Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks Jan. 27-Feb. 10

Root 246's Creekstone Ranch Burger is one of the specials on the menu at Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Root 246’s Creekstone Ranch Burger is one of the specials on the menu at Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

The Santa Ynez Valley has so many great restaurants, and the upcoming annual foodie celebration is the perfect time to check out a new one or revisit and old favorite.

Part of Visit California’s California Restaurant Month, this year’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks feature three-course meal deals—all $20.19—at a record 32 restaurants in the six Santa Ynez Valley towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang.

Why is it two weeks long?

“We continually heard from local restaurants and from diners that the only way to improve Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is to offer more of it,” says Shelby Sim, President/CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The event has been successful from year one, expanding well beyond what can be fit into just one week. It is exciting to continue to see it grow.”

Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, 32 restaurants will participate in Restaurant Weeks in 2019. In addition to the offerings of the Valley’s restaurants, many Santa Ynez Valley wineries will offer wine and small bite pairings in their tasting rooms for $20.19. And special lodging deals are available at hotels throughout the Valley.

“Santa Ynez Valley’s food scene is rapidly evolving in terms of both quality and quantity; it’s even challenging the region’s reputation for world-class wines. Our restaurants these days—rule,” says Sim. 

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus shine with farm-fresh examples of wine country’s seasonal bounty, with tasting menus crafted by celebrated chefs. Exemplary, and locavore, Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks dishes include S.Y. Kitchen executive chef Luca Crestanelli’s “Bird’s Nest Lasagna” (with fontina cheese, roasted butternut squash, chanterelle mushrooms), his “Fried Sous Vide Organic Egg” (with cheese fondue and chicory), and his “Saffron Gnocchetti (with butter and sage, optional bone marrow, raspadura cheese). At The Bear and Star in Los Olivos, chef/partner John Cox’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus include the likes of his “Wagyu Empanada” (with black beans and Cotija cheese), utilizing proteins pulled from nearby Fess Parker Ranch.

In Solvang, new chef de cuisine at Root 246, Crystal “Chef Pink” DeLongpré, puts her locally- and sustainably-sourced, TV chef touches on an “American Lamb Burger” (Bellwether Farms Jersey ricotta, house-pickled mustard seed, smoky tomato jam, served with fries or Chef Pink’s famous Brussels sprouts), which is destined for the eatery and lounge’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menu.

Norman, courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Norman, courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The food-centric hotspot of Los Alamos will boast chef and restaurant participants like the town’s culinary founders, chef Jesper Johansson of Plenty on Bell and chef Clark Staub at his Full of Life Flatbread enterprise; chef Drew Terp of PICO fame; chef Conrad Gonzales’ Valle Fresh; and Norman restaurant and bar, the dining and drinking component at mid-century motor lodge marvel, Skyview Los Alamos.

At Buellton’s pioneering Santa Ynez Valley food-scape player, Industrial Eats, chef/owners Jeff and Janet Olsson will celebrate the foods of—with 100% of proceeds benefitting—the People of Yemen. Yemeni dishes will comprise the bistro’s Restaurant Weeks menu, with specialties like Shourba Bilsen (lamb broth lentil soup with coriander), Hor’ee (braised beef shank with basmati rice), and Bint Al-Sahn (dough cake with honey).

Dates of participation vary by establishment, but the list of participating restaurants, wineries, and lodging properties includes:

Ballard

The Ballard Inn & Gathering Table, 2436 Baseline Ave., 800/638-2466

Buellton

Campfire Café at Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, 180 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, 805/688-3716

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.,45 Industrial Way, 805/694-2252

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 620 McMurray Rd., 805/697-4777

Hitching Post II, 406 E Hwy 246, 805/688-0676

Industrial Eats, 181 Industrial Way, 805/688-8807

La Tequila Mexican Restaurant, 35 W. Highway 26, 805/697-7776

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, 555 McMurray Road, 805/688-1000

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Los Alamos

Full of Life Flatbread, 225 Bell St., 805/344-4400

Norman, 9150 US Highway 101, 805/344-0080

Pico at The Los Alamos General Store, 458 Bell St., 805/344-1122

Plenty on Bell, 508 Bell St., 805/344-3020

Valle Fresh, 380 Bell St., 805/865-2282

Los Olivos

The Bear & Star, 2860 Grand Ave, 805/686-1359

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 2879 Grand Ave., 805/688-7265

Santa Ynez

The Lucky Hen Larder, 1095 Meadowvale Rd., 805/691-9448

S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., 805/691-9794

Trattoria Grappolo, 3687 Sagunto St., 805/688-6899

Willows Restaurant & Bar, 3400 E. Highway 246, 805/686-0855

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Solvang

Cecco Ristorante, 475 1st St., 805/688-8880

First & Oak, 409 1st St., 805/688-1703

Fresco Valley Café, 442 Atterdag Rd., 805/688-8857

Hill Haven Provisions, 448 Atterdag Rd., 805/691-9025

Hummingbird Restaurant, 453 Atterdag Rd., 805/403-7100

Leonardo’s Ristorante, 632 Alamo Pintado Rd., 805/686-0846

Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant & Take Out, 1992 Old Mission Dr., 805/693-2994

Mad & Vin at The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

River Grill at The Alisal, 150 Alisal Rd., 805/688-7784

Root 246, 420 Alisal Rd., 805/686-8681

Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Dr., 805/688-2337

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie, 1555 Mission Dr., 805/691-9444

Toscana Pizzeria, 485 Alisal Road #163, 805/697-7445

Alma Rosa’s eco-chic tasting room in Buellton, built by Allen Construction, incorporates a 15-foot olive tree, local river stone and recycled Douglas Fir. Photo by Patrick Price.

