Summertime Drinks: Whites and Pinks
Exploring the Central Coast’s best summer wines
By Don Sonderling
After a rather overcast spring along the Central Coast, we’re ready for a sun-drenched summer! Lounging by the pool, backyard grilling, picnicking, concert-going — this calls for whites and pinks. Wines, that is.
Central Coast winemakers offer up an amazing selection of these wines to fit every taste and budget. Plan a road trip to visit some of the creative boutique winemakers from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles, and points in between. Sip elegant, fun whites and rosés for your summertime pleasure, then take some home. There are hundreds of wineries and tasting rooms awaiting your exploration along the Central Coast, on or conveniently close to California’s Highway 101. Below is a small sample of what lies ahead, but no matter where you go, your palate is sure to discover exciting new libations.
Start in Santa Barbara and work your way north as we blaze a trail through the Central Coast to find those super sippable summery drinks (whites and pinks!).
Santa Barbara County
Margerum Winery Tasting Room, in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, may be your first stop. Explore award-winning wines from iconic winemaker Doug Margerum. Single varietals include Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Riesling, and Viognier. Then try some blends, like M5 — a Rhône blend consisting of five different grapes — and Trois Blondes, a three-varietal blend. And let’s not forget their delicate Rosé, a perfect summertime sipper.
Margerum is just one of a dozen tasting rooms along the The Funk Zone, so take your time and explore!
Next, head north up to Lompoc, and visit Camins 2 Dreams. Here you will meet a superstar winemaking couple, Tara Gomez and her wife Mireia Taribo. Mireia, Spanish-born and raised, and Tara, a member of the Central Coast Chumash tribe, are quite the dynamic duo with an incredible story in their winemaking journey. Growing in popularity, but not widely available, you can’t help but love their Grüner Veltliner, a Spanish varietal that is becoming more popular. We also love their Albariño (another Spanish grape), and their Rosé in a can, perfect for that summertime picnic in the park or outdoor concert!
Time permitting, pop into a few of the other tasting rooms in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto and sip away.
Leaving Lompoc, drive east on Highway 246 to the 101, then head north to the wine town of Los Olivos. This puts you in the midst of the Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Los Olivos alone has about 30 tasting rooms and is a great place to explore. You’ll want to visit Larry Schaffer at Tercero Wines. “Unique and lesser-known varietals” is Larry’s tagline, but you will find a great variety of whites and rosés here, too, including single varietals such as Clairette Blanche, Malvasia Bianca, Roussanne, Marsanne, some very enticing blends, and of course pinks! Don’t forget to make time for the town’s many other tasting rooms.
The SLO Coast
Getting back on the 101, head north and connect to Highway 1 to explore the SLOCOAST AVA (San Luis Obispo), which includes Edna Valley. This new AVA is home to dozens of wonderful wineries. Given the influence of the coastal weather and terroir, you will encounter appealing whites just about anywhere you go.
Here are just a few you may want to seek out, while perhaps stopping at other wineries along the road. Talley Vineyards, in Edna Valley, boasts a history dating back to 1948. Their wines have been served at the White House, and in 2021, Talley was named one of the top 100 wineries in the world by Wine and Spirits Magazine. In addition to a beautiful selection of Chardonnays, you may enjoy a Grüner Veltliner and an elegant (first release) Rosé of Grenache. Adding to the experience is the view from their beautiful tasting room.
As you leisurely meander your way back to the coast, leave time to stop at some of the other wineries. Returning to the 101, head north. In picturesque Morro Bay, visit Absolution Cellars to sample Dirk Neumann’s summer wines, including Trebbiano, Clairette Blanche, and his Rosé of Angelico. You won’t be disappointed.
Continue along the coast towards Cambria. Just a little way inland, you’ll want to visit Stolo Family Vineyards. In addition to their Sauvignon Blanc, enjoy trying their Gewürztraminer, plus coastal climate Chardonnays and pinks.
From Cambria, take the scenic drive over Highway 46, reconnecting to the 101 and Paso Robles.
While in his mid-20s, Anthony Yount was already on the path to becoming a winemaker of distinction when he introduced his label, Kinero Cellars. The focus was a selection of whites (and pink, of course). Anthony’s wines are complex, intriguing, and very sippable! He is a trailblazer, being perhaps the first Paso winemaker to introduce a line of all white wines (in 2008). If you can snag a bottle or two, you won’t be disappointed; his whites and pinks are summertime favorites!
Making wine isn’t rocket science, is it? Dave McGee of Monochrome Wines uses all the scientific and deductive skills he developed over the years — many spent in the aerospace industry — to create a superb, award-winning line of all white wines. His goal was to establish a selection of whites that would stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of reds. Now in his seventh vintage, Dave consistently receives accolades with scores in the high 90s from the industry’s most respected magazines. Recently, his Sense of Out of Place (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay) was featured in Forbes Magazine. Sip, taste, and take home some of Dave’s eclectic, exciting blends.
Nancy Ulloa started Ulloa Cellars with a dream and a passion. Having recently released her fourth vintage, Ulloa is another select, small-production winery specializing in white wines. With such interesting grapes that include Verdejo, Sèmillon, and Grüner Veltliner, Nancy’s wines are in a category by themselves. Nancy was the first Latina winemaker with her own brand in Paso Robles. Don’t miss a chance to sip and explore these wines with Nancy.
From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles and points in between, you will discover exciting whites and Rosés featuring grapes originating from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, and other areas. Prepare to discover unique wine regions, marveling at grapes you may not be familiar with while enhancing your summertime gatherings with beautiful, eclectic, whites and pinks.
Don Sonderling is a freelance writer covering California’s Wine Country Lifestyle, from the Central Coast up through the Napa Valley and Sonoma. He may be reached at: email@example.com