Thursday, April 15, 2010

DOWNSHIFTERS' DIARY: Our 'Sideways' tour, Day Two

Day Two of our Sideways tour of California's Central Coast began after coffee and Danish pastries in the Danish town of Solvang.

From Solvang, which means "sunny fields," we drove to Los Olivos, the home of several tasting rooms and a well-stocked grocery named, appropriately, the Los Olivos Grocery. There, we stocked up on the picnic supplies that would later become lunch, then set off to taste.

Walking Los Olivos' main street was interesting, as is the case in many small towns. However, the tasting rooms in town seemed to be a bit "elastic" as to their opening times so, eager to let the tasting begin, we headed out to three wineries along Foxen Canyon Road north of town.

Our first stop was Fess Parker. Begun by the actor who we Boomers grew up watching as both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, the winery has become a well-respected establishment and purveyor of some "super-premium" wines. While their signature wines are lovely, they also offer more pedestrian blends for commensurately more modest prices.

 We left with a Dry Riesling, a 2006 "Big Easy" Cabernet Sauvignon (which is exactly as the name implies: big and easy to drink) and a table wine called "Frontier Red." Fess Parker also includes the glass, which has a coonskin cap logo, for your $10 tasting fee.

With our stash up to eight bottles, we headed up the road to Zaca Mesa, a winery that boasts of producing its wines "sustainably." Regardless of that proviso (or its appearance in Sideways) few of its wines grabbed us, though we did select a very smooth, creamy white called Roussanne and a 2006 Syrah.

Our last stop was the Foxen vineyard farthest north on Foxen Canyon Road. That distinction is important because Foxen has two tasting rooms less than a mile apart; the one we visited featured more white wines and was also a location in the movie. Perhaps ironically, we bought a red -- a 2006 Cabernet -- and had our picnic lunch on their patio.

As it was still early in the afternoon and we'd had our fill of wine tasting, we decided to drive Highway 1 to Carmel/Monterey. Along the way, we stopped to dip our toes in the water and take numerous photograph of elephant seals, the magnificent scenery, and other items.

Arriving in Monterey, we made for Cannery Row and procured an ocean side room at the historic Spindrift Inn, followed by dinner at the nearby Charthouse Restaurant. After that, we allowed the lapping of the waves to lull us off to dreamland - the end of a perfect day!

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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