Alma Rosa’s eco-chic tasting room in Buellton, built by Allen Construction, incorporates a 15-foot olive tree, local river stone and recycled Douglas Fir. Photo by Patrick Price.

Wineries

Alma Rosa Winery, 181-C Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-9395

Hitching Post Wines, 420 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-0676

Kalyra Winery, 343 N Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/693-8864

Loring Wine Company, 201-B Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-1300

Pence Vineyards & Winery, 1909 W. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/735-7000

Roblar Winery & Vineyards, 3010 Roblar Ave., Santa Ynez, 805/686-2603

Sunstone Winery, 125 N. Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/688-9463

 

Lodging

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, 180 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, 805/688-3716

Hampton Inn & Suites Buellton/Santa Ynez Valley, 600 McMurray Rd., Buellton, 805/686-1555

King Frederik Inn, 1617 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, 805/688-5515

The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

New Haven Inn, 271 Alisal Rd., Solvang, 805/618-8541

Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn, 51 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 800/732-7687

Santa Ynez Inn, 3627 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-5588

Sideways Inn, 114 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-8448

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week menus do not include tax, tip, or beverages, and reservations are strongly encouraged. For the latest updates, including menus and dining hours, visit www.DineSYV.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 24, 2019.

Retro-Chic Revival at the Skyview Los Alamos 

The Skyview Courtyard was a former asphalt car park before being remodeled into a gathering spot featuring fire pits and native gardens. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The Skyview Courtyard was a former asphalt car park before being
remodeled into a gathering spot featuring fire pits and native gardens. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

By Leslie Dinaberg

On the hilltop overlooking the quaint western town of Los Alamos sits a midcentury modern gem of a new hotel—the Skyview Los Alamos. This boutique, 33-room property—including two spacious suites and 16 deluxe rooms with private decks with outdoor showers and fire pits—opened last spring, somehow managing to maintain the historic 1950’s motel vibe, while infusing it with equal helpings of modern conveniences and hipster coolness.

“We were inspired by the western roots of Los Alamos, the midcentury architecture of the motel, and our love of travel,” explains Kimberly Walker, managing partner and co-owner of Skyview Los Alamos.

“Skyview was built in 1959 and changed hands quite a few times over the years,” says Walker. “At one point, locals used to be able to swim in the pool for 25 cents! We’ve heard many people say the Beatles stayed in room 33 at some point.”

The Midcentury golden starbust door welcomes visitors to Norman, the excellent onsite restaurant. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The Midcentury golden starbust door welcomes visitors to Norman, the excellent onsite restaurant. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Like many others (myself included), Walker had driven past the motel for years and wondered what it was. “We always saw the motel sign going, ‘oh, what is that on the hill?’ But we fell in love with Los Alamos, the food, the wine and the people. When the motel went up for sale, we moved on it quickly. We purchased the property in 2016 and spent two years renovating the motel, sprucing up the grounds, updating the design and restoring its midcentury architecture. We also turned the former asphalt car park into communal native gardens with fire pits to create space for guests to relax and gather,” she explains.

The attention to detail is incredible. Guests are greeted with a cup of locally sourced Dart Coffee or a glass of local wine (and soon the 2.5-acre onsite Skyview Vineyards will yield their own Pinot Noir, overseen by winemaker Mikey Guigni of Scar of the Sea Wines).

Each room’s carefully crafted decor reflects both the location’s western heritage and modern luxury elements. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Each room’s carefully crafted decor reflects both the location’s western heritage and modern luxury elements. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Each room is its own bespoke design, with thoughtfully sourced and unique décor, including flat panel televisions, down duvets, leather club chairs and marble-clad bathrooms with hand-painted tiles and farm sinks, as well as luxury amenities such as locally made Fable Soap products in the bathroom and Abba-Zabba candy, Good Zebra munchies and Casamigos Tequila in the mini-bar.

“We completely designed the property ourselves,” says Walker. “My partner, Mike Kyle, oversaw the architectural design and I oversaw the interior design. This is our second project together as a design team—the first was Granada Hotel & Bistro in San Luis Obispo. As with the property in SLO, we let the building’s location and heritage guide the process. We’re proud and excited to have brought it back to its 1950’s glory.”

Another peek at the room's interior, with elements of both the location’s western heritage and modern luxuries. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Another peek at the room’s interior, with elements of both the location’s western heritage and modern luxuries. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

A large part of that glory is the restoration of the original 1950’s era pool, with the iconic neon “Motel” sign casting its glow over water that changes color from green to silver to purple and two shades of blue, with the help of an app. The ownership group, known as Nomada Hotel Group, took care to retain many of the motel’s original elements, like the quirky cactus columns in the porte-cochere, and the actual room keys instead of key cards. A fleet of Linus bikes offers a nostalgic way to explore the downtown area of Los Alamos—which is rapidly becoming a haven for foodies—as well as the surrounding wineries
and vineyards.

