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Camping, Wine Tasting & Exploring in Santa Ynez Valley

In February of 2020, we made a trip to Paso Robles with some friends. The weekend included wine tasting, a blending seminar, and some great meals along with lots of fun and laughter! Little did we know that just a few shorts weeks later everything would be shut down due to the Covid pandemic. For close to a year restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, and more went from being open to closed three times over. For us, we’ve never gone more than a month without a weekend getaway to go wine tasting so a full year was pure torture. With the latest reopening of wine regions in CA and the acquisition of our trailer we decided it was time to hit the road, go camping and spend a weekend wine tasting.


One of our favorite places to go tasting is the charming town of Los Olivos. After a bit of research, we found a cool campground in east Santa Barbara County called Rancho Oso. Just a 2 ½ hour drive north of LA and 30 minutes south of Los Olivos we thought this was the perfect spot.


The historic campground dates back to the mid-1800s and is on a sprawling 300+ acres. The property includes options to camp in cabins, a covered wagon, teepee, or adobe. They have horse stables and you can do a guided trail ride - an adventure for the next trip! The RV portion of the park has full hook-ups and beautiful views of the Santa Ynez mountains.


After getting settled into our space and hooked up we headed out for an afternoon of tasting. All wineries that were open for tasting required a reservation and were only offering outdoor seating. Since we just had a couple of hours our first day we opted to visit 2 wineries outside of Los Olivos in Santa Ynez, Roblar Winery, and Gainey Vineyard. The setting at Roblar Winery was lovely - is their garden with umbrellas. They offered a nice selection of wines on their tasting menu and we enjoyed a beautiful lunch from their Roblar Farm menu - artisan cheeses, charcuterie, nuts, and crostini. At Gainey, their tasting area is under a large tent, enclosed on the sides to offer a little more protection from inclement weather. The 6 wines on the tasting were a perfect representation of the wines they produce.


Back at the campground, we enjoyed a great dinner followed by a walk around the

property and a glass of wine over a game of Gin Rummy - the perfect end to a great day. After a restful, and quiet, night’s sleep, and homemade waffles we were off to Los Olivos for a day of tasting. Los Olivos is a charming, historic town just east of Santa Barbara. With just over 30 tasting rooms in Los Olivos, there is no shortage of great wines to enjoy all within a 4 square block area!


Our Saturday visits included Brewer-Clifton (amazing Pinot Noirs), Barbierie & Kempe Wines (to die for Cabernet Francs paired with a nice selection of cheese from their Cheese Shoppe), and the highlight of the day - a visit to F2 Wines. The owners of F2 Wines recently purchased a winery just outside of Los Olivos (formerly Bridlewood Estate). The winery and grounds are STUNNING and we were honored to enjoy a private tasting and tour with the visionary owner and winemaker, Max Hoetzel. His plans for the property include an outdoor concert venue and private events in their beautiful indoor space.


With so much to explore in the Santa Ynez Valley, we will definitely be back and a stay at Rancho Oso is a must!


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