Before beginning our quest for more California wine, we turned north at Ventura and headed north toward Santa Barbara on Highway-101 and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean opened up in front of us.
After ooh-ing and aah-ing for about 25 miles, we started up into the hills to Cachuma Lake. Like most water projects in California, this lake was rather low but still offered scenic views all around.
The campground is quite large with just about every type of site you can imagine. As the literature states, “if you can park it, you can camp it.” The layout of the campground is rather confusing and spread out in seemingly random directions. Many pads were old, seriously broken and not very level. That being said, the atmosphere was quite nice. Cell service was OK. Bathrooms were dated but clean with coin-operated showers.
The Nature Center wasn’t large but very informative, containing a great deal of the history of the area and the project that created the dam/lake. The local flora and fauna had their space, too and we were rather taken by a display of pine cones. Key take away: big trees have big cones. Above is an example of a Coulter Pine cone. They are the heaviest of any pine tree in the world topping out at about 11 pounds. The trees can grow to 80-90 feet tall. Imagine one those falling on your head.
Wine Tasting/Buying/Drinking (Part 1)
We concentrated our search for wine on the first few days around Santa Maria, the Santa Ynez Valley and the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. We did not come away empty-handed! We are dry white wine lovers and the area is full of small batch producers (many times less than 100 cases) that do not sell anywhere outside the local area. In Lompoc, some of the tasting areas have room for just a handful of people at a time but we never felt hurried to move on. We had plenty of time to talk sellers and sometimes makers and it was a great time. Often, we left with suggestions for another stop. An if you like this, you should go here experience.
Some of our favorites from days 1 and 2: Zotovich, Transcend, Fiddlehead