Santa Maria Wine Country

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.”

Wineries Visited

  • 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
    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
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
    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.

Thanks for reading! Cheers friends!

Meet Andrew and Matthew

Hello! My brother and I want to start off our blog with a bit of an introduction for who we are and what we hope to accomplish with this blog.

To start off, here are some things about us. We are not classically trained in the food or beverage industry in the sense that we have never received any formal training bartending, winemaking, sommelier, or cooking. However, at one point or another one or both of us have discussed an interest in becoming a bartender or sommelier. We are high enthusiasts that love to explore and find new wineries, breweries, bars, distilleries, and restaurants. We love planning trips to wine country and breweries and meeting new friends along the journey.

We know that wine and wine culture can be confusing and intimidating for a lot of people. I know when we both started we were a little reserved and intimidated when it came to talking about wine with other people. As we learned more about it, we became more comfortable having discussions about wine with other people. Talking about wine and our experiences with other people has opened doors, created friendships, and benefited our relationship. Our goal is to help provide people with the information to make them feel more confident with their own wine experiences. But also we want to empower people to try new places and explore all of the different options that we have to eat and drink.

Our Approach to Wine

Our approach to wine is pretty simple. We will taste EVERYTHING. We know that may seem like a strange concept because some of you out there. We know that there are people that only drink reds, only whites, or only certain varietals…which is completely fine if that’s what works for you. Part of you may be thinking to yourself that we are crazy for trying everything which is also fine. And if you don’t think we are crazy just for trying everything, you will probably think we are definitely crazy after reading the next sentence. In addition to trying everything, we are also the weird ones that will not stick to the classic order of going from whites to reds and then from reds to dessert wines. We believe that if you break out of the mold a little, you open yourself up to a whole new world of experiences that may present themselves.

How Food and Wine has Benefited our Relationship

Our food journey started a few days before Christmas one year when my brother and I were sitting at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. Up to that point, we had very rarely ever done a sit-down dinner with just the two of us. Both of us had been in college, and as many of you know, college budgets usually keep food experiences limited to most fast food chains. But also, as anyone with siblings will attest, our relationship had more rocky moments than moments filled with brotherly love.

We decided that we were going to, for just one night, forget about the cost and just enjoy ourselves. That dinner became an opportunity to reconnect and rebuild our relationship as brothers. This dinner also instilled for us the value of family meals. And by family we mean meals with those people in your life that you value and cherish time with whether that is family or close friends (what we like to call our extended family).

But at this dinner, we decided to make a new tradition. Around Christmas each year we find a time to go to a sit-down restaurant. We made this decision because then at least once a year we would be able to sit-down just the two of us and talk about what was going on in our lives.

How Wine Expanded our Interests

Our interest in wine sparked an interest in cooking in Matthew and rejuvenated the interest for Andrew. The more we learned about wine, the more we became interested in pairing wine with food. The interest in food and wine pairings combined with our love of film led us to attempting to pair a dining and film experience. We wanted to pair a Chef’s Tasting Menu with the film Burnt, starring Bradley Cooper. This led us to Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach, CA. This interest was furthered our interests in other areas of the food and beverage industry such as beer and cocktails.

Our Approach to Drinking Alcohol

We believe that alcohol has the chance to enrich our lives. Mostly this enrichment comes when we find the perfect pairing for a particular wine, beer, or cocktail. However, it can enrich our lives by providing as an icebreaker which can lead to making new connections and friendships. However, alcohol can have devastating effects on life if it is abused as a way to mask emotions or if we do not respect the way it influences our bodies and therefore please drink responsibly.

Thanks for reading! Cheers friends!