Passion For Pinot

You’ve done Napa and Sonoma. You’ve toured Paso Robles. If you consider yourself a true California wine aficionado, however, and you also happen to be in need of a little out-of-town scenery, grab your corkscrew and fellow wine lover and visit Lompoc for a weekend of wining and dining.

Photos coutesy of Explore Lompoc
Photos coutesy of Explore Lompoc

You’ve done Napa and Sonoma. You’ve toured Paso Robles. If you consider yourself a true California wine aficionado, however, and you also happen to be in need of a little out-of-town scenery, grab your corkscrew and fellow wine lover and visit Lompoc for a weekend of wining and dining.

With the highest concentration of world-class, small production wineries in Santa Barbara County, Lompoc, just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Bakersfield, is harvesting its share of the growing Central Coast wine market by producing some of the finest wines in the state—wines you should be tasting!

Any way you go, you are sure to find excitement in Lompoc.
Any way you go, you are sure to find excitement in Lompoc.

The calcium-rich soil and marine layer creates an ocean-influenced climate that produces some top tier Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and other cool climate wines that are available at more than 30 wine tasting rooms and wineries along the Lompoc Wine Trail!

Lompoc Wine Ghetto

This is the absolute best way to taste many of the premium wines produced locally! Unlike the common vehicle-dependent wine tours elsewhere in the state, the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is a collection of 20-plus tasting rooms all within walking distance! So you can park in one spot, and stroll from tasting room to tasting room. And don’t let the nondescript industrial exterior fool you—each of the tasting rooms has its own distinct charm. Among them, you’ll find Ampelos Cellars, the first vineyard in the U.S. to be fully organic while producing great Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals; Flying Goat Cellars, featuring handcrafted Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris, along with sparkling wines; and Palmina Wines, producing small-batch Italian varietals such as Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and Dolcetto. Most are open Friday through Sunday; some are open Thursday as well, for those who like to start the weekend early.

Boutique Tasting Rooms

Lompoc Wine Ghetto is a collection of 20-plus tasting rooms.
Lompoc Wine Ghetto is a collection of 20-plus tasting rooms.

Outside of the Wine Ghetto but still close by, visitors can discover a number of distinct boutique tasting rooms. Longoria Wines, an artisanal family winery, offers a spacious tasting room, a cozy lounge area, and wines described as “balanced, elegant, rich, silky.” Brewer-Clifton serves up its award-winning Pinot Noir, ranked eighth-best in 2015 by Wine Spectator Magazine.

Scenic Vineyards

Scattered along the loop of Highway 246 and Santa Rosa Road, visitors can meander by lush green farm fields leading to classic vineyards and estate wineries in the surrounding Sta. Rita Hills. Dierberg Winery brings 40 years of wine making experience to producing its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery boasts spectacular vistas of neighboring mountain ranges, coastal oaks, and contoured hillside vines from its large tasting room where guests sip Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, and more. Double check, but both are generally open seven days a week.

Local Flavors

Try the artichoke and aioli at D’Vine Wine Bar & Bistro.
Try the artichoke and aioli at D’Vine Wine Bar & Bistro.

Wine is wonderful alone, but it’s best with food. While in Lompoc, visit Scratch Kitchen, showcasing a menu of fresh local ingredients with gourmet flair, accompanied by a selection of local and regional wines. Scratch works mainly with local growers, fishermen, and suppliers to feature a seasonal menu. Try the SK Hamburger, featuring a toasted house-made bun with sweet onion-jalapeño jam, and the Beet and Burrata Salad with roasted beets, avocado, tomatoes, arugula, and other tasty ingredients.

Also relatively new to the Lompoc food scene is Nikka Fish Enterprise, serving a variety of fresh fish entrees, fish tacos, pasta with seafood, and more. Daily specials like Scallop Almond Stir Fry or Basil Pesto Linguine with grilled shrimp, goat cheese, mango, roasted pine nuts, and bacon bits make this restaurant a stand out.

Sissy’s Uptown Café, a charming café in a historic building, is a longtime local favorite. Sissy’s serves traditional American food and homemade pies. Sissy’s also has a wine store and tasting room with over 300 different wines including some very limited productions and rare finds. In the restaurant, visitors can select from 20 wines by the glass or choose a bottle from the wine store to enjoy with a meal.

Finally, D’Vine Wine Bar & Bistro located in Old Town Lompoc complements its cuisine with local wines from Ampelos, Flying Goat, Pali, La Vie, Babcock, and others. D’Vine recently obtained its own label, to boot! On the menu are locally grown artichokes from Baroda Farms, grilled, seasoned, and served with a garlic aioli dipping sauce. We recommend you order the artisan, wafer-thin crust pizzas, too!

Destination Lompoc

Lompoc’s valley setting, surrounded by spectacular rolling hills and vineyards, creates an invitation for visitors to detour off the main road, and discover what’s around the bend for a charming weekend away from the grind. Lompoc’s spectacular weather makes it a year-round destination for wine tasting, as well as golf, skydiving, biking, hiking and nearby surfing at Jalama Beach. In Old Town Lompoc, visitors will find big murals adorning buildings and alleyways, museums, and other local treasures.

To learn more about Lompoc wineries, other attractions, and hotels, visit www.explorelompoc.com.

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