Mix one part Tuscany with one part small town America and you get Los Olivos-one of the most charming towns in California.  Maybe it's the climate, maybe it's the bucolic views of the vineyards and stables ( most likely it's the fantastic wine), you just can’t help but feel immediately relaxed and at ease while strolling through the town's Grand Avenue. Tripper Greg Rikaart, a born and bred New Yorker, moved out to L.A. to pursue acting some fifteen years ago.You may know him from The Young and the Restless where he has been playing the part of Kevin Fisher since 2003. We know him as someone to ask for all the latest and greatest spots to eat and visit in Southern California.

Tripper Tips:

Los Olivos is one of five communities that make up the Santa Ynez Valley and is a short 25-minute drive from Santa Barbara. Why not combine a day or two with a trip to Santa Barbara or Los Angeles!

The movie Sideways put nearby Solvang on the wine travelers map, if you’re a fan you might find a tour of the movie’s locations fun.

Fan of lavender? Visit Clairmont Farms and bring back some organic oil from this family owned farm. June and July are peak blooming season-picture fields and fields of lavender!

Warm Up: Start your morning by doing something good for your heart.  I don't mean wine tasting, that comes later!  Biking through a very navigable downtown in the morning hours is a great way to really capture the beauty of Los Olivos.  (As is a horseback ride by Vino Vaqueros Horseback Riding Tours.)  If you prefer to stay indoors, check out Bilancia Pilate’s studio and really earn that wine you'll be drinking later. 

Caffeine: Afterwards, grab the morning paper and walk over to Corner House Coffee for a latte and a breakfast sandwich.  The staff is amiable, the coffee is stellar and a seat at an outdoor table facing Stafford's Chocolates, located in this really fun water tower, is a must. You can drink your coffee and chart how quickly your willpower to not grab a piece of chocolate wilts away.   

Relax: It's been a tough morning. You've exercised, read the paper, had coffee and chocolate.  Now you're ready to relax.  Book yourself a facial or massage at the Spa at the Fess Parker located right on Grand Avenue, less than a five-minute walk from Corner House Coffee.  

Drink Up: Ok, now that you're relaxed you are ready to experience the great wine tastings that the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer.  One option is to stay right in Los Olivos and walk to one of more than thirty wineries/tasting rooms.  Knowledgeable, friendly staff awaits.  Favorites in town include Refugio and J. Ludlow.  

Touring:  You may prefer to jump in your car, or better yet, hire a driver from losolivoslimo to see some wineries a short drive away. Don’t forget to pick up some cheese, charcuterie and bread at the Los Olivos Grocery. Your first stop is Bridlewood Estates.  Located a few minutes away, in Santa Ynez, the qualities of the Pinot Noirs are only matched by the beautiful grounds.  Enjoy your picnic lunch and wine, stroll through the property and maybe even be an inadvertent wedding crasher. Other notable wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley, worthy of checking out, include BabcockMelvilleFoleySanford and Rideau.  The selections of oils and vinegars at Foley are fantastic and trying some vanilla ice cream with berries and balsamic is a must.  

Pre Dinner: Start off with a cocktail at Petros, in the lobby of the stunning, recently renovated Fess Parker Inn.  Grab a cozy seat near the fireplace and afterwards take the thirty-second stroll across the street to the lovely Los Olivos Cafe. (Sides HardwarePetros, and Mattei’s are all fantastic, but I prefer Los Olivos.) 

Mangia: The menu tells you just where the wild and organic (when possible) ingredients have come from, and it’s all right near by. Talk about local. The food is always phenomenal and the atmosphere is casual and romantic.  It's the perfect way to end this perfect, tipsy day in Los Olivos. 

 - 10.17.14

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