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May 26, 2012 02:06 PM

Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos Wine Recommendations

My wife and I are heading to Solvang for the weekend to enjoy some tasting and celebrate our 1st anniversary. At the moment we're staying in Solvang (Hadsten House) and having dinner at Root 246. I'm open to suggestions for a different dinner, as well as lunch and breakfast in the area, but what we're most looking for is wine suggestions.

Here's what I know:
1)We're willing to travel a bit around the area, hence the title. I've been in the area a half dozen times and enjoyed some great wines, but we're really looking for something different.

2)We tend to prefer appointment experiences, since they are usually less crowded, which can be an issue on the weekends.

3)We tend to prefer old-world "style" wines, meaning good minerality, and less fruit bombs. Balance is key. No strong preference as to white or red wines, though I suppose we lean a bit more towards red.

4)If I were to define some of the things we like, my favorite grape (at the moment) is Granache, and we tend to enjoy Rhone style wines. We've been to Demetria and enjoy it a lot, just as a point of reference.

Ideas? Thoughts? I've searched the boards significantly, but most of the recs are from last year (or before), so I'd love any thoughts from recent (or permanent) visitors!

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  1. I am not the eonophile but others will come along who are and can head you in the right direction. For dining, here are my own favorites and ones you may want to try that others recommend consistently:

    1. Ballard Inn - in Ballard ***
    2. Grappolo in Santa Ynez
    3. Mirabelle - Solvang
    4. Paula's Pancakes - Beullton
    5. Los Olivos Store - Los Olivos, for gourmet picnic supplies and snacks
    6. abelskievers - somewhere out the shop window in downtown Solvang, even though they are not very authentic, they are unique to this area with its Danish heritage

    My own favorite winery to visit more for the drive and the setting is Rancho Sisquoc - a lovely picnic spot.

    4 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      I see a lot of recommendations for Paula's and my grandfather, a local, is a fan. That being said the one time I've been I wasn't super impressed - I imagine I'm getting the wrong thing - what's he right thing?

      1. re: Bean Counter

        Paula's Pancakes: One of the spots, along with Mirabelle I have not been to myself but remember many recommendations from others here. Have been to Norberts in SB before he took over Mirabelle and he has such strong culinary roots so I think sight unseen this remains a top recombination.

        There is another lunch spot in Solvang with an funny, odd little name that looks pretty inventive too - someone will be sure to add that to

        1. re: glbtrtr

          Cafe Succulent- odd name- awesome food.

          Grenache- Zaca Mesa, Standing Sun, Beckman maybe- they do some really nice rhone wines..Andrew Murray too.

          1. re: OldJalamaMama

            Always good advice, listen to yo momma, Cafe Succulent it is:

            This menu sounds like it comes from in the same culinary family as Scarlett Begonia in downtown Santa Barbara Victoria Court. We are getting to be almost an embarrassment of riches for top level dining now even for lunch and breakfast after pretty standard fare for so long. I have to put Cafe Succulent on our must do list for sure.

    2. Try the Ethan Grenache at Qupe tasting room in Los Olivos. An 11 on the 10 scale! While in Los Olivos, go to Global Gardens for local, organic olive oil tastings presented in an educational flavorful way along with balsamic fruit vinegars & more!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caliterranean

        Global Gardens is a wonderful shop- nice folks inside! For a very reasonable price- you get a artists palate of tastes- literally. Asian Pear vinegar is my favorite!
        There is a new shop on the corner of Alamo Pintado & Grand, next ot Panino- they have local jerky, olive wood cutting boards, among other goodies- run by Christina Lo Cosio, who does the "painting with wine must" art.
        I always have to remind folks- the best in cheese and crackers, loose tea and coffee AND hosting Solvang Bakery goods until their shop re-opens next door- is the VIN HUS on Alisal rd in Solvang. The many small bottles of wine, condiments, european goods- make it a must stop, if even for the spreadable cheddar sample!

      2. I second a lot of the great recommendations for terrific eating in the area. As for vino, I just got a great deal by buying a Summer Pass for wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. It's good for tastings at 11 different wineries, all for only $35, and I can use it throughout the summer. Some of the wineries I've been to before and others I've heard of and have been eager to try.

        1. whoops. maybe I should make it easier for anyone who wants to get in on the wine tasting deal! Here's the link I used: