Posted October 2005
Santa Barbara, CA Wine Tours Taken Sideways
When folks in Buellton, CA heard about a little-known author writing a novel about their town, they were a bit under whelmed. Rex Pickett, who penned Sideways, would often visit Santa Barbara’s nearby wine country, chatting with locals and telling them he was writing a book about the wine country. But it wasn’t until movie scouts came to town that the owner of the now-famous Hitching Post 2, Frank Ostini, really knew something big was about to happen. Really big.
Though the wineries in Santa Ynez, Santa Maria, Los Olivos, Buellton and Lompoc have been quietly gaining influence for the last 20 years or so, it wasn’t until Hollywood came to town that this noteworthy Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-growing region got major national exposure.
The film’s main characters, Miles and Jack, spend a week tasting wine, eating, golfing and having some rather complicated romantic interludes that inevitably involve more eating and drinking—especially of the region’s emerging Pinot Noirs.
Many local businesses are taking advantage of the interest sparked by the movie, offering Sideways packages that include everything from maps to replica dinners, hotel stays and winery tours.
But whether or not you’re a fan of Jack, Miles and the rest of the Sideways characters, there’s plenty for visitors to do-- from windmill spotting in the Danish town of Solvang to ostrich-riding, golfing, beach-tripping and, of course, sipping through the ever-growing list of wineries in the region.
Parker Winery: One of the largest and most popular
wineries in Foxen Canyon, Fess Parker is owned by former Hollywood
icon, Fess Parker (of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett fame). A savvy
real-estate investor, Parker purchased the 714 acre Santa Ynez ranch
in 1987, building a large-scale winery, restaurant, inn and spa on
the property. The winery, open less than a decade, has built a reputation
for Pinot Noir and Syrah. The winery also offers a value-priced red
blend, “Frontier Red” for $10. Called “Frass Canyon” in
the film, it is the spot where Miles drinks the spit bucked after a pourer
refuses to serve him a full glass of wine. The winery, seeing brisk business
from Sideways fans, has distanced themselves from the association with Frass
by humorous t-shirts with the slogan, “You bet your (image of a donkey’s
posterior) we’re not Frass.”
WHERE THEY ATE:
AJ Spurs: Though cowboy and chuck wagon decor
speaks more to sidling up to the bar for a shot of tequila—or at least a beer—this
casual-dining outpost and saloon has an extensive wine list highlighting
many local producers. The menu features mostly steaks, ribs and hearty
In the movie, you’ll hear the characters at the bar ask for
a “Highliner”—those in the know will recognize
it as the restaurant’s own brand of Pinot Noir from its Hartley
Ostini Hitching Post Winery. Within walking distance of their
hotel, Jack and Miles spend several evenings chatting with the bartender,
eating dinner and flirting with Maya, the waitress who gains Miles’ affection.
Solvang Restaurant: Become an honorary Dane for the day in Solvang, a transplanted European hamlet with flower-lined streets, and all the Aebelskiver you can eat. Originally a small colony of Danish immigrants, the tiny town of Solvang held onto its customs and traditions, including traditional Danish architecture, foods, and celebrations. Today, tourists can experience the Old World charm of Europe in a town spotted with windmills and tulips…all within a few minutes of the Santa Ynez vineyards.
The Solvang Restaurant is a favorite breakfast spot famous for their tiny ball-like pancakes called Aebelskiver. Topped with raspberry jam and served up with a side of Danish sausage, they’re a perfect way to get the morning started. Though it just got a cameo in the movie, Miles and Jack share a cup of coffee at the restaurant.
Solvang Restaurant, 1672 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, (805) 688.4645, www.solvangrestaurant.com
Los Olivos Café and Wine Merchant: You’ll find locals lining up for this popular upscale eatery that features many local wines and regional dishes. Menu items include chicken, sandwiches and pizzas for lunch and Mediterranean-influenced entrees like chicken parmigiana, pasta and salmon for dinner. Don’t miss the chocolate scream dessert: homemade vanilla ice cream, a flourless chocolate cake and caramel sauce.
Los Olivos Café and Wine Merchant 2879 Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, (888) WINES4U
WHERE THEY SLEPT:
Days Inn Buellton: Home of the big windmill, the Days Inn Buellton isn’t particularly fancy—your standard motel with a pool, cable tv and an ice machine. The big appeal is the star-factor…the hotel is featured prominently in the movie, specifically Jack and Miles’ room, #234, which is constantly booked.
114 E. Hwy 246, Buellton, (805) 688.8448.
Photography courtesy of the Santa Barbara CVB
[an error occurred while processing this directive]