An Afternoon at Folded Hills: A Central Coast Treasure

A recap of our fun and DELICIOUS afternoon at Folded Hills – a Central Coast treasure that is definitely worth adding to the itinerary for your next California visit!

Folded Hills is a working farm, winery and historic home - a Central Coast treasure!

I’ve lived in Santa Barbara for five years now and I’m still discovering new and exciting places every day, meeting more fabulous people and learning about places that I just HAVE to visit. When I attended a Women in Wine dinner a few months ago – celebrating some of the best female winemakers in Santa Barbara County – I was blown away by the strength and presentation of all these ladies, and there were a few who really stuck out.

The very first wine I tasted that night was a rosé from Folded Hills, and I knew immediately that this was a winery I needed to become familiar with. So when the opportunity arose to head there for an afternoon visit with my gal Hana-Lee (from Wander & Wine) and owner Kim Busch, I absolutely could not (and would not) refuse.

The wines of Folded Hills are all handcrafted by winemaker Angela Osborne.

But it wasn’t just the wine that piqued my interest about this place. After all, it’s not very often that I encounter a winery that’s also a fully functioning farm, practice polo field and historic residence. And did I mention the baked goods? I mean, the cookie and Rice Krispie treats are reasons in themselves to make a stop the next time you’re cruising down the 101.

We arrived at the Folded Hills farmstead on a Friday afternoon and met up with Kim, who had come armed with not only the above-mentioned baked goodies but also buckets full of food for their furry farm animals. Our babes loved watching her feed the pigs, donkeys and goats almost as much as Hana-Lee and I loved the giant chocolate chip cookie we shared.

Stop by the Folded Hills Farmstead for a giant chocolate chip cookie the next time you're driving up the 101.

Next was a four-wheel drive through the vineyards, up and over the hills to the dock of the property’s own private lake to sample the August White and, my favorite, the Estate Lilly Rosé. In our conversations with Kim on that dock, it became quite apparent that there are big things in store for Folded Hills – from the tasting room that’s opening up early next year to the exclusive wine club member perks they’re developing – and I can’t wait to see it all unfold 😉

The dock at Folded Hills is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of Lilly Rose.

The Folded Hills Lilly Rose is the perfect sipper for a warm summer's day.

From the dock we headed further into the property, with a quick stop to feed the Clydesdales and tour the newly remodeled guest house before winding up on the back porch of the family’s historic home to taste the last two wines, the August Red and the Ballard Canyon Grenache. I already knew I loved the rosé, but after tasting all these other wines it’s quite apparent that winemaker Angela Osborne is doing everything right.

Folded Hills owner Kim Busch stops to feed the Clydesdales.

Folded Hills' August Red Wine pairs perfectly with a plate of cheese and charcuterie.

If you’re looking to add a stop at Folded Hills to your next California Coast travel itinerary (and you most certainly should) take special note: the Farmstead is open weekends through October and, until construction is complete on the new tasting room (hopefully next spring), you’ll have to call or email in advance to taste the wine. But man, is it worth it!

Until the tasting room opens, you can sign up for Folded Hills’ mailing list to be notified of new releases when they’re available and, if you live in Santa Barbara, you might be able to find the rosé at a couple of our local wine shops (email me for specifics!) In the meantime, I highly recommend you stop by Folded Hills on your next trip up or down the 101 (the turn-off is approximately 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara) – if nothing else but for a giant chocolate chip cookie!

A lovely afternoon at Folded Hills with delicious wine, a farm tour and good friends!

Travel Diaries: Santa Barbara

Hi friends! I hope you’ve missed me. Life’s been just a little crazy lately, ya know, raising a tiny human, buying a house, all that good stuff, but I’ve missed chatting with you in this little corner of the Internet and I’m going to make a sincere effort to be better about checking in.

A beautiful beach sunset in Santa Barbara, CA

Today’s post is one I’ve been wanting to write since January, but it required just a little bit of field research on my end and goodness knows how difficult even the tiniest of outings can be when there is a small babe involved. As you’ve probably heard, Santa Barbara County got hit HARD this winter. First there was the Thomas Fire, followed shortly thereafter by the Montecito Mudslide, both of which caused massive evacuations, homes lost, injury and death. They hit our little towns hard, and an area once known for its plethora of local businesses is now facing more vacant storefronts than it has seen in a long, long time.

