I stayed over in San Luis Obispo for a day after the end of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference—I needed the time just to decompress and organize my thoughts before heading all the way back home. And I apparently needed to take a tour of Mission San Luis Obispo for some inspiration.
Click twice for the panorama.
I love discovering treasures in the everyday, and as someone who grew up on the Central Coast, I’d seen plenty of this mission. But I’d never gone inside, and as I walked by, I happened to notice a crowd gathering for the next free docent tour. Why not join, I thought. So I did.
The docent gave us a brief history of the mission’s timeline, starting with its founding in 1772 by Father Serra.
Statue of Father Serra outside the mission.
During the 1800s, the West became more of a lawless place, which is the very reason those doors have an extra couple of feet on top—to stop outlaws from riding in on horseback. Also interesting is that the mission was made over after being returned to the church’s care once California became a state. As was the fashion at the time, it was redone to resemble typical New England clapboard churches with a steeple and all. Thankfully, it was returned to its roots in the early 1900s.
Inside the building, I was fascinated by the colorful vines and birds on the walls.
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At the tail-end of my 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference experience, I stopped in at Cimarone Winery. I’d heard of them through Twitter, as the winery’s social media (@cimarone) did a great job letting us bloggers know they were in nearby Los Olivos and would be offering a special tasting for us if we ever had the chance to steal away from the conference. I didn’t have much time that last afternoon, having dinner plans in Santa Maria and being due in San Luis Obispo that night, but I fit Cimarone in, and I’m glad I did.
Nestled in Los Olivos’s adorable few blocks of tasting rooms, restaurants, and shops, Cimarone’s English flag and cottage-style building stands out. Why the Union Jack? While owner Priscilla Higgins has an international background, her husband and co-owner Roger hails from Yorkshire and has obviously retained his British loyalties despite starting a winery in Santa Barbara County in 2001.
The Higgins are pictured in the photo to the left. I know, I know, you can’t see it.
My guide in the tasting room, Shelley Woods, spoke highly of the Higgins and of winemaker Andrew Murray, who’s done impressive work throughout the Santa Barbara region. What impressed me most about Cimarone’s wines was the nose—they all had amazingly complex and memorable noses.
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View from Bridlewood’s mission bells.
As I wrote in my thoughts on the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14), the overall value of the conference is one of the biggest reasons I’d consider going again in the future. And nothing can illustrate that better than the one additional excursion I attended the afternoon after WBC14 closed: the Bridlewood Estate Excursion.
For about the cost of a burger in most San Francisco eateries ($15), I added on this bonus trip into the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, which I knew included a tour, tasting wines, and a picnic lunch.
The lunch, all bundled up.
I didn’t know it included a panel discussion called “Meet Your Makers”, which would stuff us even more with an amazing array of appetizers prepared by Industrial Eat’s Jeff Olsson, a chef that every blogger who made it away from the hotel for dinner raved about.
Olsson with Valley Piggery’s Jake O’Francis.
More on that later, but even without that bonus session, I would have felt I got my money’s worth from the event. Heck, I probably would have felt it the moment I stepped out of the bus.
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