Tracy and I set out on a road trip to Santa Barbara to do a little site seeing and have some lunch. Having left late, we were met by huge crowds and no parking. Wanting to enjoy some time away from home, we decided to continue up the coast and go to Solvang. As we approached Solvang, we saw the sign for Sunstone Winery. Having seen pictures and hearing about their cave, it didn't take much to convince us to stop and see what they had to offer. Driving up and walking through a vine covered archway, you are greeted by a French style Courtyard and picnic ground where people are sitting around enjoying the outdoors with a glass of wine. To the right of the vine covered archway is a beautiful tasting room also reflecting the French motif. Across the courtyard are two large wooden doors on a stone masonry structure that is built into the side of the hill. This is the location of their barrel aging cave and is frequently used for special events by club members. Walking into the tasting room we were warmly greeted by the staff of Sunstone.
As we approached the bar, Jonathan Flores introduced himself and asked if we would like to taste their wines. Who could refuse. Sunstone has two different tasting flights from which to select. They have the "Classic List" and the "Reserve List" to choose from. Sunstone's primary emphasis is on Rhone and Bordeaux red varietals being their primary focus but they do have a very nice selection of white wines. Johnathan began to talk about the history and how Sunstone Winery came into to existence. Fred and Linda Rice purchased 52 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1989. Linda said, “Our goal was to create a place where wine and food could be enjoyed in a picturesque atmosphere." They have definitely captured this. The Sunstone Winery was opened in 1990 and thet were immediately challenged receiving a delivery of what was suppose to be Merlot grape vines only to discover that they were actually Viognier vines. To this day they still bottle Viognier. Fred and Linda's steadfast philosophy is using only organic farming practices and to the highest level. They are true environmentalist and work hard to maintain these principles at Sunstone.
As you drive to the tasting room you will see signs that provide directions to the tasting room and The Villa. The Villa is private and located above Sunstone Winery with a view of the vineyards and Santa Ynez Valley. Built in 1999 this 8500 square foot Villa consists of materials from various regions of France. These materials consist of architectural remains of buildings from reclamation yards, giving the Villa a very rustic appearance with many items containing a lot of history. After listening to some of the historical background on Sunstone, Johnathan provided us with a selection of wines that showcased their winery.