While I was hearing about all of these great places being forced to lay people off, cut back hours or completely close their doors to business, I realized that, although I am passionate about sharing my favorite restaurants, wineries and breweries when I’ve traveled to other cities, I’ve never featured some of my go-to spots in my own town. And, in these uncertain times, they certainly deserve to be recognized now more than ever.

If you’re headed to the Santa Barbara area in the near future, I urge you to check out as many of these local eateries and drinking establishments as possible. And if you haven’t been here yet, I think it’s about time you planned a trip! It’s a beautiful little oasis in the middle of California that is truly one-of-a-kind. They don’t call it the American Riviera for nothing!

Santa Barbara

Hotel Californian

Full disclosure: I haven’t had the opportunity to stay here yet, but let me just tell you I like what I see. The entire Hotel Californian property (which also includes numerous restaurants and storefronts) is reinvigorating a recently humdrum State St. It’s beautifully decorated, classy and did I mention their rooftop pool?

Front entrance of the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, CA.

I’ve eaten at (and enjoyed) the first two eateries they’ve opened, Blackbird and Goat Tree SB, and I think the entire area could be just what downtown Santa Barbara needed.

Goat Tree SB - A lovely cafe at the new Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, CA.
Goat Tree SB

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

Formerly The Fess Parker – A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort, I have to give my former employer a mention because there are BIG things happening here. As you can probably guess by the name change, the hotel is going through a huge rebranding. They’ve been remodeling the lobby, meeting and guest rooms to give the resort an updated, beachy feel and I can’t wait to check them out now that the official name change has taken place.

Helena Ave. Bakery

All I can say is thank goodness we finally have a bakery with a legit storefront in town! Helena Ave. Bakery offers a consistent selection of fresh bread and delicious baked goods as well as a huge assortment of grab-and-go lunch options that are perfect for a day of wine tasting or brewery hopping in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

Lucky Penny

Another Funk Zone gem, Lucky Penny is the place to go for tasty wood-fired pizzas, bountiful salads and hearty sandwiches. And did I mention they also sell frozé? You also must try the mushroom bruschetta appetizer. I’m working on my own version to post on the blog as we speak!

The Lark

Of course, I have to mention the hubs’ and my very favorite restaurant for date night, whenever we have guests in town, birthday or anniversary, or any other celebration we can think of. Seriously, we’ve tried so many other “nicer” restaurants in town and nothing compares. Aside from the Brussels sprouts (which are OMG to-die-for and ALWAYS on the menu) the Lark’s menu changes seasonally yet never disappoints, and everything is served family style, so you get to taste a little bit of everything! I also should mention that Helena Ave. Bakery, Lucky Penny and The Lark are all related, so it’s no wonder they all made my list of top places to visit!

The Lark | Santa Barbara, CA

The Lark | Santa Barbara, CA

The Lark | Santa Barbara, CA

Satellite

I couldn’t leave out Santa Barbara’s hippest new wine bar that offers a delicious farm-to-table menu to boot! I love this place for its unique, sometimes kooky wine selections, blind tasting night and veggie-heavy food items that change based on weekly Farmer’s Market offerings. Yoga Pants Salad, you have my heart!

Satellite | Santa Barbara, CA

Satellite | Santa Barbara, CA

Satellite | Santa Barbara, CA
The Spritz is a must-try at Satellite!

Yellow Belly

This used to be our “neighborhood joint” when we lived at our old place, and you can bet we’ll still be making regular visits even though we live a bit further away now. It’s locally owned with a great wine and beer selection and tasty pub-like food. They also offer brunch on the weekends, have a patio (yay for dog-friendly establishments!) AND we feel perfectly comfortable bringing the little babe with us. So many bonuses!

Yellow Belly | Santa Barbara, CA

Third Window Brewing

Santa Barbara is home to its share of breweries, that’s for sure, but Third Window consistently stands out to us. Even with a frequently rotating menu, the beers are consistently top-notch and, unlike many of today’s newest breweries, they are NOT solely focusing on IPA’s, which is perfect for me since I’m not much of a hops fan!

Third Window Brewing | Santa Barbara, CA

August Ridge

I’m so glad I stumbled across this gem of a tasting room! With its main winery and tasting room in Paso Robles, August Ridge recently opened a smaller tasting room downtown, just off La Arcada. Because they specialize in Italian varietals, they’re a welcome change from Santa Barbara Wine Country’s largely Pinot Noir and Chardonnay focused repertoire. I’ve loved everything I’ve tasted from them and need to plan another trip back soon to restock!

