Firestone super sucks, Melville is only available on Fri-Sun, and Sanford is super Sideways'd out. I was just at Sanford yesterday, my neighbor wanted to go there as it was his first trip to the valley. The wines from Sanford are 15% cheaper at Costco anyways.

Places I would stop are Brander Vineyards, try the special cuvee savingnon blanc, The Natural I think its called. It was good. We took some home.And if they aren't to busy they will give you a walking tour as well.

Stop at Buttonwood Farm on Alamo Pintado Rd. and get some of their fresh peaches. ( I am going to be grilling some for a batch of ice cream thats in the fridge waiting to be mixed tomorrow. ) The syrah Rose there, a fun wine, and the savingnon blanc are both nice for the price. We went to Koehler, not knowing about it, I had never noticed them before. That place sucked azz. The wines were really crappy. It's on the way to Fess Parker on Foxen Canyon. Fess has some good pinots, just be prepared for a commercial wine experience. Lincourt is another one to check out, they have a good syrah when its good and the pinots are ok for the money. The girls in the tasting room are always nice there too.

Have fun !! And so you know, it was really hot up there yesterday.

I also highly recommend a danish pancake at Paula's Pancake Haus in Solvang if you are up there for eats too.

Find La Superica in downtown SB. Julia Childs rated it one of the best resaurants in town and it's a taco shop w/fresh, homemade everything. Lazy Acres Market has a great selection of wine and food. Ask for Bob in the wine dept. if you have any questions. The Wine Cask also has a great selection but, imo, a little more expensive.

If you head further north, stop in SLO, there is a great Thai restaurant downtown (name escapes me but it's across the street from Woodstocks). Blue and Novo are also tasty.

Morrow Bay has a fantastic view from Windows on the Water (Morrow Bay Wine Cellar is just below and I've found some good prices on Turley) and pretty good food. The best restaurant I've found in the central coast is Hoppe's Garden Bistro in Cauycus. Great wine, great food and a nice setting. I'm sure you already know about the Sow's Ear in Cambria. Wink The Wine Outlet in Atascadero also has some good finds and some reasonable deals.

Have fun! When is that house going to be ready?!?
I stopped at Melville and Sanford. Impressions:

I really enjoyed Melville. Had the Inox Chard. Unoaked and exceptionally fruity for a chard. I liked it and bought. They had just released the 04 Estate Pinot. Good quality for $28. I bought. I also liked the 02 Syrah. Light bodied and immediately approachable.

Jill at the bar was open, talkative and knowledgeable. One other customer, obviously knew his stuff.

Sanford, not so great. Yes, it was crowded. Like you would expect Sat afternoon, but it was Thur. Mostly wine knuckleheads. Was served by the long-haired guy in the funny hat. Now, I can give him some benefit of the doubt because he's probably pretty burned out by now. But here are examples of his responses to customer remarks about the wine:
"One's not better than the other, they're just different", and
"It is what it is"
I was a buyer on one bottle of the one 2002 SR Hills Pinot.

That was all the time I had. Just passin through.
Thanks for all the other suggestions. I was only there long enough to get in two visits, but will be passing through again in a couple weeks and try some of these. Especially Clos Pepe.

Bench, if I took time to eat in SLO, I would not have made the winery stops. The wine won. And yes I love the Sow's Ear. My fave on the central coast. But the way that hearing went today, the house is a ways off still. But someday I still hope we will party there. It will have a good cellar.

I have been in Los Olivos Market, but not wine tasting. Good local selection? I think I ended up with a Spanish wine last time I was in there. Will look again next time.

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