Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunset Kidds and Wine Tasting Escapes

I turned 25 this year, and as it happens my aunt and uncle also celebrated a 25 as well: 25 years of marriage! 

To mark this special occasion, they put together a wine tasting trip and invited my cousin and me along with them. 

My mom and my aunt are identical twins and all of our family have always been close, but it was still really nice of them to think of me. It was my first-ever wine tasting excursion :)

The evening before we rolled into the gorgeous Santa Ynez valley, we hopped aboard my second sailing adventure of the summer in Santa Barbara!

We took a sunset cruise on the Sunset Kidd with a great captain, who we later found out grew up on the exact same street as my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Small world!

We set up our picnic near the bow of the boat and enjoyed appetizers (courtesy of Trader Joes) before we took off.

Fun fact: Santa Barbara is one of the only places in CA where, geographically, the sun doesn't set over the water.

But if you get far out enough in the water, you can see where the land ends and the sunset over the water begins. 

The next day we were picked up in this baby! Have you ever seen anything like it?

If you're ever in Santa Barbara and want to do a wine tasting tour, DeeTours is the ONLY way to go. Not only is Dee a fantastic and fierce lady, but she's a knowledgable guide who threw in a TON of extras.

Going topless, oooo la la.

Our first stop was Beckman Vineyards, a family-owned and operated vineyard.

Plump grapes growing on the vines

The wine-making machine! They were pressing grapes when we arrived.

 We decided to sit outside to enjoy the views.

This cat has it made.

One of the guys working the press came back and gave us all fresh grape juice to try. Way better than anything you'll find at the store.

We started with white and worked our way to red. And if I wasn't already feeling fancy enough, I learned this was the same red served to the president at one of his dinners.

My cousin and I enjoyed walking around admiring the scenery

Our next stop was Brander Vineyard

It reminded me of a castle. So pretty!

We stayed inside for this round of tasting and enjoyed learning a bit about the geography. 

Remember how I said Dee threw in some extras? Our next stop was an olive oil tasting!



We tried every one with fresh tomatoes and bread. So, so good. We ended up walking away with garlic-rosemary and lemon-basil.

And for even more extras, we stopped by a rescued animal farm!

Baby donkeys had just been born the week prior. SO TINY.

This little guy let us pet him.

Our 3rd stop was Lincourt Vineyards, where we crashed Lauren Conrad's wedding.

Kidding, but she WAS getting married in Santa Ynez that same day. (I have no idea where, though)

Who could blame her for wanting a vineyard wedding? It's GORGEOUS up here.

Lincourt was definitely the prettiest vineyard we visited. 

So pretty that there was even another wedding being set up as we were tasting! 

We enjoyed a really filling lunch from a local, organic deli and tasted more wine.

Then we set off for our final vineyard.

The drive was, of course, gorgeous.

Our 4th stop was Rusack Vineyards

It was challenging for me to keep up with everyone and I didn't end up trying the last few wines, but I did love the scenery! 

But before we went back to Santa Barbara, we stopped in the cutest little Dutch town called Solvang! (Another one of Dee's extras!)

We walked around for about half an hour exploring. (And walking off wine)

While my aunt and cousin stopped for coffee, I spotted BOOKS.

It was the cutest little bookstore that I discovered connected with the cafe they were in, haha.

After our explorations in Solvang, we hopped in the Jeep and drove back to SB for the evening. 

Definitely a very successful trip!

I picked up little Gizzy the next day, and it was safe to say he was exhausted from daycare. 

(I think they keep thinking he's a girl, because he came home with that bow lolol.)

It was a super fun family weekend :)