Drunk on Love: Honeymooners Stomp through the Santa Barbara Vineyards

An Intoxicating Exploration of the Santa Ynez Valley
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Bad weather led me to the Santa Barbara wine country. My new husband and I had not planned to stay in California longer than the length of our layover, but after spending the better part of our honeymoon in the South Pacific—then hearing news of an approaching cyclone—we spontaneously decided to transform our West Coast layover into a few days of heady exploration of the Golden State before resigning ourselves to real life back in Washington, D.C. Not only would we evade the impending storm, we'd also get a taste of the left coast we rarely have a chance to visit.

And a taste is what we got—literally. A sip of Chardonnay, a few swallows of Syrah, a glassful of Cabernet. A bit of research at a bookstore near the Los Angeles airport led us to a bed and breakfast in Santa Barbara and a day trip through the wine country.
Santa Barbara may be the an unlikely locale for tripping through California wine country—most opt for the more popular Napa Valley to the north—but we found the vintage offerings of the Santa Ynez Valley a must-taste for wine lovers. And the journey through the rugged-yet-rolling beauty of the region ain't too shabby either. Although there are a few wineries in Santa Barbara, we opted to follow the Pacific Coast Highway to take advantage of the ocean views—and the cute convertible we rented. The drive through the Santa Ynez Mountains and into the valley offers vistas of classic California topography—lime-colored hillsides strewn with oak and pine trees gracefully rising and dipping inland from the Pacific.

This terrain, along with the unique east-west traverse of the mountain range, makes the region such a viticultural center. The traverse funnels fog and cool ocean air into the valley, creating microclimates ideal for harvesting grapes. (That's not something I know from my wine connoisseur days. The folks at the wineries are as happy to answer questions as they are to get you buzzed enough to make big purchases. You think viticultural is part of my everyday vocabulary? By the way, it means an area is good for growing grapes.)

Published: 19 Jul 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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