Santa Rosa Road – part 3

(For part two in this series, visit here.)

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As you continue driving ocean-ward on the Santa Rosa Road, soak in the effects of the tectonic plate movements from millions of years ago that left these IMG_4987transverse (west-to-east) mountain ranges. It’s this unique formation that leaves the two valleys—one between La Purisma hills and Santa Rita Hills; and the other between Santa Rita Hills and Santa Rosa hills—cooled by coastal fog and wind, conditions ideal for pinot noir and chardonnay.

From the second section of La Encantada, we continue west to D’alfonso-Curren and Arcadian wineries (at 11.13).

D'Alfonso

Quickly up are Rancho La Vina (at 11.20, 4435 Santa Rosa Road) and the 3700-acre Rancho Salsipuedes—meaning “get out if you can!”—with almost 200 acres devoted to its Radian, Bentrock, and Puerta del Mar vineyards (the latter being outside the SRH AVA).

More stunning views lie ahead, especially around 14.30 where the valley spreads wide between the limestone cliffs to the north and the Santa Rosa hills.

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Finally, at 16.41 from the starting point (see the first post in this series for the beginning mark), Santa Rosa Road meets highway 1.

What an amazing stretch: world-class vineyards, rich agriculture in the diatomaceous earth, looming hills to north and south, and—if you keep your eyes open!—plenty of wildlife. (On a recent morning, I spotted a deer, two small bobcats, and a coyote.)

If you can’t get there, then keep an eye out for the vineyards with some of your favorite wines. Watch for Rita’s Crown, Wenzlau, Sanford & Benedict, La Rinconada, La Encantada, Fiddlestix, Mount Carmel, Sea Smoke, etc.

Cheers!

Richard Sanford, who in 1971 planted the first pinot noir vines in Santa Barbara County.
Richard Sanford, who in 1971 planted the first pinot noir vines in Santa Barbara County.

 

Note: Future posts will focus on Mail Road and Sweeney Road.

Santa Rosa Road – part 2

(For part one, visit the previous post.)

After a brief glimpse of the beautiful vineyards ahead (at 6.60) and after passing Santa Rosa Park (7.60), the most impressive views on Santa Rosa Road occur starting around 7.95. Off to the north are the vineyards of Sea Smoke, Mount Carmel, Rita’s Crown, and Wenzlau. You can pull off the road at 8.26 (at 512′ elevation), and walk just a couple hundred feet for a stunning view.

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At 8.72, you are flanked by renowned Sanford & Benedict and then La Rinconada vineyards (south) and Fiddlestix vineyard (north). Be sure to notice the old Sanford barn up above S&B (at 8.78). And watch for the 7.28 road sign just to your right—marking the distance from hwy 1 to the west. 

The Sanford & Benedict barn (from the early 1970's)
The Sanford & Benedict barn (from the early 1970’s)

S&B Vineyard

Looking over Sanford & Benedict, Fiddlestix, and Sea Smoke vineyards
Looking over Sanford & Benedict, Fiddlestix, and Sea Smoke vineyards
Mileage Marker 7.28, commemorated by Fiddlehead's 728 pinot
Mileage Marker 7.28, commemorated by Fiddlehead’s 728 pinot
A glimpse of the never-completed monastery (subject of future post)
A glimpse of the never-completed monastery (subject of future post)
Sea Smoke Vineyard have 170 planted acres on the southern slope of the SR Hills
Sea Smoke Vineyard has 170 planted acres on the southern slope of the SR Hills
A glimpse of Fe Ciega ("blind faith"), planted by Richard Longoria in 1978.
A glimpse of Fe Ciega (“blind faith”), planted by Richard Longoria in 1978.

Continuing west, the Sanford tasting room is located at 5010 Santa Rosa Road (9.57).

Sanford Tasting Room

 

Shortly after this (at 9.75 and then at 10.90), you’ll see signs for La Encantada vineyard, planted by the Sanfords in 1995. It produces grapes sourced by Lutum, Chanin, Ken Brown, Foxen, Deovlet, Testarossa, and several others.

The two plots of La Encantada have 100 acres—almost all pinot noir
The two plots of La Encantada have 100 acres—almost all pinot noir

Between the two sections of La Encantada vineyard, watch (around 10.62) for friendly faces on the south and views of the Sweeney Road cliffs to the north!

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(Part three of this series will follow in the next post.)

 

Santa Rosa Road – part 1

To view the amazing vineyards of Sta. Rita Hills, there are two main arteries from Buellton to Lompoc: highway 246 and Santa Rosa Road. The latter is one of my favorite 16-mile stretches anywhere. I’ve driven it, ridden it on my road bike, run it, and walked on it countless times—and there is always new beauty to soak in.IMG_5212

To get perspective on SRH, it helps to remember that you’re mostly talking about three ranges of hills (La Purisma to the north; Santa Rita Hills in the middle; and the Santa Rosa hills to the south) and the two valleys between them. Santa Rosa Road runs between the latter two, with the Santa Ynez river meandering just to its north.

For my mileage markers, I’m beginning on the eastern end of the road, marking it from where the pavement changes right by Moseby Wines. (To get there, turn south off hwy 246 onto Avenue of Flags.) Especially in the morning you’ll notice the layer of fog rolling through the valley, thanks to the East/West direction of the hills.

SRH fog

From our beginning point (see above), you can first see the Santa Rita Hills at about 2.70 miles. Until then, Santa Rosa Road and hwy 246 are parallel, and you can often spot the highway. But all of a sudden Santa Rosa Road bends south while hwy 246 turns northwest—because between them is this middle range of hills.

At around 3.20, you hit the official boundary of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The first vineyards are Thorne’s Rio Vista, including their north vineyard and a south vineyard (at 4.18).

Rio Vista

At 4.63, el Jabali vineyard is on the left, where until recently Richard Sanford’s Alma Rosa tasting room was located. (Their new tasting room is on Industrial Way in Buellton.)

Richard Sanford planted the first pinot noir vineyard in SRH in 1970.
Richard Sanford planted the first pinot noir vineyard in SRH in 1970.

In the next mile, watch for Lafond’s Arita Hills vineyard (5.10), Burning Creek Ranch (5.45), and Lafond’s tasting room (5.52).

Arita Hills

Burning Ranch

Lafond

Just past Lafond, notice the break in the Santa Rita Hills. Through this valley to the north are wonderful vineyards like 3D (think: Brewer-Clifton!), Ampelos, Lafond, and the one-acre La Lomita.

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At this point, elevation is only about 250′, but it is about to rise, driving or riding toward Santa Rosa Park and a view of the gorgeous southern slopes of the highest peaks of the Santa Rita Hills.

(Part 2 to follow)

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