Kathy Booker

Saarloos & Sons Winery Review

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.

Lincourt Vineyards Winery Review

The yellow house sits halfway up the hill, white painted fences contrasting against the green lawns and vineyards surrounding it.  The first winery in what later becomes Bill Foley’s varied collection, Lincourt was named after his two daughters, Lindsay and Courtney.  But the distinctive yellow house sat on that hill many years before it took on the persona that now fits it so perfectly.

As the railroads pushed west in the early 1900’s, they carried unassembled kit homes from Sears Roebuck out to eager new landowners.  One of those, a 1926 Sears Craftsman kit, was unloaded from the now gone railroad tracks, built as a farmhouse around a dairy.  A visit to this historic tasting room reveals wonderful craftsman style detailing, with bright and energetic spaces that make for a unique winery experience.  The views off the porch of the Alamo Pintado Vineyard are relaxing and contemplative.  A great place to sit with a glass of wine and take in the classic California landscape nestled between Solvang and Los Olivos.

As with many of the grapes grown in the Santa Rita Hills, the cool weather allows Lincourt to produce some crisp whites and complex Pinots.  As a member of the Foley Wine Society, I’ve made Lincourt a regular stop when visiting the area, and my preference is for their whites over the reds.  The 2015 Carol Ann Chardonnay (named after Foley’s wife) is one of my favorites.  The wine selection is mostly all Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but the lack of variety allows winemaker Lorna Kreutz to focus on exploring creatively within those boundaries.

Lincourt is open to the public and features lovely picnic grounds, making it a perfect midday stop.  The expansive grounds are family friendly, with an outdoor tasting pavilion that is staffed on busy days, and private events can be planned – weddings are especially popular here.

As part of Foley Family Wines, Lincourt’s Cellar Club provides benefits both locally at the winery, and reciprocally at most other Foley locations.