August Ridge | Santa Barbara, CA

Handlebar Coffee

Handlebar Coffee has been a Santa Barbara establishment for many years, but its newest location on upper De La Vina Street has everyone abuzz. It’s much bigger than the downtown location, with a great outdoor seating area, a full-service kitchen to make tasty breakfast and lunch offerings, plus beer and wine on tap! They also do lots of fun pop-ups and benefits for local organizations. We have yet to attend any but we hope to soon!

Handlebar Coffee | Santa Barbara, CA

C’est Cheese

If you’re a cheese lover like me, you’re not going to want to miss this stop. I was so happy when what started as a small, local cheese and wine shop that hosted my favorite annual Sparkling Wine & Cheese Pairing Class every year tripled in size to open its own café, only to see it have to shutter the restaurant portion after this winter’s hardships. I have high hopes they’ll once again be able to operate in their full capacity, but until then you can still buy lots of delicious goodies at their shop and support a great local business at the same time!

Carpinteria

The Food Liaison

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty jealous that Carp has this awesome food establishment in its repertoire. You know I’m all about balance and tasty, quality food, and TFL delivers on all fronts. They offer plenty of vegan and gluten-free dishes, but also plenty of non-special diet items…and it is all soooooo good! Not only do they serve lunch Monday-Friday (try the Crack Bowl…it will not disappoint) they also have a stellar catering program AND offer cooking classes. I know where I’ll be eating lunch every time I’m in the area!

The Food Liaison | Carpinteria, CA

The Food Liaison | Carpinteria, CA
Crack Bowl @ The Food Liaison

Lucky Llama

Okay, Lucky Llama is probably THE cutest little coffee shop in Santa Barbara County. Their coffee drinks are top notch, but they also make delish acai and oatmeal bowls. It’s the perfect place to plop down with your laptop and get some work done or meet a friend to catch up on the lovely outdoor patio. Plus, it’s totally kid-friendly, which I’m learning to appreciate more and more these days!

Lucky Llama | Carpinteria, CA

Lucky Llama | Carpinteria, CA

The Apiary

What a one-of-a-kind tasting room! The Apiary specializes in mead but also offers ciders and lots of other interesting fermented elixirs. My dear friend @gojohannogo and I shared the tasting flight and it was the perfect way to take a little foray into the world of mead and everything related. I’m not sure I’d be able to drink large quantities of the different options, but it was so fun to experience all the different flavors. Definitely pay them a visit if you’re looking for a change-up from your average winery or brewery!

The Apiary | Carpinteria, CA

The Apiary | Carpinteria, CA

Goleta

Draughtsmen Aleworks

Our favorite pre-Costco shopping trip stop for a refreshing beverage. They have lots of entertaining names for their beers like Meat & Potatoes Porter!

Draughtsmen Aleworks | Goleta, CA

M. Special

Another great (newer) brewery in the Goodland that’s always sure to have a food truck or live band on hand, especially on the weekends. It’s also got some good outdoor space and is kid-friendly!

Outpost at the Goodland

This hip little eating and drinking establishment at a Holiday Inn turned Kimpton hotel is just what Goleta (“the Goodland”) needed. It’s a great spot for Happy Hour or brunch, and another one we feel completely comfortable bringing the baby to. If you’re lucky to visit on a Sunday during the summer, you might just catch a raging pool party, live DJ and all!

These are all just a few of my favorites, and I’m sure there are some places that I missed. If you know of any, please leave them in the comments below! I’m all about supporting local right now and love discovering new places. Until next time!

Hendry's Beach | Santa Barbara, CA

Fun, Fearless Female Feature: Tara Jones of “Eat This, Shoot That!”

Hi friends! Today I’m sharing a little something new with you. I consider myself very lucky to have made an amazing amount of personal connections with fun, fearless women all over the world. Not only do I call so many of these gals close friends, but I’ve learned something (or many things!) from each and every one of them and I know I can always count on them for encouragement and support. Because I know we all love hearing about women accomplishing pretty cool things out in the world, I want to start sharing their stories with you and hope that you can learn and be inspired by them just like I have been!

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

The first lovely lady that I want to tell you about is Tara Jones, founder of “Eat This, Shoot That!” “Eat This, Shoot That!” offers food and wine tours through two up-and-coming neighborhoods of Santa Barbara with an added emphasis on the basics of food and travel photography. So not only do you get to visit some of the best restaurants, wineries, distilleries, etc. in Santa Barbara and meet the people who make it happen, but you also get to learn how to take better photos of the delicious food and drink you’re enjoying.