A restored vision of the iconic 1950s era pool and neon sign. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

A restored vision of the iconic 1950s era pool and neon sign. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Forest green doors with a midcentury golden starburst beckon guests to pay a visit to Norman—the excellent full-service bar and restaurant named with a wink to Psycho’s Norman Bates. Norman is well worth the drive on its own, and serves local wines, herb-infused cocktails and farm-fresh fare (think shareable plates and lots of salads, fish and house-smoked meats) both poolside and in the retro-chic reinvented dining room.

The dog-friendly property is a great spot for a romantic getaway but would also be a fun place to gather with a group of friends for a special occasion or just a weekend hangout.

SKYVIEW LOS ALAMOS, 9150 US-101, LOS ALAMOS,

805/344-0104, SKYVIEWLOSALAMOS.COM.

Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Pebble Beach 
Takes Luxury to New Levels

A breathtaking view of Pebble Beach Golf Links, photo by Johann Dost.

A breathtaking view of Pebble Beach Golf Links, photo by Johann Dost.

As you step onto the greens, the beauty and drama of Pebble Beach simply takes your breath away. The fabled course celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019 by hosting the U.S. Open Championships for the sixth time, and in preparation for the centennial milestone they’ve done loads of improvements and restorations on an already prime vacation destination.

An aerial of The Lodge at 
Pebble Beach and the 18th hole, circa 1920s. Photo courtesy, Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

An aerial of The Lodge at 
Pebble Beach and the 18th hole, circa 1920s. Photo courtesy, Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

Ranked the #1 public course in America by Golf Digest Magazine along with a #1 rating among the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S.” by Golf Magazine, Pebble Beach Golf Links is certainly one of the greatest courses in the world, with a combination of coastal beauty, remarkable architecture and legendary golf history. Golf Digest Magazine describes the course as “not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes [#4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #17, #18] perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf.”

After missing the Crosby Pro-Am from 1947-1950, Bob Hope finally showed up 
to play in 1951. Bing Crosby decided he’d better catch the 
moment on film. Photo by J.P. Graham, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

After missing the Crosby Pro-Am from 1947-1950, Bob Hope finally showed up 
to play in 1951. Bing Crosby decided he’d better catch the 
moment on film. Photo by J.P. Graham, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

Clint Eastwood was paired with Ray Floyd in 
the Crosby Clambake in 
the late 1960s. Photo by W.C. Brooks, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

Clint Eastwood was paired with Ray Floyd in 
the Crosby Clambake in 
the late 1960s. Photo by W.C. Brooks, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

We recently got to stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach—in a gorgeous ocean view room overlooking the 18th hole—and indulged in the legendary guest experience that makes Pebble Beach so special. While golf is obviously King at Pebble Beach, for the non-golfers like me, the other elements are equally royal: starting with the absolutely stellar service. From the moment we rolled up to the door to check in—our road weary Honda taking its place of honor amongst the perfectly detailed BMWs and Teslas—we were treated with the type of gracious hospitality that every inn in the world should aspire to emulate. 

I never wanted to leave.

Our casually luxurious, coastally inspired room was comfortable yet completely lavish, with every amenity you could imagine—including full-size, top-of-the-line shampoo and conditioner, which I loved! The ocean-front patio was a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset, watch the whales spout, as if on cue, and toast to the decadence of this plum assignment.

Our room had been recently renovated to expand the window walls to maximize views of the course and the ocean and double the size of the patio and deck to serve as an outdoor living space, as well as new indoor furnishings and accessories, bathroom upgrades, a signature fireplace wall, air conditioning and technology upgrades including 55-inch HDTVs, new lighting, energy management systems and state-of-the-art door locks. The place may be 100 years old, but the rooms are up-to-date in every way imaginable.

Fairway One Cottage Room, photo by Sherman Chu.

Fairway One Cottage Room, photo by Sherman Chu.

Another recent addition is Fairway One, which added 30 oversized guest rooms and cottages fronting the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links and a new meeting facility, as well as a 2,500-square-foot meeting room. 

“The Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links are where our story began in 1919, and now, as we approach our 100th anniversary, the addition of Fairway One will help us continue that legacy for the next 100 years,” says Bill Perocchi, CEO of Pebble Beach Company. The new section includes two gorgeous four-bedroom cottages with 1,000-square-foot living rooms with 17-foot-high wood-beam ceilings, wood-burning floor-to-ceiling stacked stone fireplaces, two king bedrooms, two queen/queen bedrooms, and an outdoor terrace with fire pits, as well as full kitchens.

 

Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her first honeymoon at Pebble Beach in 1950 with Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. Photo courtesy Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her first honeymoon at Pebble Beach in 1950 with Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. Photo courtesy Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

What a perfect spot to make your home away from home. It’s almost enough to make you want to cook on vacation.

