On the Pacific

Fess Parker, Gainey, and a Late-Night Walk on the Beach

fess parker tasting room
Fess Parker Winery - Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

Part 3 of the Series: Wines of Santa Barbara

Leaving Curtis Winery, we followed Zaca Station Road back to the east and onto Foxen Canyon Road. There, we located the Fess Parker winery. Obviously founded by none other than Fess Parker of television and movie Daniel Boone fame. More recently, he became the owner of the Fess Parker Double Tree Hotel fame.

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fess parker daniel boone
Fess Parker memorabila at Fess Parker winery – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

If you’re interested in Daniel Boone, his gravesite is located in Frankfort, Kentucky. We made a stop there while we were exploring Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail. To read more about Frankfort, KY, visit our sister site, OntheLake.net!

Four Vineyards, 700 Acres, 50,000 Cases Per Year!

In 1987, Parker purchased a 714-acre ranch and established Fess Parker’s Winery & Vineyard.  He also purchased the Grand Hotel in Los Olivos, California.  Now called Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn & Spa, the 21-room Victorian-style Inn is a great venue for dinner, or lodging… or both!  But we were more interested in tasting his award-winning wines on this particular day. (Los Olivos, by the way, is an unincorporated community in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. They also have a wine tasting room!)

At Fess Parker, there are four vineyards that occupy about 700 acres, and total production is about 50,000 cases per year. That’s quite a sizeable operation!   We tasted about five different wines that day. They included an extremely tasty Chardonnay and an incredible Syrah.

I actually bought two Chardonnays that we would later share with some friends.  I could have stayed at Fess Parker for a long while… It was a beautiful day and the winery offered opportunities for picnics in the vineyards. I know we would have really enjoyed that!  But alas, we had scheduled ourselves for at least one more tasting. We knew that if we wanted to be in any shape to drive back over the hill, we needed to head out.

So, we purchased a few gifts for clients and drove back to 101 to make our way toward Gainey winery.

Solvang & Danish Heritage

solvang building
In downtown Solvang – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

On the way, we drove through Solvang, a small town with supposed Danish heritage and a definite Scandinavian look and feel. I had last visited the town with my parents more than 30 years ago.

Solvang still had potential for a quaint feel, but on this particular Saturday, it was different. It was more like the town was giving away $100 bills. Cars and people were lining every possible street and sidewalk.  We snapped a few pictures and left; we just didn’t feel like fighting the crowds.

At Gainey Vineyards

But actually, that’s just what we ended up doing when we arrived at Gainey Vineyards, just to the east of Solvang.  There were three limos in the parking lot that included several whose years couldn’t have been too far beyond the legal drinking age. Our only conclusion was that a certain recent movie involving wineries in this area may have brought out more “tasters” than would be normal.

It was difficult to even get close to the tables where employees were offering samples and trying to describe the wines to the hoards.  Our $10 per person tasting fee wasn’t worth the hassle. Although I must admit to liking a particular red wine (Merlot) at Gainey. A particular actor however, claimed he would not drink this wine on his “tour” of the wineries in the area.

By the way, a certain ostrich farm on the same road (pointed out in the same movie) was also teeming with curious tourists.  No one leaving the ostrich farm seemed at all happy with their experience either. And the birds could be more easily seen from the road…

The trip back to our hotel seemed much shorter than the trip out to the wineries. This was a blessing since we were desperately yearning for some peace and relaxation.  We took some time to unwind in the hot tub at the hotel while reflecting on the day’s journeys. We then showered and discussed dinner options.

Dinner on Our Own Balcony

Unknowingly, we had chosen a weekend that was sandwiched between two holidays. Apparently, everyone in the western hemisphere had the same idea regarding dinner: “Let’s go out for dinner tonight!”  After getting a sense of the wait times (1 ½ hours or more) and fighting the unusually large crowds, we decided that dinner on our own balcony was a better option. And it certainly was.

Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to sample the seafood at Brophy Brothers restaurant in the marina, recommended to us by the concierge.  A late-night walk on the beach did wonders for our jangled senses. The serenity of the Pacific, the cool night air and a nightcap were all we needed to help provide another restful night’s sleep.

A Final Leisurely Breakfast

Once again, Sunday morning arrived much too soon. It was time to head south to Oxnard.  However, before we left, we decided to enjoy a final leisurely breakfast on the open-air patio of the Cafe Los Arcos.  If the salt air from the Pacific Ocean doesn’t help work up an appetite, I’m not sure what will.

A fresh Smoked Salmon Plate for Lauren, the Hotel’s version of Eggs Benedict (Eggs Santa Barbara – with crab instead of Canadian Bacon) for me. Some fresh orange juice and coffee were exactly what we needed for our final taste of Santa Barbara before checking out…  Read about the next part of our journey to Oxnard, CA.

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We launched this website in 2004 after getting married on a beautiful bluff just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, on the patio of a small restaurant called Rocky Point. Since that time, we have returned to the West Coast as often as time and funds would allow, always seeking new restaurants, wineries, beaches, unforgettable memories…“


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