Monday, May 30, 2011

Exploring the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail

The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail features over a dozen wineries along a scenic and winding roadway stretching from Los Olivos to Santa Maria.  Along the Trail, Santa Barbara County wine enthusiasts can enjoy a diverse selection of award-winning Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundy varietal wines from cool and warm climate vineyards.

From the south, the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail winds through oak-studded hillsides and canyons before emerging in the Santa Maria Valley and the sweeping vistas of the Santa Maria Bench, which includes some of the largest vineyards in Santa Barbara County, as well as the sprawling agricultural fields that produce a range of fruits and vegetables.  In the south, daily temperatures can range from the upper 90s during peak summer months to the low 50s in the evening.  In the north, daily temperatures can average 64 degrees due to the onshore flow that sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean eastward into the Santa Maria Valley.

The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is divided between the Santa Maria Valley AVA and the Santa Ynez Valley AVA and features many prominent vineyards, including Rodney's Vineyard, Demetria Estate Vineyard, Tinaquaic Vineyard, Riverbench Vineyards, Dierberg Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Julia's Vineyard and Colson Canyon Vineyard, among others.

From an area once dotted by historic land grants, the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail has evolved into a renowned wine producing region between the bucolic town of Los Olivos and the tract home developments and shopping centers in Santa Maria.  Visitors will be treated to some exceptional Rhône and Burgundy varietal wines at several wineries along the wine trail, including Andrew Murray, Demetria, Foxen, Riverbench Kenneth Volk and Costa de Oro, as well as contrasting climates and vistas at the northern and southern end of the wine trail.

Since there are no restaurants or markets along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, you should consider putting together a delectable spread for a picnic in the vineyard, especially if you want to maximize your tour of Los Olivos and the Santa Maria Valley.  There are a few places in Los Olivos where you can pick up a sandwich and other sides before hitting the wine trail, including Panino and Los Olivos Grocery.

Visitors to Santa Barbara County should dedicate a day of wine tasting along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.  The wine region is accessible from the north in Santa Maria on E. Betteravia Road and the 101 Freeway and the south from either Highway 154 and Zaca Station Road or Highway 154 and Foxen Canyon Road, closer to the town of Los Olivos.

The Last Word: Remember to "Share the Road" with bicyclists, tractors and wildlife on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and taste responsibly!


FOXEN CANYON WINE TRAIL

Firestone Vineyard
5000 Zaca Station Road, Los Olivos  (805) 688-3940
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling

Curtis Winery
5249 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos  (805) 686-8999
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne, Rhône blends

Andrew Murray Vineyards
5095 Zaca Station Road, Los Olivos (entrance to Firestone Vineyard)  (805) 686-9604
Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Wines: Syrah, Grenache, Rhône blends

Koehler Winery
5360 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos  (805) 693-8384
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rhône blends

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
6200 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos  (805) 688-1545
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Syrah, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Chardonnay, Riesling

Demetria Estate
6701 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos  (805) 686-2345
Tasting by appointment only
Wines: Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Rhône blends

Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards
6905 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos  (805) 688-9339
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne, Rhône blends

Tres Hermanas Winery & Vineyard
9660 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria  (805) 937-8451
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Bordeaux and Rhône varietal wines and blends

Foxen Winery
7600 Foxen Canyon Road (new winery), Santa Maria  (805) 937-4251
7200 Foxen Canyon Road (the shack), Santa Maria  (805) 937-4251
Open daily 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10-$12
Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Bordeaux and Italian varietal wines

Rancho Sisquoc Winery
6600 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria  (805) 934-4332
Mon-Thurs, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Fri-Sun, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $8
Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Bordeaux varietal wines

Riverbench Vineyard & Winery
6020 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria  (805) 937-8340
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $10
Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

Kenneth Volk Vineyards
5230 Tepusquet Road, Santa Maria  (805) 938-7896
Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wines: Burgundy, Bordeaux and Rhône varietal wines and "Heirloom" wines

Cambria Winery
5475 Chardonnay Lane, Santa Maria  (805) 938-7318
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Syrah

Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery
3940 Dominion Road, Santa Maria  (805) 937-8418
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Bordeaux blends

Costa de Oro Winery
1331 S. Nicholson Avenue, Santa Maria  (805) 922-1468
Open daily 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Tasting Fee: $7-$10
Wines: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail Association
Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Association
Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail
Santa Maria Valley
Overlooking Zaca Station Road

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