The other culinary options are also plentiful, with six restaurants onsite. Specializing in seafood, Stillwater Bar & Grill is an elegant destination for a relaxing dinner overlooking the fairways. The Tap Room serves a selection of American tavern-style classics, and The Terrace Lounge is a lovely spot to sit back and relax in one of the oversized armchairs while sipping on a cocktail and enjoying panoramic golf course views. Gallery Café offers home-style breakfast and lunch. For cove and ocean views, enjoy lunch at The Beach Club. The Bench is a casual spot overlooking the 18th hole, specializing in crafted cocktails and wood-roasted dishes, with a large central bar and patio tables with fire pits to warm your al fresco dining experience and roast marshmallows for símoreís.

If that’s not enough to entertain you, there’s a free shuttle service to sister property The Inn at Spanish Bay, offering another six dining options.

Guests are also provided complimentary access to The Beach & Tennis Club at Pebble Beach, a swanky venue near the renowned 17th hole, featuring tennis, workout facilities and a heated pool. Then there’s The Spa at Pebble Beach—one of only 56 spas in the world to receive the coveted Forbes Five-Star Award—offering an array of blissful body treatments that incorporate the healing properties of plants, herbs and minerals indigenous to the Monterey Peninsula.

The Spa at Pebble Beach, photo by Scott Campbell.

The Spa at Pebble Beach, photo by Scott Campbell.

Pebble Beach’s gorgeous 17-Mile Drive—one of the most scenic rides in the world, encompassing both stunning natural beauty and incredible architecture—is always one of the highlights of a visit to the area, and as guests of The Lodge at Pebble Beach we were able to do the drive in style, test driving a brand new Lexus sports car. 

Is it any wonder we didn’t want to leave? I may have to take up golf as an excuse to visit again soon.

For reservations or more information, call 800/654-9300 or visit pebblebeach.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: The Charms
 of Carmel

California Market

The glorious view from California Market at Pacific’s Edge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Courtesy photo.

The peaceful s
eas
ide charms
 of Carmel are an eas
y four-hour drive from Santa Barbara.

Where to Stay

Vendange Carmel Inn & Suites (24815 Carpenter St., Carmel, 831/624-6400, vendangecarmel.com) is
 a charming wine-themed inn with the homey vibe of a bed & breakfas
t. Jus
t minutes
 away from res
taurants
, s
hops
, galleries
 and tas
ting rooms
, this
 boutique inn’s
 intimate gardens
 offer a lovely s
etting to enjoy a glas
s
 of wine or a cozy cup of tea. We stayed in the delightful Twisted Roots room. Other partnered wineries
 and themed rooms
 include: Blair Estate Wines, Cima Collina WineryDawn’s Dream WineryGalante VineyardsHolman Ranch WinesJoullian Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & WinesManzoni CellarsMcIntyre VineyardsTudor Wines and Ventana Vineyards.

Nes
tled upon a s
cenic clifftop overlooking the s
tunning Big Sur coas
t and celebrating its
 100th annivers
ary in 2017, Hyatt Carmel Highlands (120 Highlands
 Dr., Carmel, 831/620-1234) offers
 spectacular views
 in an amazing s
etting. The legendary inn’s
 impeccable s
ervice was
 evident from the moment we arrived and were greeted with flutes
 of Pros
ecco to the umbrellas
 that magically appeared when raindrops
 s
tarted to threaten our departure. The gorgeous
 s
liding glas
s
 door views
 and wood-burning fireplace in our room made it hard to leave this
 relaxing, romantic getaway.

Where to Eat

At Whaling Station (763 Wave St., Monterey, 831/373-3778) in nearby Monterey, an old-s
chool s
teakhous
e with on-s
ite dry-age room, diners
 choos
e their own prime cuts
 of beef. As
 you s
elect your USDA Prime cut of aged beef from a s
ilver tray, then watch them s
lice Prime Rib from an antique s
ilver carving trolley, it’s
 eas
y to s
ee why Whaling Station has
 been voted the county’s
 #1 s
teakhous
e for 40 years
 in a row.

California Market at Pacific’s Edge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands
 (120 Highlands
 Dr., Carmel, 831/622-5450) has
 a newly remodeled 1,200-square-foot deck, featuring louvered roof and glas
s
-panel walls
 with dramatic views
 of the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur coas
t. The food is
 jus
t as
 impres
s
ive as
 the views
, and the extens
ive menu features
 the wares
 of local producers
 s
uch as
 Bellwether Farms
 Creamery in Sonoma, Swank Farms
 in Hollis
ter and Monterey Abalone Company in Monterey.

Twisted Roots Winery

Twisted Roots Winery in Carmel Valley offers a lovely tasting room in an art gallery setting.

Things to Do

Wine tasting in Carmel Valley is
 a great way to s
pend an afternoon, with 24 wineries
 and tas
ting rooms
 to choos
e from. Be s
ure to s
top and s
ay hello to Jos
h & Julie Ruiz of Twisted Roots Winery & Vineyard (located in Lyons
Head Art Gallery, 12 Del Fino Pl., Carmel Valley, 831/594-8282), whos
e warm hos
pitality at this
 family-owned tas
ting room is
 jus
t as
 delicious
 as
 their old-vine wines
. We als
o enjoyed s
ipping on the patio at Joyce Vineyards Tasting Room (1 E. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 831/659-2885). Golfers
 love Pebble Beach, and the famous
 17-Mile Drive is
 a s
cenic treat. Big Sur and Monterey Bay Aquarium are jus
t a s
hort drive away as
 well, offering more than enough entertainment for the entire family.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: A Grape Escape

Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Allegretto Vineyard Resort evokes an Italian Estate, with views overlooking grape vines and olive trees. Photo courtesy Allegretto.

