Santa Maria Valley
If you’re looking for a two or three-day getaway, to enjoy great wine, food and natural beauty, head to Santa Maria’s Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. The Trail includes13 distinctive wineries, each with unique stories to be told.
A Keys 2 the Coast favorite is Rancho Sisquoc Winery.
Located at 6601 Foxen Canyon Road in Santa Maria. Known for 40 years of crafting small batches of delicious, superior wines, in a setting that is unforgettable, are two of the many reasons that make this winery and tasting room a destination for wine and nature lovers.
With majestic mountains as the backdrop, 300 acres of grapes are grown on site for their estate wines. Imagine a dark, woodsy tasting room in a spectacular setting, surrounded by grassy areas for picnics. Pergola covered patios, canopied with grapevines and deep red leaves, create the perfect place to hang out with friends or have a picnic.
The tasting room is very inviting. We brought my daughter here for her 21st birthday and our jovial host took the time to show her how to do a “proper” tasting.
Two of many exceptional award-winning wines are the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a Double Gold Medal winner at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and the 2015 Riesling, which won the Gold Medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. “An interesting German varietal, the 2015 Sylvaner is one of my personal favorites. We believe that the only other winery that grows Sylvaner is the Scribe Winery in Sonoma. It has apricots, and honey on the nose”, stated Andy Scarff, our charming tasting room attendant.
This is one of the few wineries that I have visited that, in my opinion, is truly family-friendly. Although, I am not an advocate of taking kids wine tasting. Huge, green trees provide shade over picnic tables and grassy areas to lay out your blanket. The location is ideal. The drive is as scenic as it gets if you like rolling hills, green pastures, and miles of vineyards. It is a quiet country setting, where you can get away from noise, traffic and take in the serenity. Conversation, laughter and, on occasion, live music are the only sounds you will hear.
Less than two miles away from Rancho Sisquoc Winery, is a cool place to visit, called the Chapel of San Ramon, which is a chapel and cemetery built in 1875 by Frederick Wickenden, for his wife Ramona (Foxen). However, it is believed that Thomas Foxen and Chris Lawson did most the work building Chapel, San Ramon.
Over time, the church was damaged due to weather and vandalism. In April of 1958, the restoration process began. On April 30, 1967, the Chapel of San Ramon was dedicated as the first historic landmark listed by the county of Santa Barbara and as a California Historical Landmark #877 on August 31, 1975.
To this day, you will feel as if you have traveled back in time, as you look upon this tiny church with two steeples, topped by crosses and a third gracing the entryway to the front door. Walking around the property has a stillness that I can’t quite explain. The church sits on a hilltop, in the midst of the deep blue sky. It is the epitome of a quaint little church.
Today, a Catholic mass is held at 10:15 every Sunday. The grounds and cemetery are open daily to the public from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm.
The Historic Santa Maria Inn is full of rich history.
If you want to learn more about history, the distinguished Historic Santa Maria Inn, in the heart of Santa Maria, is a great place to spend a couple of nights on exploring the many wineries and tasting rooms in the area. They just celebrated their 100-year anniversary and underwent a remodel. The food is excellent at the hotel and the walls are covered in photographs, rich in captured memories of stars in days gone by.
If you’re hungry and want to try famous Santa Maria style BBQ, the Hitching Post in Casmalia is a sure thing. The dry-rub ribs are tender and delicious and you will not find a better steak anywhere. The portions are generous, the fish is fresh and the drinks are strong.
I encourage you to savor the history and live today to this fullest.
Wine, dine and explore!