If you happened to see the 2004 Academy Award nominated comedy-drama Sideways, you have already taken a road trip to Santa Barbara County wine country–the perfect climate for producing the red varietal, Pinot Noir.
We visited this beautiful region just a couple of weeks ago and I’m ready to return. This time I’ll take you with me.
You may remember that first we stopped to give Zena a Pacific Ocean splash at a wonderfully hospitable dog beach in Santa Barbara.
Do you recognize this tunnel?
Thirty-three miles northwest of Santa Barbara, the Gaviota Tunnel takes the northbound lanes of U.S. Route 101–El Camino Real–through a narrow canyon of the Gaviota Pass. This is where I would ordinarily begin to fill in how the Pass is a California Historical Landmark because of actions associated with the Mexican-American War on Christmas Day 1846–but I’ll hold back in favor of some popular culture.
Instead I’ll share the tunnel’s connection to the movie The Graduate. Dustin Hoffman, in his role as Benjamin Braddock, drives his Alfa Romeo Spider south through this tunnel to Santa Barbara; however, it is really going the wrong direction, since the tunnel only takes traffic from Santa Barbara north.
I always look forward to sharing vistas of beautiful open countryside, so while Jay drove, I snapped photos through a dirty windshield.
I think we’ll spend a little time enjoying the view. We can stop at the wineries later.
We spent our long weekend in the city of Lompoc, pronounced LOM-POKE, named from a Chumash word “Lum Poc,” which means “stagnant waters” or “lagoon”–oh dear. Here I go again.
But I can’t resist just one more interesting bit of historical trivia.
After the United States gained control of California, portions of Rancho Lompoc were sold to the Lompoc Valley Land Company and the present-day Lompoc was established as a temperance colony.
How’s that for irony?
Santa Barbara County, with its patchwork of microclimates and rolling hills, is now home to over 100 wineries and tasting rooms.
The beautiful belt of fog is in part responsible for the perfect Pinot Noir growing conditions.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll follow the wine trail next time. And for me, there will be many more “next times.” I love the bucolic scenery, and Zena needs another romp in the Pacific.