With more than 40,000 vineyard acres
 and more than 200 wineries
 in the region, Pas
o Robles
 is
 a perfect weekend destination for a wine lover’s
 getaway.

By Les
lie Dinaberg

CAB is definitely king in Pas
o Robles
 wine country, and rich, velvety, complex cabernet s
auvignon makes
 up almos
t half of all the grapes
 grown acros
s
 Pas
o Robles
.

The offerings
 range from boutique wineries
 to high-production facilities
, and with s
ome as
s
is
tance from the Pas
o Robles
 CAB Collective, we did our bes
t to s
ample as
 many CABs
 as
 we could.

Ancient Peaks Margarita Vineyard, photo by Matt Wallace, courtesy Ancient Peaks.

Ancient Peaks Margarita Vineyard, photo by Matt Wallace, courtesy Ancient Peaks.

Where to Sip

Five dis
tinct s
oil types
 are the key to the unique wines
 of Ancient Peaks Winery, whos
e es
tate Margarita Vineyard is the only one in Santa Margarita Ranch AVA. Originally planted by the Robert Mondavi family, the current ranch owners
—the Filipponi, Ros
s
i and Witts
trom families
—took control of the vineyard in 2005. In addition to a charming tas
ting room and the delicious
 food at Ancient Peaks Café, the winery offers
 pers
onally guided vineyard tours
 Wed.-Sun. mornings, followed by a private tas
ting and chees
e and charcuterie (reservations
 required). ancientpeaks.com

Hope Family Wines has
 a dis
tinctive lounge-s
tyle tas
ting room pouring five unique labels
: Liberty School, Aus
tin Hope, Treana, Candor and Troublemaker. Try the big, intens
e Treana red, a clas
s
ic Pas
o Robles
 blend of cabernet, s
auvignon and s
yrah. hopefamilywines.com

By appointment only (and worth it) is
 a vis
it to Hoyt Family Vineyards, where you can bring a picnic and feed the goats
 and chickens
 as
 you s
ip on s
ome amazing wine. Try the sophisticated 2012 cabernet s
auvignon, which won Bes
t of Clas
s in the San Francisco Wine Chronicle. hoytfamilyvineyards.com

Another lovely s
pot to s
ip is Brecon Estate, a boutique s
us
tainably farmed es
tate winery producing an old-vine cabernet s
auvignon. Brecon’s
 award-winning s
mall batches
 of premium wines
 s
ell out quickly and cannot be purchas
ed anywhere els
e. breconestate.com

DAOU Vineyards, photo by Zak Klobucher.

DAOU Vineyards, photo by Zak Klobucher.

One of the lovelies
t views
, in a region that’s
 full of them, is DAOU Vineyards and Winery. Brothers
 Georges
 and Daniel Daou s
earched all around the s
tate to find an unrivaled terroir for producing cabernet sauvignon, a ques
t that eventually led them to the gorgeous
 DAOU Mountain in the Adelaida Dis
trict. Res
ervations
 are recommended to sip excellent wine while overlooking the vineyards
, with panoramic views
 from 2,200 feet. daouvineyards.com

Where to Eat

Opolo Winery offers
 pairings
 on the patio, as
 well as
 delicious
 homemade s
aus
age and charcuterie, pizzas
, s
alads
 and s
uch. Idyllic vineyard tours
 are als
o available, which include the tas
ting room, distillery, Inn at Opolo, a walnut orchard and more than 70 acres
 of vines
. opolo.com

Offering excellent wine-country cuis
ine in a beautiful s
etting, Cello Ristorante & Bar features
 creative but acces
s
ible dis
hes
 made from regionally farmed and foraged ingredients
, alongs
ide an extensive wine list. allegrettovineyardresort.com/dining

A long-s
tanding farm-to-table favorite, Thomas Hill Organics s
ources
 a wide variety of ingredients
 from local purveyors
 to offer a dynamic array of bold, imaginative dis
hes
. thomashillorganics.com

Where to Stay

Nes
tled among 20 acres
 that include wine grapes
 and olive and fruit trees
, the eclectically elegant Allegretto Vineyard Resort brings
 owner Doug Ayres
’ s
ingular vis
ion to life. The impres
s
ive property evokes
 an Italian vineyard es
tate, with 171 gues
t rooms
 and suites, a wine bar featuring the res
ort’s
 own private wine label, a s
pa, a pool and cabanas
, manicured gardens
, a beautiful Abbey, hundreds
 of antiques
, a 12,000-s
quare-foot piazza, and art and artifacts everywhere the eye can s
ee. Allegrettoresort.com

This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: The Oaks at Ojai

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Looking for a bit of spring cleaning for the mind, body and soul? The Oaks at Ojai (122 E. Ojai Ave.) is a great place to refresh and recharge your spirit any time of the year. I had a girlfriend getaway for a few days last fall and was pleasantly surprised and charmed at every turn.

