The Vineyards of Santa Ynez

Right after I moved to Santa Barbara, I went on an afternoon trip over the San Marcos Pass... and to the Santa Ynez Valley. I knew a little bit about the vineyards in the area, but had not ventured out there for several years. At the time, I had a rental car, no map, and my phone had just died. Therefore, I thought I would wander around and see what I could find. During that trip, I stumbled upon three vineyards that are still amongst my favorites in the region: Bridlewood, Brander, and Beckmen (just realized that they all begin with the letter 'B').

Bridlewood: Delicious Syrah wines and beautiful grounds. The property was once home to an Arabian horse farm and an equestrian rehabilitation center. The design of the winery pays homage to California's historic missions, with a Spanish-style bell tower, breezy verandas and a fountain surrounded by a stone courtyard.

Brander: Probably best known for their Sauvignon Blanc, they also have some fantastic reds. My favorites are the Cabernet Reserve, Bouchet (blend), and F-Red (Cabernet Franc). The tasting room is a bit cozier that the vineyards in the area, but the great wine and friendly service keeps me coming back.

Beckmen: Specializes in estate-grown Rhone Varietals. This vineyard is tucked away from the main road (not quite sure how I found it)... and the grapes are grown on a 365 acre ranch called Purisima Mountain Vineyard. It is an incredibly beautiful landscape.

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