This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to visit one of the most gorgeous places in California, Santa Barbara County. I have been to SB a couple times to vacation before and I have always loved it, and this time we made it even better by adding some wine tasting! It was combining two of my favorite things: the beach & wine. Let’s just say, Santa Barbara is definitely one of my favorite places.
On Sunday we drove from our hotel on the beach, to the Santa Ynez Valley for some wine tasting. In only about 35 minutes, we went from running on the beach to taking pictures in the vineyards and sipping wine…talk about a perfect day!!
We arrived at our wine tasting at McKinney Family Vineyards in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. We were welcomed and greeted at the private winery estate of the McKinney family. We enjoyed the beautiful property and amazing views of the Santa Ynez mountains in the distance beyond the vineyards.
The history of McKinney Family Vineyards first began in 2010 all on the basis of a volleyball bet. The winemaker and winery owner, Matt McKinney and his father bet that if his professional volleyball team in Puerto Rico won the championship, he could finally plant some vineyards on the family’s property. Fast forward to 2019 and McKinney Family Vineyards is quickly growing and plan to have over 1,000 cases after their next harvest.
As my passion for wine continues to grow, I realize how much I love small case production and the importance of quality over quantity. During our tour and tasting I had such an appreciation for the winemaker’s pursuit in starting this family winery. Being able to go through an entire tasting with the winemaker and learn about his process and vision for the property, was a diamond in the rough experience as you rarely get this opportunity.
The Santa Ynez Valley is definitely expanding and growing in terms of its wine country and as we drove around that day we had the chance to see a lot of different wineries. However, even though it is continuing to expand, there is still a small town feel in this valley and small production wineries…LOVE!
During our tasting we had the opportunity to try a wide variety of their collection and different vintages throughout the years. We began our tasting with some delicious Sauvignon Blanc which was light, refreshing, and perfect for this warm winter day. (And yes, of course we had to stop and feed some carrots to the three goats on property, Billy, Bob, and Thornton!)
We continued through our tasting of the “Siren” a Rhône and Spanish inspired blend of Viognier, Grenach Blanc, Albarino, and Roussanne. I really loved this blend and how smooth and easy it is to drink, I definitely had to bring some home with me! The 2016 Pinot perfectly displayed the ever growing popularity of Pinots in this wine region with a velvet texture and hints of cherry. We also tried the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which you know I LOVED as Cabs are my favorite varietal.
One wine that we were very impressed by was the 2016 “Tuscan Nights” red blend of 62% Sangiovese, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Petit Verdot. This Italian inspired blend shows intricacy by combining these three varietals. The boldness of this wine was complimented with the mix of the French varietals to create a truly amazing wine. I am really looking forward to enjoying more of this wine soon! You can go through their full selection on their wine club section here.
All in all, I had such a great day at our tasting and definitely plan to support this family winery. I strongly recommend you check out this winery, and even if you are not able to go to this wine region, you can visit their website here.