In the snow globe that is the tiny town of Los Olivos, Saarloos & Sons Tasting Room should be your first stop coming off of Highway 154. With the historical stagecoach stop Mattei’s Tavern just around the corner, the building still retains much of the 1887 construction, including the original fireplace and wood flooring.
Founded by Larry Saarloos, this is very much a family business, with son Keith the face of day-to-day operations and a very poetic and philosophical Instagram account (@saarloosandsons). Other family members take an active role, even the kids can be found learning the ropes in this winery dedicated to their creed “We Live to Honor those that have come before us, and to prepare the way for those yet to come.”
Honoring past generations comes in the form of naming their wines after them. Combining interesting grape varietals such as Grenache, Mourvedre, and Grenache Blanc with the standards yields unusual blends that are popular with their many followers. Each bottle tells a story, and their blends are quite smooth and often sell out quickly. A large chalkboard at one end of the tasting room lets visitors know what is available on any given day.
Visiting the Saarloos & Sons Tasting Room is the preferred way to spend a warm afternoon in Los Olivos. For $15 you can order a tasting flight of 6 wines and can enjoy them at the funky bar built out of old dressers, or take your glass outside to relax in one of the oversized Adirondack chairs.
And don’t forget the cupcakes. The only winery I’ve visited that offers a flight of extraordinary mini-cupcakes to pair with your tasting.
A large backyard area is available to wine club members, and available to rent for special occasions. Once a year, Saarloos holds Vineyard Day, an early morning event in the middle of their Windmill Ridge vineyard. With a hearty breakfast, vineyard tours, and exclusive tastings of their not-yet-released wines in hand-labeled bottles, this event is so popular that it sold out in 6 hours after registration opened in 2017. I have been one of the fortunate to have attended 4 of the last 5 years and look forward to putting it on my calendar again in 2018.