Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Wine Country

It is amazing to think a person can drive just a few hours outside her town of residence, and step out of the car into her eleven-year old past. But that is exactly how I felt as I took in my first breath of fresh Santa Barbara air, closed the car door and held my husband's hand walking down the streets of quaint Montecito.

Our weekend getaway in celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary was a beautiful marriage of the past, present and future. We visited picturesque Santa Barbara where we stopped at old favorite shops and restaurants, the historic Old Mission, the beautiful courthouse, and the special oceanfront spot where we were engaged.

I could write about the loveliness of Santa Barbara, about the hike we took in the canyons of Santa Ynez which led us to a waterfall, about our discussions on the beauty and significance of vineyards and grapes and wine, or about the beautiful anniversary gift my husband surprised me with - but this post would turn into a book! So here I will focus on the general highlights of the trip.

Thirty miles north of Santa Barbara is the Santa Ynez wine country where we spent most of our weekend. We had been to the wineries of Napa Valley before we had children, but this was our first visit to the vineyards of Santa Ynez. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast there for the weekend.

Our favorite winery was Sunstone Vineyards and Winery. As you walk through a portal into a beautiful garden and picnic spot overlooking the Santa Ynez river, your eyes are drawn to the winery's stone arched exterior, reminiscent of a Tuscan villa. Then stepping inside you find a Provence-inspired tasting room and walk behind it to discover a cave-like interior dimly lit by votives set atop wine barrels, with stone caves built into the hillside for barrel aging, and a reserve library cellar for their finer vintages. Each of the seven wines we tasted at Sunstone was exceptional, and all of their wines are grown organically.

We stopped at a local market to pick up deli sandwiches for lunch in the lavender-sprinkled picnic courtyard at Sunstone on Saturday, and savored the experience and food so much that we secured the same lunch the following day to enjoy in the vine-surrounded Gainey Vineyard picnic spot. Before lunch we attended mass at the historic Mission Santa Ynez (Saint Agnes). Though the Mission boasted very little of its original structure, the mass itself on Pentecost Sunday was beautifully done (music excepted, if you don't mind me saying so) and the priest a reverent man and good teacher.

On Saturday night we ate at Trattoria Grappolo, a local Italian restaurant serving simple fare and reasonably priced entrees. In the middle of our dinner, who strolls into the restaurant but Giada De Laurentiis and a Food Network camera crew. We do not have television, so I have never seen her show, but I make many of her delicious Italian recipes. My husband had no idea who Giada was until I told him one of his favorite meals is her creation! That was just fun.

When we were first looking into possible travel destinations for our anniversary we considered various airplane getaways to faraway places, and then realized that all we wanted was a simple, brief and peaceful rest from the busyness of a usual day. This trip out into the country, where life involves the careful tending of God's creation in the form of vineyards, crops, and cattle and horse ranches, was a perfect choice. I left the Santa Ynez Valley relaxed and content, and ready to return to my duties. But more than that, I left with a new appreciation and greater love for my husband and all he does for me and his girls, and realized that he tends to us with even more care and protection than a winemaker does for his vineyard.











20 comments:

Kenneth said...

Kristen that is so beautiful! When we lived in Thousamd Oaks, we used to drive up to Santa Barbara on Sundays every once in awhile to go to Mass at the mission and the Sunday art fair. How fun!

Beth said...

oops that was me, Beth

Cheryl M. said...

Lovely! Lovely! Lovely! :)

nutmeg said...

What a wonderful get-away!

Santa Barbara is near and dear to my heart. That quaint place was our get-away during the college years. We spent many Saturdays perusing bookstores, walking the pier and hanging out on the beach.

Fun times!

Lorri said...

What a nice time you had! Santa Barbara is my home town. My mom works at the Mission. :)

Ouiz said...

What a romantic, restful, amazing tenth anniversary getaway you had!

Congratulations on your anniversary... may the Lord bless you with 100 more!

Julie said...

How wonderful... what a beautiful, romantic weekend trip to celebrate your anniversary!

Michelle Halpin said...

What a wonderful getaway! We took a family vacation there to the beach and the wharf and such last year; had a wonderful time, even with kids. You look so lovely in the photographs! Just like you did in college. :)

Mimi said...

Gorgeous photos!

My great-grandmother lived in Santa Barbara, and although she died when I was in my early teens, I remember the area fondly.

Jane Ramsey said...

Beautiful pictures, Kristen! I'm glad you had such a lovely, romantic weekend. Happy Anniversary!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Look at you! So tan! That'll be me on like, August 31st. ;)

Beautiful post. I would love to come out and do a tour with you. My husband's sister in up in San Francisco so you never know!

Melissa said...

Happy Anniversary! What an amazingly beautiful weekend you had. Thank you for sharing it here with us!

Meredith said...

How lovely, what a blast, and happy anniversary!!!

Suzanne Temple said...

How wonderful! Kristen, your hair is so long! I love it!

Cay said...

How beautiful. And you are stunning, Kristen.

Charlie and Andrea said...

Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful couple you are!
Thank you for your comment on our new blog! I (andrea) have been reading your blog for quite a while now and it is one of my favorites, you are such an inspiring and holy woman. My personal blog is at www.xanga.com/anniemm.
Thank you for sharing about your weekend trip! What a wonderful blessing!

Mb said...

Happy Anniversary! I had tears in my eyes at the last line about your dh taking such care of his "girls". What a beautiful gift you give your daughters...a happy and holy marriage.
God bless!!!

Kristen Laurence said...

Thank you, everyone. God bless!

stephanie said...

I lived north of Santa Barbara for almost 6 years while my dad worked at VAFB (near Lompoc). The central coast is beautiful - I remember the Madonarri festival and all those lovely roses blooming near the Old Mission as well as trips to the Zoo (where there is a giraffe with a crooked neck) and Botanic Gardens. (My parents favorite anniversary destination was Solvang - ever been there?)

Brenda said...

Wow, the last picture of you alone in the vineyard is great. You look stunning! Must be the 100 proof air:)