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.