Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grapes, Meet Gravel: Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail Offers Delicious Vino Smack Dab in the Middle of Town

The serene and natural beauty that is Santa Barbara had been unknown to me until a recent business trip via Amtrak's Surfliner introduced me to her haunting and addictive charms.
A few thoughtful strolls on the beach and a generous sampling of wines later, I realized that not only does the Central Coast boast killer ocean views and friendly locals, the vino produced in this region is pretty amazing too.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my visit included a stay at the gorgeous oceanside Fess Parker Doubletree Resort. I enjoyed a sunset rooftop tasting of the late actor's award-winning wines, and especially enjoyed Parker's Big Easy Syrah, aged in French and American oak and full of chocolate, blueberry, sandalwood and a hint of smoke.
I also discovered what is touted locally as the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. There are several tasting rooms situated on and near State Street, all within blocks of a vibrant downtown and the beach. Since the arrival of my train home was imminent, I was only able to make it to one of those places which in hindsight, was a terrific choice.
At Kalyra Wines, I felt as if I had just stepped into a funky, aboriginal meets tiki-style lounge. The winery's strategically-located tasting room is staffed by friendly, knowledgeable wine lovers like the charismatic Izzy, who guided me through a series of wines produced in both Santa Barbara County and Australia, the home of winemaker Mike Brown.
My passion for reds notwithstanding, I really took to the 2008 Kalyra Pino Bianco, refreshingly crisp and floral with bright citrus and hints of honey. This is the type of wine you want to tuck into a picnic basket as you make a beeline for the sand. My real favorite was a wine I want to tuck myself in with at night, the 2006 Kalyra MC2 blend. This delicious Bordeaux-style wine is full of huge fruit with soft tannins and a smooth mouthfeel. I could really get used to these wines and the spirit of sun, surf and carefree living they evoke.
As my train pulled away from the station and I bid a painful adieu, I was already making plans for a return trip to this coastal paradise, and to the wine region that has surely stolen my heart, one sip at a time.
Vino Chick would like to acknowledge the following:

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