Solvang / Santa Ynez / Los Olivos / Buellton

P.S. Raj Parr at Domaine de la Cote makes fairly elegant Pinot. Matt Dees at Jonata/Hilt has nice wines as well.

Depends on climate, soil, altitude, and exposure, as well as on the choice not to prune and pick for maximum ripeness.

A French chef I met called those “cocktail wines.” He hated them because they would throw off his customers’ palates, like cocktails.

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Anything specific or just a general downhill? I went relatively recently and found my steak as good as I remembered it.

Jocko’s oak grilled Spencer was off-the-charts delicious in the early 2000’s.

Last couple of times we visited the meat seemed to be of lower quality and tasted “baked” - grandma style.

N.B. Restaurant was crowded as hell both times. The kitchen might have been overwhelmed.

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Sorry to hear that.

Correct. Which is why in that area we prefer the Pinots of Santa Rita hills. They get a nice chill at night.

I have to say Demetria is able to largely keep their Rhônes restrained. We bought pantheon by the case for years. I think dragonette is lighter as well but been a while.

Way up north Stolo is doing a lovely Syrah close to the coast


Enjoyed that lol

Dude didn’t pull any punches.

I think “Central Coast” is too broad to be descriptive.

The Santa Ynez Valley is widely considered “cool climate” for winemaking. The climate of the western side of the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Rita Hills) is reputed to be similar to that of Burgundy. Supposedly, there is a one degree increase in temperature for every one mile you go inward, away from the ocean. Overgeneralizing, you see Burgundy grapes on the west, more Rhone grapes further in, and more cabernet further in still.

In my experience, again overgeneralizing, the wines of the Santa Ynez Valley are nicely balanced and European (especially Mediterranean) in style. They are great for food pairing (much better than Napa, IMO). Sine Qua Non is an extreme outlier.

The Central Coast extends all the way up to San Francisco and has a wide variety of climates.

It’s certainly not a useful AVA for consumers.

A fair portion of it (e.g. eastern Contra Costa County) is not by any reasonable definiion “coastal.”

I also call them cocktail wines. Actually a glass or two can be a meal on its own!

I completely agree. I was just taking a broad view from Mars.

I was going to mention them, now I don’t have too!

RIP to pops. Respect for dryfarming.

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Bummer! When I was there last it was still as wood smacked as ever, and plastic-knife tender. I have heard that there are days - maybe when it’s less crowded, or maybe just at lunch, or maybe when they don’t have the right personnel in the kitchen - that they don’t bother firing up the big grill. But I haven’t encountered that myself.

Little Beef cheek sandwich from Bells today.


Think we’re gonna head up this way for a weekend post vaccination - any more specific winery recs for the area? Marked down Tercero, Demetria, Hilt, Domaine de la Cote (and attached labels - though it looks like they’re not doing tastings now) from this thread.

Have found another rec or two online but I trust folks here way more than the many sponsored ‘lifestyle blogs’ that pop up when you google this kind of thing…

I was very impressed by Ambyth’s wines:

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Went this past weekend and had a great time. Dinners were at Firestone which has a nice outdoor patio and terrific barrel-aged beers, but pretty mediocre bar food, and also at Industrial Eats. The latter is a favorite, but I miss dining with them pre-pandemic when you’re not relegated to takeout containers and freezing outdoor tables. The best meal though was breakfast at Bob’s Well Bread. Absolutely stellar. Big thank you to this thread for pointing me in that direction.

Wineries were all chosen based on how kid-friendly they are and thus in part how expansive of an outdoor setting they have, so nothing spectacular, but Koehler fits that bill and was good as always.


I don’t recall if it was covered here but, if you’re going to be in Paso Robles, don’t miss Tin City. It’s an industrial park almost entirely inhabited by great wineries with a few spirits, beer, and food venues too.