Tara graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography & Film with a triple major in digital media – photography, graphic design and film, and started her career as a photographer as many do, shooting weddings. After a while, she realized that weddings weren’t her true passion, so she took a job at a boutique advertising firm. Then the recession hit. With the unsettling feeling that she would soon need to find an alternate way to earn an income from her photography, Tara reevaluated her path and her strengths and it became clear to her that one of her true passions, and something she was very good at, was teaching others.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

Realizing that during uncertain economic times, people would take it upon themselves to perform services like photography, Tara decided to start teaching workshops on the basics of the art, showing people that wished to take things into their own hands the “tools and tricks” of the photography trade. Flare Productions took a turn in its 11 years of operation and Tara began teaching her classes in the Sunken Gardens at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Tara, being the entrepreneurial woman that she is, soon began thinking of ways to continue to grow as a person and follow her passions. Having always been a people person, Tara knew that one of the best ways to bring folks together is over a big plate of food (amen!) She already knew that she loved to teach and that she loved people. On top of that, one of Tara’s friends had just started a food tour in East Boston, and was encouraging her to do the same in Santa Barbara.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Jessica Roy

It was about this time that the iPhone was coming to the forefront and cell phone photography was becoming better than it had ever been before. Instagram was born and more and more people were sharing their photos on social media. It was also at this time that Santa Barbara had the most restaurants per capita in the nation second to New York City. [Did anyone else know that? I sure didn’t!]

In 2012, Tara began approaching restaurants to see which ones might be interested in participating in a food tour. The idea was simple, we’ll pay you to bring guests to your establishment, and in turn we’ll expose more people to your products and get you more business. As you can imagine, almost none of the restaurants said they did not want to participate.

But she didn’t approach just any restaurant; Tara specifically wanted to include restaurants, wineries, etc. in “hidden and “up-and-coming” neighborhoods. Neighborhoods with character, with a story, where they welcome you with open arms. She wanted that personal connection, much like she strived to achieve with her workshops.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!
Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Jessica Roy

When “Eat This, Shoot That!” was born, the first tour that was offered led guests through the Funk Zone. This was at a time when the area was barely even established yet, when hardly anyone knew what (or where) the Funk Zone was. As “Eat This, Shoot That!” grew in popularity, so did the Funk Zone. Coincidence? I think not.

Today’s tour takes guests through many of the more popular establishments in the area, but also to some of the “hidden gems” (tour stops include Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Mony’s Taqueria, Lucky Penny, and Riverbench Winery.) But even the more well-known spots have hidden stories and personal touches. For example, at Riverbench Winery, guests get to sample dark chocolate almond toffee from local candy-maker Koval Confections (whom Tara encouraged to start a business as well) and at Mony’s Taqueria, it’s a complete family-run operation with mom and dad cooking while their grown children serve the food.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo Courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

With the success of the “Eat This, Shoot That!” Funk Zone Food & Photo Tour, Tara and her team have recently added a second tour to their resume, the El Paseo Wine & Photo Tour. This tour focuses more on Santa Barbara’s rich viticultural offerings, and introduces guests to wines from some of Santa Barbara’s best AVA’s. Since the tour takes place in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood, there is also an emphasis on the history of the city.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!
Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

Tara was lucky enough to travel a lot growing up, and she says her favorite trips were those where the tour guide became a friend, interacted with the group, and felt like family. Her goal is to do the same with “Eat This, Shoot That!” – to offer a relaxed, unpretentious environment where it feels like everyone (including the tour guide) is an old friend.

It seems like this formula is working well for her. There are talks of possibly adding a third tour in the future, and she also has a book, 101 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die, coming out this March (check it out and pre-order it here!)

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

It has been so great to get to know Tara and learn more about how she started “Eat This, Shoot That!,” and it’s even better to have a like-minded, entrepreneurial woman that I can turn to in my very own backyard. If there’s nothing else I’ve learned in my blogging career thus far, it’s that a network of strong, empowering women (or men!) are essential for success. I encourage each and every one of you, whether you’re pursuing a blogging career or some other passion, to reach out and build this sort of foundation. Find people who will help you and who you can help in return!

In the meantime, if you’re ever in the Santa Barbara area, be sure to sign up for one of Tara’s tours. I can guarantee you won’t regret it!