Spring is an even better time to visit The Oaks, as April in Ojai brings special celebrations to honor the Pixie Tangerine, a special orange orb grown only in that area. In prior years, The Oaks’s guests have devoured more than 7,000 sweet, seedless Pixies during Pixie month. Expect to find special deals on tangerine tints and scents everywhere this time of year.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks is first and foremost a health spa, offering an all-inclusive healthy fitness and weight loss program with up to 15 optional fitness classes every day; hikes; three surprisingly tasty calorie-conscious meals per day, plus snacks and beverages; an on-site health advisor; evening activities and wellness lectures; and complete use of all resort facilities.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Other than spa treatments (which are included with some of the package deals), you won’t have to open your wallet for anything additional at The Oaks. Everything is included, which makes it a perfect time to try out new types of fitness classes. In just a couple of days, I was able to take classes in yoga, aqua cardio, Qigong, stretching, Zumba, aqua tone,Pilates and world grooves dance. Hiking, cardio/sculpting, balance, ballet/barre, dance Beliu and ball & band toning are also offered, along with other classes. There’s also a pool and a nicely outfitted weight room, for those who can’t get enough fitness!

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

The pampering side of the spa experience is also well done, with a nice steam room and sauna available, as well as any spa treatment your heart desires. I had an excellent Skin Authority Signature Facial, as well as a pedicure that lasted several weeks beyond my spa experience.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

The food was also surprising tasty. Quinoa was once a dirty word in our house, but after trying Chef Christine Denney’s clever incarnations, I’m hooked and have tried several ideas from her Recipes From the Heart cookbook. All in all, the 1,200- 1,500-calorie-per-day menu was balanced and tasty, inspired by an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein featuring wild fish and poultry, all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Sure, my friend and I brought in our own wine to reward ourselves at night after all of those exercise classes, but it wasn’t because we were actually hungry!

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

An active and inspiring presence at the resort is founder Sheila Cluff, an internationally known fitness expert who created cardiovascular dance in the 1950s, later known as “Aerobics,” and pioneered the concept of the modern destination spa in the 1970s. Now an 80-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, Cluff still leads some of the brisk morning walks and hikes at The Oaks and absolutely embodies the lifestyle she teaches.

Cluff has said that she created the retreat to fit the needs of women over 40, and we certainly make up the bulk of the clientele these days. That’s not to say that all ages (and men) are not welcome. The Oaks at Ojai is truly a great place for a girlfriend getaway, but the spa’s approach is casual and welcoming to all, as well as affordable and fun. Plus the charming 1920s Spanish Mission Revival-style hotel fits right in with the artsy laid-back vibe of the town and is right on the main drag of Ojai, within walking distance to boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. It’s an excellent place to regenerate or spring clean your mind, body, and spirit.  

Leslie Dinaberg

The Oaks at Ojai, 122 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 800/753-OAKS (6257), oaksspa.com.

Originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: Palm Springs

The pool at the Hyatt Palm Springs, photo by Hayley Danner.

The pool at the Hyatt Palm Springs, photo by Hayley Danner.

By Leslie Dinaberg

A recent quest to experience “two sides of the desert” has convinced me that the Palm Springs area has something for just about everyone to enjoy.

I began my adventure in the heart of the city at Hyatt Palm Springs (285 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760/322-9000, palmsprings.hyatt.com), where I stayed in a plush suite overlooking the golf course, within walking distance of many downtown hot spots. Actually, the Hyatt itself is a hot spot, with a lively and creative bar scene both inside at the SHARE Small Plate Bistro & Wine Lounge and outside at the Hoodoo Outdoor Cocktail Garden, which features live music and fabulous people watching.

Dinner our first evening was at the recently renovated Mr. Lyons (233 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760/327-1551, mrlyonsps.com), a local institution for more than 70 years. Evoking the Hollywood glamour of yesteryear, this fine dining steakhouse features black and white marble, wood, brass, leather and velvet interiors, along with a menu that carnivores will adore.

Brunch the next day was at the charmingly eclectic Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge (849 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760/325-8490, eight4nine.com). Located in the vibrant Uptown Design District in what used to be the Palm Springs post office, the restaurant features loads of white with brilliant pops of color and whimsical decor. Every bite was delicious—we’ll definitely return next time for dinner and to sample the inventive cocktail menu.

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Golf Course, courtesy photo.

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Golf Course, courtesy photo.

Our stomachs sated, it was time to head to the other side of the desert. Hyatt Regency Indian Wells (44600 Indian Wells Ln., Indian Wells, 760/776-1234, indianwells.regency.hyatt.com) is a mere 25-minute drive, but this luxurious resort is a world away from the bustling downtown area. Located on 45 acres of lush gardens, this beautiful property has seven pools, golf, tennis, a spa, a salon and much more. Our spacious room once again overlooked the golf course, a pleasing site, even for those of us who don’t play.

Instead, I visited the resort’s Agua Serena Spa. It’s a blissful place, and treatments include the use of a relaxation room, eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna, Jacuzzi and a reflection patio, where the sounds of dancing waters wash all of your worries away.

I could have happily stayed in the spa for several more hours, but, instead, I dressed for a fabulous private dinner that included a sampling of many dishes from the Hyatt’s romantic Lantana restaurant. Executive Chef Chris Mitchum talked us through an inspired spread that highlighted local ingredients from Coachella Valley.

Then it was on to Indian Wells Tennis Garden (78-200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells, 760/200-8400, iwtg.net) for an impressive behind-the-scenes tour that included a look inside two center court stadiums, the international pressroom and owner Larry Ellison’s private Nobu Restaurant, which is only open once a year during the annual BNP Paribas Open every spring. We also met vivacious singer Mindi Abair, who headlined that evening’s Desert Lexus Jazz Festival, along with Brian Culbertson and the Boneshakers. Not only is this a great venue for tennis, but it’s a wonderful spot to listen to music under the stars.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tram, courtesy photo.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tram, courtesy photo.

Although I had been to Palm Springs many times in the past, this trip was my first time on Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tram Way Rd., Palm Springs, 888/515-8726, pstramway.com). What an amazing, majestic capper to the desert experience! I can’t believe I had never done this. Ascending 2.5 miles up into the sky on the world’s largest rotating tramcar is almost an indescribably breathtaking experience as the tram journeys up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. A 10-minute ride from 2,643 ft. at Valley Station up to 8,516 ft. at Mountain Station took us from desert heat into more than 50 miles of snow-covered hiking trails and beautiful terrain. The pristine wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park offers a “third side” of the desert experience and was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

Whether you prefer your getaway action-packed, full of pampering or enjoying nature, there’s a desert destination designed just for you.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: Catalina Island

Living in a world-class vacation destination like Santa Barbara has a bounty of blissful benefits, but sometimes it’s still nice to get out of town for a bit. Here are a few favorite spots that are less than a day away from home.

Catalina Island
Relaxation and indulgence go hand-in-hand on Catalina Island, where you can enjoy being pampered at Island Spa Catalina. Courtesy of Santa Catalina Island Company.

Relaxation and indulgence go hand-in-hand on Catalina Island, where you can enjoy being pampered at Island Spa Catalina. Courtesy of Santa Catalina Island Company.

This beautiful getaway—just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California via Catalina Express (800/481-3470, catalinaexpress.com), with ports in San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point—offers a little piece of paradise with striking clear-blue waters and a laid-back friendly vibe that Santa Barbarans will appreciate and feel right at home with.

Avalon is a great walking town, with no cars allowed in much of the waterfront district and a charming path stretching from the Catalina Express boat moorings to Descanso Beach, a mile away. Descanso Beach Club (1 Descanso Ave., 310/510-7410, visitcatalinaisland.com) is a terrific spot for sunset cocktails. Poke into quaint shops like the eye-popping Afishionados Gallery Store (203 Crescent Ave., 310/510-2440, shop.afishionadosgallery.com), which has wonderful one-of-a-kind jewelry and art, and C.C. Gallagher (523 Crescent Ave., 310/510-1278, ccgallagher.com), a coffee house/wine tasting room that also carries high-end gifts, or pop into Lloyd’s of Avalon Confectionery (315 Crescent Ave., 310/510-7266, catalinacandy.com) for sweet treats.

Sip your blues away with cocktails at Maggie's Blue Rose on Catalina Island, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Sip your blues away with cocktails at Maggie’s Blue Rose on Catalina Island, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Explore the island further with a visit to Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden (1402 Avalon Canyon Rd., 310/510-2897, catalinaconservancy.org) or by renting a golf cart at Catalina Auto and Bike Rentals (635 Crescent Ave., 310/510-1600, catalinaislandgolfcart.com).

Avalon’s newest restaurant, Maggie’s Blue Rose (417 Crescent Ave., 310/510-3300, maggiesbluerose.com), features innovative Mexican cuisine (try the mole braised duck taquitos, the watermelon and spiced grilled shrimp salad and the fabulous grilled street corn on the cob, which is “derailed” tableside) and an extensive margarita selection (think tamarindo, cucumber and jalapeno, and desert pear flavors).

We also enjoyed a fantastic ocean-view dinner at another newbie to the island, Bluewater Avalon Seafood Restaurant (306 Crescent Ave., 310/510-3474, bluewatergrill.com). Located in the historic Avalon waterfront building that once served as the arrival and departure point for the SS Avalon and SS Catalina steamers, the restaurant offers a contemporary take on the classic New England seafood house.

To truly feel pampered, check out the brand-new Island Spa Catalina (163 Crescent Ave., 310/510-7300, visitcatalinaisland.com), which offers 15,000 square feet of indoor bliss, as well as a variety of outdoor spaces, including luxurious lounges, a soaking pool and the stunning turquoise-tiled vista deck. The spa features nine treatment rooms, a nail studio (the blend bar mani/pedi is a special treat for the senses), and light bites at Encanto Café. It’s a wonderful place to spend the day with friends (girls’ weekend treat or pre-wedding pampering).

Many people come to Catalina for a day trip, and that’s certainly do-able, but if you stay at the delightfully charming Pavilion Hotel (513 Crescent Ave., 310/510-1788, visitcatalinaisland.com), you may never want to leave! Renovated in 2010, this cozy hotel is a mere 14 steps from the beach. If you don’t want the sand in your toes, Pavilion Hotel has a spacious garden courtyard area, complete with fire pits, where you can enjoy the ocean view along with complimentary wine and cheese pairings, as well as an excellent continental breakfast.

—Leslie Dinaberg

For more info on this destination, or to request a free visitor’s guide, visit catalinachamber.com.

Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: King of the Road

Courtesy of Bowlus Road Chief LLC

Glamping Time! Talk about traveling in style! Each luxurious Bowlus Road Chief travel trailer is built to order and made from materials like birch, aluminum and brass, with the body joined together by more than 5,000 hand-bucked rivets to form a single, incredibly tough “monocoque” shell. Courtesy of Bowlus Road Chief LLC.

Roger Miller sang about “trailers for sale or rent,” but if he were writing that old ditty today, “King of the Road” would surely include a chorus about the Bowlus Road Chief. Billed as “the world’s most advanced luxury travel trailer,” the Bowlus Road Chief was engineered by Hawley Bowlus in the 1930s (the same fellow who built the Spirit of St. Louis, flown by Charles Lindbergh), and the design inspired a host of aluminum competitors including Airstream, Streamline, Silver Streak, Avion and Spartan.

As for the king of them all—the Bowlus—only 80 of these glittering riveted-aluminum capsule-shaped trailers were produced before World War II shut down the camper business.

Courtesy Bowlus Road Chief LLC

Courtesy Bowlus Road Chief LLC

These beautiful silver machines are being manufactured once again right down the road in Ventura County by recent east coast transplants Geneva Long and her father John. The reimagined Bowlus Road Chief has the same sleek lines as the vintage models but with modern amenities like solar panel hook ups, heated floors, central heating, beds that convert from twins to a king, indoor/outdoor showers, Wi-Fi charging stations and a cook’s kitchen. Plus, at 24 ft. long and 2,000 lbs, the Bowlus can legally follow just about any automobile. Each model is custom-built to order: the 2015 Bowlus Road Chief runs about $110,000.

—Leslie Dinaberg

For more info, call 855/926-9587 or visit bowlusroadchief.com.

 Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Lowdown | Everybody’s Doing the Localmotion!

The Land Shark, photo by Mercedes Lowe

The Land Shark, photo by Mercedes Lowe

By Leslie Dinaberg

Planes, trains and automobiles may bring people to town, but when you get here, Santa Barbara has loads of ways to locomote your way around. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, it’s easy to step off the gas and take a vacation from your car with Santa Barbara Car Free’s (santabarbaracarfree.org) discounts and tips. If it’s a guided tour you’re after, here are some fun ways to get around.

 

The Land Shark, photo by Mercedes Lowe

The Land Shark, photo by Mercedes Lowe

The Land Shark, photo by Mercedes Lowe

The Land Shark, photo by Mercedes Lowe

1   From See to Sea

Finally, a shark that doesn’t bite! The Land Shark amphibious tour vehicle is a fun-for-all-ages way to tour the town both by land and sea. The journey begins at Stearns Wharf and winds its way through an amusing narrative of the streets of Santa Barbara’s historic landmarks and attractions. Then—in what’s clearly the money shot of the day—you splash into the blue Pacific waters of the harbor to hear maritime legends and discover the abundant marine mammals and sea life that inhabit the ocean. Land and Sea Tours, 805/683-7600, out2seesb.com.

Santa Barbara Trolley Company, courtesy photo

Santa Barbara Trolley Company, courtesy photo

2   Trolley Tours

Whether you want a 90-minute narrated tour of Santa Barbara or prefer to hop around town all the livelong day, boarding the Santa Barbara Trolley is a great option. The trolley—which has toured Santa Barbara for more than 25 years—runs throughout the city from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, departing from Stearns Wharf, where the purchase of a single ticket gets you all-day on/off privileges. Points of interest include Santa Barbara Courthouse, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Old Mission Santa Barbara and more, all fully narrated by knowledgeable tour guides. Santa Barbara Trolley Company, 805/ 965-0353, sbtrolley.com.

 

Segway of Santa Barbara, photo by Mercedes Lowe

Segway of Santa Barbara, photo by Mercedes Lowe

3     Segway Scene

Hop on a two-wheeled Segway and see the sights in a whole new way. Guided tour options include the Santa Barbara Beach Run, from West Beach to Andree Clark Bird Refuge; a Butterfly Beach Tour, from Stearns Wharf to the historic Four Seasons Biltmore and Coral Casino; Old Santa Barbara, from Stearns Wharf to the courthouse; or the Mission Tour, which takes you from the pier to Old Mission Santa Barbara. Play your cards right and Josh, the flamenco guitar-playing guide, may even serenade you. Segway of Santa Barbara, 805/963-7672, segwayofsb.com.

Segway of Santa Barbara, photo by Mercedes Lowe

Segway of Santa Barbara, photo by Mercedes Lowe

Originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine