Will Wander for Wine

Summer Adventures in California

While fall doesn’t officially start until September 23rd, we can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for all the fun we had this summer. We traveled throughout California in search of the best food/wine/experiences our state has to offer, which left very little time for putting our feet up in the backyard.

Here are a few highlights from Anne’s summer travels…which naturally involved some tasty cold beverages and lots of family fun in the great outdoors of California.

Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara is my hometown and I get down there as often as possible. I love the Napa summer heat to a point…and find Santa Barbara’s foggy mornings and warm afternoons are like the goldilocks version of “just right” weather. Days are filled with a mix of beach, pool, and repeat since my husband, 8 year-old-twins and the Pupsistant are with me. I always make a little time for visiting new wineries and gathering a few items that will remind me of my beachy roots when I return back to Napa.

This trip I got to pop by Margerum’s new Funk Zone tasting room, which has been one of my canned rosé crushes for the past year. The space is light and airy, and a lovely spot to grab a glass of rosé while you are out exploring Santa Barbara’s hippest new neighborhood. While down there, also check out Lama Dog for a selection of local beers on tap and a huge cold case (which is how I found the cans of Margerum last summer). For local goodies that will remind me of the scents of home, I stop in at the Seaside Maker Collective to grab some custom “Surf” blending oil from Grapeseed Company. Take a walk out onto Santa Barbara’s famous pier for sunset viewing and you've pretty much had the quintessential sun/sand Santa Barbara moment. Top it off with a dinner at hotspot Loquita and see where all the laid-back cool kids eat!

Paso Robles, CA
While on my way south, I passed through Paso Robles and bribed my kids with some tasty sheep’s milk ice cream at Negranti Creamery so that I could explore the rosé scene. A “quick” stop at Tin City can lead you down the rabbit hole of small, but well-established craft beverage companies. It’s hard to pick my favs because I would happily spend an entire day walking from spot to spot….but here’s a few you can’t miss. Levo Wines makes an outstanding French-style rosé. We picked up 6 bottles on the way to SB and then another 6 on the way home - it was that good. The Tin City Cider folks got us hooked on their Poly Doly rosé cider a couple years ago and now if Nicole or I pass through town, it’s mandatory to pick some up for the other person. It’s tart and acidic, and the carbonation makes it feel like a sparkling pink treat. Don’t miss the beer at Barrel House Brewing. Whenever we go, we always strike up a conversation with a friendly local who knows exactly what new beer to try. They always have a food truck for a quick bite, and have concerts out in the back with local artists. And a heads up for scheduling your wine country trips next year…Nicole went down for the Paso Food Wine Festival in May …which is a great opportunity to try all the best local wines AND sample their famous barbecue.

Bridgeport, CA
I’ll freely admit that I’m not the biggest camper, but when a friend mentioned that they knew of an outdoor adventure where I wouldn’t have to sleep in a tent, I was in! Bridgeport is an adorable one-horse (literally) town on the eastern side of the Sierras. The ½ mile long, turn-of-the-century town has become known for its access to amazing fishing, hiking and the Sierras. We luxury “camped” in an RV at a spot we found on Hip Camp called Paradise Shores. They supplied the well-stocked RV and we just showed up! On our first day fishing with a local fishing guide, we caught nine trout, which were delicious roasted whole and stuffed with lemon and garlic and paired with a Napa Pinot. We kayaked, fished, rode horses to alpine lakes, star-gazed, and naturally, found the only brewery within 50 miles. Big Meadow Brewing’s Mango Wheat was the perfect way to wrap up a day of adventure. 

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