Sunday, April 24, 2011

Santa Ynez, CA: Grace in the Valley

santa ynez inn
Santa Ynez Inn
Grace, elegance, and comfort best describe the Victorian era. Opulent surroundings enmeshed with a welcoming warmth, the Santa Ynez Inn embodies Victorian elegance.
Our trip began on the Highway 126 heading into Ventura County. Released from the frantic sense of traffic, the road became peaceful as the views spread out into farmlands, dotted with the occasional oak tree and busy little fruit stands. The miles slipped away until we reached the picturesque city of Cliffside on the 101. Breathtaking views of the ocean, wind coursing through the sunroof and music flowing from the stereo left no desire for conversation as we cruised through the happy seaside village.

In Santa Barbara we exited the 101 and strode briskly up Highway 154 towards Cachuma Lake. Upon reaching the top of the pass, we were pleased to see the Santa Ynez Valley yawning before us, welcoming us to our destination.

...we spoke little and groaned much as we dove into not only our own meal, but each others.

Built less than 10 years ago, the Santa Ynez Inn feels as if it has stood in it's place for over a century. Regal, beautiful, and elegant, the moment one walks into the lobby, the senses are engulfed with richness. The confident ease of the staff welcoming guests and truly making them feel at home for their stay only further enriches the experience of comfort. Our room was spacious, luxurious and beautiful, with extras such as a steam shower, whirlpool bathtub, and a large walk in closet, complete with refrigerator and coffee/tea bar.

vineyard house restaurant santa ynez
Vineyard House Restaurant, Santa Ynez
Once we arrived and unpacked, it was time for the complimentary wine service in the main dining room. With the fireplace lit, the tables were set with crisp linens and fine china, and the dining room was the hub of activity in the early evening. Guests were treated to chair massages, a selection of locally vinted red and white wines, gourmet cheeses, crackers, selected meats, and dried fruit. Delectable and refreshing, the wine service set the tone for the rest of the stay.

A short jaunt through Solvang into Buellton brought us to The Taproom at the Firestone Walker Brewery Restaurant. Feasting on rich clam chowder, fresh chopped salad and deliciously succulent Crab Cakes, we sipped the 8 selected beer tasters and reveled in the bustle of the restaurant. High upon our perch on the deck overlooking the restaurant and bar, we enjoyed not only the incredible food, attentive service, but the raucous atmosphere one seeks when one ventures out for an evening.

We topped off our evening with the decadent Daniel's Pork Chops, served with sweet potato fries and broccolini, and the Chef's specialty, Seared Ahi Tuna. No words were spoken while relishing our meals; only groans of pleasure and smiling nods of agreement as we shared bites from one another's plates. Just when we felt we could consume no more, our lovely waitress brought dessert; Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, with chocolate sauce and fresh raspberries. More groans exhuded from our table, until all plates were clean and glasses happily emptied.

santa ynez shops
Shops along downtown Santa Ynez
The drive through sleepy Solvang back to the hotel was peaceful and serene,
leading us into the welcoming arms of the Inn. We were greeted with a roaring fire in the fireplace, and even more desserts awaiting us in the dining room. We strolled up to our room for the night, dessert plates in hand. Pleased to rest after such a phenomenal day, we found our bed turned down, and sweet cookies on a china plate on our pillow, promising sweet dreams.

The morning was filled with more spectacular food, with fresh fruit, breads, creme fraiche, and homemade granola. The granola, we have been told, became so popular among guests that the Inn began making extra to sell for guests to take home. After stimulating our palates on these offerings, we were served our breakfast, Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberry Compote, and the Asparagus Frittata with Bacon Balsamic Salad. Once again, we spoke little and groaned much as we dove into not only our own meal, but each others.

With our appetites satiated, we headed to the lower level for a good, hard workout in the fitness suite and a long, hot, steamy sauna. Utilizing the steam shower in our room afterwards, we felt refreshed and revived, and struck out to see the little village. Quaint shops abound, with fun merchandise and practical wares for shoppers. After a long stroll in the Spring sunshine, we ventured into Don Carlitos for a drink. Rodrigo, our handsome bartender, kept our glasses full and the suggestions flowing when asked what we should try next.

don carlitos santa ynez
Don Carlitos, Santa Ynez
Santa Ynez may be small, but it had everything we needed and wanted in a romantic weekend getaway. If one should ever become bored with the many restaurants and shops within walking distance, Solvang, Buellton, and Los Olivos are only moments away, all offering a vast array of wine tasting, incredible foods, and local interest. The graciousness we experienced at the Santa Ynez Inn seemed indicative of the warmth and personality of the locals in the area, and it is easy to see why. When one lives somewhere so beautiful, how could anyone be anything but happy all of the time?


Post a Comment