Los Olivos, California is on the beautiful Central Coast, about 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara. This region is home to some very nice wines that rival those of its famous counterparts to the north…Napa and Sonoma, except for the price!
I visited four very nice tasting rooms in “downtown” Los Olivos. The first was Alta Maria, owned by James Ontiveros, of the Ontiveros vineyard in Santa Maria, and Paul Wilkins, his friend since school days. They produce Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon under the Alta Maria Label ($18-$28) and some whole cluster fermented, very small production Pinot Noir under the Native9 label that sells for $64/bottle. I particularly liked the 2010 Alta Maria Pinot Noir. altamaria.com
Next, I visited Pacific Ridge Vineyards, another boutique winery that produces about 1500 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. The winery is owned and operated by Bob Kelly, who is also the winemaker. I especially enjoyed the reasonably priced Pinot Noir. www.sbcountywines.com
Carhartt, my third stop, had a totally different vibe, more like a small backyard retreat. Mr Carhartt’s great grandfather founded the Carhartt work clothes company in 1889. Many vintners in the area have worn Carhartt jackets and overalls over the years. As for their wines, they had a standout Sangiovese, Grenache Rosé and a Rhône blend. Other varietals included a Grenache Blanc and a Sauvignon blanc. They also produce a Cabernet Franc and Pinot, both of which were, unfortunately for me, sold out. Prices range from $21-$40. www.carharttvineyard.com
The last winery visit of the day was to Presqu’ile, (Creole for “Almost an island) a relatively new boutique winery that specializes in Pinot Noirs and has a killer tasting room that was formerly a law office. But, this spot is only temporary until they move into their new tasting room at the winery, about 20 miles to the north. presquilewine.com
The day ended with a fantastic dinner at the new Brothers’ restaurant location..Sides Hardware and Shoes, named after the original business housed in the historic building. They recently moved there from their previous location at Mattei’s.
I enjoyed the Panzanella, special salad of the day…followed by a superb lamb sirloin. I highly recommend this restaurant to end a perfect day of wine tasting. Bon Appetit! brothersrestaurant.com
Until next time…à votre santé!