancho Olivos – Sustainably growing olive trees which produce their award winning handcrafted gourmet olive oils.
Global Gardens – featuring olive oil from some of the most renowned groves on the planet, including countless Gold Medal Winners, Global Gardens also offers home-made fruit balsamic vinegars, organic mustards, organic snacks and other local California food items made in their kitchens.
For a memorable getaway, consider arriving early to visit the Los Olivos art galleries and shops, and tour the Santa Ynez Valley’s beautiful rolling hills,horse ranches, and vineyards. The Annual Summer Wine Pass Event is just kicking off and is the only ticket you’ll need this summer to enjoy fabulous wine tasting at the premier boutique wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley. Learn the ropes, tips for tasting and while in the Valley take advantage of an excellent opportunity…
The pass (available online for $40 and on-site for $45), includes one wine tasting flight (usually 4-5 wines) at each of the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association participating tasting rooms (a $130 value). You choose the dates anytime between May 1 and August 31. There are no reservations required and no blackout dates. Your pass will expire when you’ve tasted at all 13 wineries or on August 31, 2013 – whichever occurs first.
Make it a true custom getaway and book your stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Enjoy the unspoiled, relaxing charm of the valley and all it has to offer. The Los Olivos Olive & Jazz Festival as well as the Summer Wine Pass are just two of the many adventures waiting for you in the unforgettable Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the Starting Gate Restaurant, on-site at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, for cooked to order wood-fired pizza on the patio made with fresh, local ingredients,house-made dough and sauce on Wednesdays and Fridays, 5-8pm. Pair with a wide variety of local vintages and craft brews for a memorable summer evening meal.
In what is proving to be a glorious time in history for beer enthusiasts everywhere…tap real estate is booming! With well over 1,600 craft breweries throughout the U.S., California’s Santa Ynez Valley is taking this opportunity to foster the craft beer spirit and is expanding its annual celebration of craft beer from one week to the entire month of May. It is officially Craft Beer Month in the Santa Ynez Valley and to kick-off the festivities, we have a gathered a bit of insight into this brewing revolution.
Why Craft Beer? Flavor.
It is all about having a broad spectrum of flavors and choices. Something the wine industry has forever been exploring and that the Santa Ynez Valley knows so very well, now affords beer drinkers the same palate pleasing opportunities.
A few basics for those who may not be familiar:
Craft beer is made by small, independent brewers. This allows fresh, high quality, and carefully chosen ingredients to be used. Often interesting and non-traditional ingredients are also added for a spin on the ordinary. These elements, combined with the heart and soul of the brewmaster, produce innovative and delicious choices for everyone’s tastes.
Craft beer is often brewed and transformed by seasonal availability and therefore differs by region. Unique styles and seasonal ingredients pair for an infinite combination of brews.
Craft Beer is just that…truly a craft. Beer that is as innovative, diverse and individually unique and surprising as the brewers themselves.
Basic Styles of Craft Beer:
Lagers: made with yeasts that prefer lower temps when fermenting and tend to be smoother and mellower than ales.
Ales: quite the opposite, prefer warmer processing temps, which typically translates into more of a flavor impact. These usually involve a higher alcohol content and many more varieties than lagers.
Specific Styles of Craft Beer: although too many to list, here are the main players:
Wheat beer (Weizens) are often cloudy in appearance and the flavor ranges greatly. Typically lighter in flavor, some may be considered ‘spicy’ and reminiscent of European styles.
Brown Ale: Typically a darker amber color, it is a very old style beer and is said to be earthy and less bitter in flavor.
Pale ale is one of the world’s most popular beer styles. The aroma and flavor of hops is definite yet balanced with malt. Marked by the often times citrusy character of American hops.
India Pale Ale (IPA): Dating back to the time when English troops needed to preserve the life of their beer traveling on their voyages to India, extra hops were added as a natural preservative thus producing the slightly bitter (read hoppy) and crisp flavor profile.
Double IPAs or Imperial IPAs. Multiply the amount of hops and added malt for balance and the result is a fairly intense and bold hoppy giant.
Stouts are made with black, unmalted barley which results in a heavily roasted flavor and thick head. Little hop flavor but often with hints of coffee, chocolate, licorice, and molasses.
Pilsners are relatively young style beer with crisp, strong varying hop flavor and fragrant.
Craft Beer Month in Santa Ynez Valley features more beer events than even the most seasoned craft beer lover can imagine! Click here for full event details. Some of the highlights not to be missed include:
Americana meets Craft Beer! Fast cars, neon lights, hamburgers & shakes, and Surf Rock at the Friday Night Beer Dinner, May10. Chances are you have never paired your beer with a milkshake..but they will show you how! The Buellton Beer Fest is partnering with BIN 2860 and the iconic Mendenhall Musuem guaranteed to make this a dinner like no other! $75 (tickets are extremely limited).
Craft Beer Education – For those thirsty to learn all about craft beer, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is offering a Beer Class with FMB Brew Master, AJ Stoll. Valley Brewers is featuring both a Yeast Starter Class, and a Free Cheese demo, where you will learn how to make cheese fondue; a great food pairing with beer! The Wandering Dog Wine Bar is hosting Friday night Beer Classes, an Ales vs. Lagers Class, a Beer Styles Class, and a High-End Specialty Brews event. Bin 2860 will be hosting beer-themed classes with topics ranging from ales vs. lagers to sour beers to yeast classes as well as brewing demos.
With the entire month of May devoted to Craft Beer, make it a midweek rendezvous or even a relaxing weekend getaway. Book your stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, making it your home-base for all the local craft beer festivities. Take advantage of our featured $20.13 dinner entrees carefully paired with fabulous craft beer selections at the Starting Gate Restaurant. Our Winner’s Circle Lounge is proud to be a featured stop on the Craft Beer Passport event and is featuring 15% discount on food & offering beer flights. The fabulous local beer selections include:
Looking for a memorable way to celebrate Mother’s Day? How about a relaxing getaway nestled in the enchanting, rolling hills of Santa Ynez Valley’s wine country. It’s the stuff mothers’ dreams are made of…Solvang’s Danish bakeries with made-from-scratch pastries, gourmet restaurants featuring fresh local ingredients and inspired cuisine, unique shopping and art galleries…all paired with world-class yet unpretentious wine tasting. A seamless blend of sophisticated style and unhurried, small town charm is the ideal escape for the mother in your life this May.
Check out our Santa Ynez Valley Mother’s Day ideas sure to make it a special occasion:
Wednesdays 2:30-6:30pm visit Solvang Village Farmer’s Market where local chefs routinely peruse the availability of fresh ingredients for inspiration and tonight’s menu offerings! Featuring fresh produce and flowers, culinary treats and much more.
Continue the Wednesday adventure with Solvang’s Third Wednesday Wine Walk kicking off May 15. Stroll through the Village of Solvang from 3-7pm and take advantage of the many wine tasting rooms offering special discounts. Tickets are $20 and include a Solvang Third Wednesday logo glass, map and tasting at 5 places of your choice.
Wandering Dog Wine Bar presents Styles of Beer, Friday, May 10 from 6-7pm. This is an exciting opportunity to learn about various styles of beer while sipping and discussing in a relaxed and wonderful venue. Class includes 6 beers along with light cheese and crackers for $20. Please call 805.686.9126 to make reservations.
**Although individual registration it is sold out…
Consider contacting the race’s Charity Partners: ASPCA, MMRF, and Lazarex Cancer Foundation Charities & Fundraising. Be a part of a special kind of cause by joining TeamASPCA or one of the other teams in the Wine Country Half Marathon. Click on the link to learn how you can walk or run to help save the lives of millions of animals (and enjoy some great wine!): Team ASPCA
Finishers Party at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards Saturday May 11 2-5pm is another fabulous way to celebrate the marathon and unwind with friends & family. Relax in the sunshine, out on the lawn at Fess Parker Winery, rimmed by mature oaks, and enjoy a Santa Maria style BBQ, two glasses of fabulous wine (of course!) and live music.
GSM Blending Event at Zaca Mesa Winery – Come spend the afternoon on May 11, 10-1pm, with the talented winemaker, Eric Mohseni! He will instruct you on the art of blending the red Rhone varietals. From barrels to bottle you will have the chance to create your own Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah blend, done to your taste! Everyone will get to take home a bottle of their own wine to show off with family and friends. Lunch with the winemaker will be included: A gourmet picnic provided by Fresco Valley Cafe.
Celebrate the wonderful mother in your life with a day of wine tasting at Cimarone Wines in Los Olivos. Featuring free tastings Saturday May 11, join Cimarone and relax – you deserve it!
Join Kalyra Winery in their Summer Movie Night Annual Kickoff featuring: BOTTLE SHOCK, Saturday May 11 5-9pm, on the big screen at Kalyra’s outdoor amphitheater. Admission is free to this fabulous outdoor movie adventure.They’ve wanted to show this fantastic flick since last year. Every wine enthusiast NEEDS to see it. It’s the true story of how California wines, starting in Napa, got put on the world map when Napa was a dusty hippy town in the 70’s. Arrive early to stake out your place on the grass (first-come/first-serve), and enjoy food, wines by the glass, music on the patio, and beautiful wine country sunsets prior to the movie. Bring your own blankets and chairs. No RSVP necessary!
Sunstone Winery’s Special Event: A Mother’s Blend is an exclusive Mother’s Day Wine Blending Experience May 12, 10:30-12 noon. Celebrate Mom with Sunstone at their intimate wine blending experience on the grounds of the majestic Sunstone Villa. Guests will start the morning with a gourmet selection of pastries, charcuterie, and mimosas while enjoying the Villa and sweeping views of the Santa Ynez Valley. After a glimpse into the origins, history, and traditional use of each grape varietal, Moms and guests will work together and create their own distinctive Bordeux blend to take home in a beautifully wax sealed bottle. Additional bottles of your custom blend will be available to purchase and take home as the perfect momento of the day. Unable to spend Mother’s Day with your Mom? Why not create the perfect blend and send the gift her way.
Honor the mother in your life with a Mother’s Day getaway and book your stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott today. It is the picture perfect escape that is sure to make mom feel appreciated…luxurious linens,relax by the pool, work on your forehand at the on-site tennis courts and a fabulous Mother’s Day Brunch. When the mood strikes, venture forth and explore everything the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer, from over 141 wineries to the scenic streets of Solvang. It’s a fabulous opportunity to renew her spirit in the serenity and beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley.