We had previously attended the open house at Au Bon Climat. Our drive to the event and an extra stop at Cottonwood Canyon Winery inspired both of us to come and see what else was out there in Santa Maria. We wish we could say that this trip was planned but Andrew sometimes investigates wineries for a couple hours and then declares: “Get in the car, this is going to be fun.” Matthew is always a good sport and in all fairness we did have some previous recommendations such as Foxen Vineyard and Winery, but we kept most of this day trip flexible. This can lead to awesome experiences that only come from winging it. So as Frank Sinatra used to sing: “Come fly with me, we’ll fly, we’ll fly away.”
- Foxen Vineyard and Winery
Main Tasting Room Address: 7600 Foxen Canyon Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454
Hours: Daily 11 am – 4 pm
Phone: (805) 937 – 4251
Favorite(s) of the Day: Chenin Blanc and 2015 Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir
Foxen had been repeated recommended to us so it seemed appropriate that their tasting room would be the first we visited. They have two different tasting rooms the primary tasting room specializes in Burgundy style and the other emphasizing Bordeaux style. We chose the main tasting room, which offers two different flights available: (1) Mixed flight – Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and 3 Pinot Noir ($15) and (2) All Pinot Noir (6 tastes for $25). We were told Foxen 7200 (aka The Shack) offers big, bold reds that focuses on Bordeaux and Italian varietals. We did not visit Foxen 7200 this trip, but we will visit it on another trip to Santa Maria.
Despite our love for Pinot Noir, the wine that surprised us as being our favorite was their Chenin Blanc. In addition to the tasting room, there are tables outside so you can enjoy your lunch or just soak in the sun and the views.
- Kenneth Volk Vineyards
Address: 5230 Tepusquet Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454
Hours: Thursday – Monday 10:30 am – 4:30 pm; Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Phone: (805) 938 – 7896
Favorite(s) of the Day: Verdelho and Mourvedre
Kenneth Volk showed up on our radar when it was discovered Ken Volk was the founder of Wild Horse Winery in Templeton, CA (he has since sold Wild Horse). We were delighted and surprised by the extensive tasting offerings on the tasting menu. Each wine feels like a personal expression from the wine maker. We were able to choose 6 tastes of the offering provided that day. Their current tasting list was full of Austrian, Portuguese, and Spanish Varietals. The grapes for their wines are sourced from the AVAs that are able to grow the grapes. For the current list, Kenneth Volk sourced from Paso Robles along with elsewhere.
- Riverbench Vineyard and Winery
Address: 6020 Foxen Canyon Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454
Hours: Daily 10 am – 4 pm
Phone: (805) 937 – 8340
Favorite(s) of the Day: 2010 Blancs de Noir.
The tasting staff from Kenneth Volk recommended that we visit Riverbench for their lovely property an excellent sparkling wines. We welcomed the change and also relished the idea of visiting the physical property. It was a happy coincidence that the day they went they were pouring a sparkling flight with two library wines to compare to current releases. The sparkling flight consisted of a 2016 Blancs de Blanc, 2012 Blancs de Blanc, 2015 Blancs de Noir, and 2010 Blancs de Noir. The 2010 Blancs de Noir was described to us as “brunch in a glass” and we both highly recommend this one if you have a chance to try it.
Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards
Address: 6905 Foxen Canyon Rd, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Hours: Daily 10 am – 4 pm
Phone: (805) 688 – 9339
Favorite(s) of the Day: Too Hard to Pick
This was our first visit to Zaca Mesa, we had heard that they were the best and could not wait to visit. Unfortunately, we arrived later than anticipated and were not sure if we would be able to be served or finish a complete tasting. Mackenzie, our tasting room attendant, welcomed us and assured us that they were able to accommodate us. She was extremely knowledgeable about the wines and property, which made for an insightful experience. We would recommend talking to her if you ever visit the tasting room. We had an amazing experience and the wines were all excellent. Zaca Mesa not only met but exceeded our expectations. We recommend this be a top priority when visiting the area.
- Andrew Murray Vineyards
Address: Foxen Canyon Rd, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Hours: Daily 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
Phone: (805) 686 – 9604
Favorite(s) of the Day: 2018 Espeance Rose
Andrew Murray was our final stop of the day, the most noticeable difference from the rest was a tasting area for the public as well as a private lounge for wine club members. The staff was friendly and we enjoyed our time. Their tasting consists of five tastes of the current offering. During our tasting we found out about the All-Access Pass ($25) that allows you to enjoy tasting flights at Andrew Murray (tasting room on Foxen Canyon) and Elleven (Downtown Los Olivos). They also offer local chocolate for purchase along with other products. We wish we had more time here but since this was an impromptu day trip we figured we could do a deeper dive on our return to the area.