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Santa Barbara Wine Country

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2006 Blackjack Ranch Allusion, Santa Barbara County

Solvang, near heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country

Solvang, near heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country

For the past six years, I’ve taken a trip with friends up to Santa Barbara Wine Country. It’s a very peaceful wine vacation. I enjoy other wine regions, including the ones north of San Francisco. Sonoma County has a laid-back atmosphere and the crowds aren’t out of control. Napa, on the other hand is so popular that the Silverado Trail is so crowded during the summer that you’d be better off walking from winery to winery. Santa Barbara is still so chill, similar to other beach towns that dot the Southern California coastline.

We visited Blackjack Ranch Vineyards & Winery during the Summer of 2012.  Blackjack is located in the Santa Ynez Valley, north of the town of Solvang.  It was one of the wineries featured in the movie, Sideways. I hated that movie so much that I almost didn’t agree to go there with my group of travel companions. But, I’m glad I kept an open mind. Not only is the wine awesome, the winery grounds are beautiful.

Blackjack Ranch Winery in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Blackjack Ranch Winery in Santa Barbara Wine Country

The tasting room is constructed of recycled materials that were salvaged from a building that previously stood on the land. It’s rustic but certainly not a dump. I spent a lot of time wandering the grounds, which were less rustic, more HGTV.  The vineyards range from flat to Billy-goat accessible hillsides.

Blackjack's Billy Goat Vineyard

Blackjack’s Billy Goat Vineyard

The server insisted we try Allusion.  Again, by being agreeable I scored a taste of the most richly flavored wine of the day.  It’s a Bordeaux-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I paid $30 for this 2006.  Currently, later vintages are running about $35.

I opened my bottle last night. When I sniffed, the herbal nose excitesmy olfactory senses, readying you for the greatness to come.  With that first sip, I get sweet tobacco.  This wine is velvety with not too much fruit.  The fruit tastes of mellow blueberry but without being  jammy.  As I go back for one more sip and another, that’s when I taste the depth of this wine.  Then, the bell pepper from the Cab Franc comes out to play with your taste buds.  It’s special.


Map Santa Barbara Topograpghy

Santa Barbara Wine Country Benefits from Ocean Breezes

The winery is located in the Central Coast AVA begins just south of San Francisco Bay down to Santa Barbara, then extends east to the Central Valley.  If you look at a map of California, you’ll notice a swath of land mass jutting west, just north of Los Angeles. Also, you’ll see a mountain range that runs east/west.  As a result of this zig-zag orientation, the vineyards of Santa Barbara County are blessed with breezes off the Pacific Ocean.

The Blackjack Ranch name was devised by owner Roger Wisted.  Roger invented a card game called California Blackjack.  Since gaming was illegal, he had a work around the law by changing the game up a bit.  In his version,  players used two aces, called a “Natural”.  So, technically that made the game “22”, not “21”.  Six years later, Roger took part of this gaming fortune and poured it into the ranch.  In 1997, the winery’s first vintage was produced.

Blackjack Ranch Winery Grounds

Blackjack Ranch Winery Grounds




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