It was a rough Sunday morning as I tried to finish some last minute PR work after an extremely long Saturday, but I pushed myself with promises of a white wine spritzer at a pool party in the hills afterwards. Just as I thought my brain was going to melt out of my ears, my favorite thing in the world happened! A friend called asking if I’d like to go on a random adventure – a ride in his Cirrus SR 22 plane to go wine tasting with some friends in Santa Ynez, a small town just north of Santa Barbara. You had me at private travel and wine.
I went from hot mess to jet-set-ready in a miraculous twenty minutes then headed off to meet them at the Van Nuys private airport. I obviously had no idea where I was going, and somehow managed to walk through one of the hangars and out on the the runway to look for them (which is apparently illegal), but eventually wandered around all of the little planes until I found them. The four seater plane looked relatively safe…but the fact that my friend was going to be the one flying it was a different story. I didn’t even know he knew how to fly a plane, and my obsession with the missing Malaysia plane did not help ease my concern.
But before long we were cruising smoothly over the green rolling mountains as the vast Pacific Ocean stretched along to our left. In just a short 38 minutes, and a revoking of headphone privileges for talking about my dog and kitten who’s names are codes to air control, we were landing at the even more scenic private air strip in Santa Ynez. Driving through the old fashioned, seemingly one-horse town, you would think it was a place that nobody ever goes to, but I quickly learned that that is exactly why many elite and famous people prefer it. It is also well known for the movie “Sideways” that was filmed there.
After meeting up with some more flying friends, we went to the majestic Bridlewoodvineyard for a wine tasting. The white and terra cotta-colored Spanish style estate was set on a hill behind rows and rows of grape vines, that extended far out into the fields to the side of it. After selecting a bottle of their signature Chardonnay, we headed out back past the horse pastures to a charming picnic area next to a small lake and whimsical willow tree. When the girls finished the wine (the guys couldn’t drink because they were all flying), we headed back to go to the tiny town’s most famous restaurant, S.Y.Kitchenfor a quick bite to eat before flying home. I tried to take a photo with a baby horse on the way out, but he was preoccupied with hay and not having it at all.
We were introduced to the celebrity chef who concocted a delicious looking and tasting burratta dish for us that we ate on the two story restaurant’s wooden deck. The Bentleys and Range Rovers parked in front of the restaurant emphasized the restaurant and the town’s notoriety, which I would have never of even heard of even though it’s only a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from LA. Solvang, a small, adorable, Swiss-themed wine town was only about ten minutes away and would have made for a great second wine-tasting spot, but we had to get the planes back before the wind picked up. Watching the setting sun from up in the air was the perfect ending to the most beautiful day ever.
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!