Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wine & Cowboys

Our friends, Graham and Peter started a new business.

In order to launch it properly they offered a day for the media. Magazines, newspapers, radio stations and travel agents were invited to check it out...

...here they are...

...and here we are at the Fess Parker Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. The name of their business is Vino Vaqueros, and the idea is to take a leisurely horseback ride through California's wine country, guided by expert horsemen, ending with wine tasting and a gourmet lunch...

...this trip had been postponed several times due to weather. Finally, Monday morning we got the call that it was on. I managed to cover myself for work and off we went. The drive north to Santa Ynez is one of my favorites, I love the combination of ocean to the left and rolling green hills to the right...

...here are some of the horses ready and waiting for us...

...look! here I am! Me and Rio, as in the Rio Grande, and oh, a helpful cowboy...

..."have you done this before? asked the cowboy.

"once as a child, I can't remember, it's been a long time"...

So, I got the beginners speech: here's how you hold the reins, horses can feel it if your nervous...

I think I saw Rio roll his eyes.

...we're almost ready to go!...

...see! I am riding a horse! I am thrilled! This is MORE fun than when I was a little girl. Remember my girl scout episode Mom? I must mention that all my photos were taken with one hand while bouncing up and down, every sense engaged except for the photo- taking- ability- one. It was hard to get very good ones. oh well...

...look, it's the Lone Ranger!

...there's Graham in the white hat, "how're you doin' back there Lori?"

"oh Great!!" secretly praying that my horse won't do anything crazy. I see my husband has forgotten to do this (pray), he is on a spirited one! Every time Chuck tries to come back to where I'm at his horse spins in circles. I think this is very funny. I can't tell if he does or not. I'm thinking not. :)

...our recent rains have greened up the countryside, the hills were lush, I saw the seasons first wildflowers...

... here is where some of California's world class wine gets it's start...

...I counted at least five red-tailed hawks, there were deer, cows and we even scared an owl out from his shady perch!

... I think our ride lasted about ninety minutes, I was a little afraid to get off Rio, I wasn't sure my legs would still work the same...

...then I heard Graham say, " Time for wine tasting" and I discovered my worries were unfounded. I almost skipped to the winery. We sampled six of Fess Parker's beautiful wines, three white, three red. I liked the Syrah the best.
Listen to this description of a 2005 Syrah " Santa Barbara County":
Dark fruit aromas of black cherry, blueberry, raspberry and plum are accentuated by hints of smoke, black pepper and cinnamon in this big Syrah. Rich flavors of briary fruits, chocolate liqueur, black cherry,blueberry and sweet oak give way to round, supple tannins and a smooth, soft finish.
Oh my, See?
I met some of the other's and we all shared our horseback riding experience. I was most excited to talk to the person for Sunset magazine, since I think it's one of the best magazines of all time.

...we all shared how we knew Graham or Peter. Some knew Graham through his other business here. And some knew Peter through Polo. He is a Polo Player.

... look at this lovely setting! Our group was invited to sample the caprice salad, various artisan cheeses, crackers, fruit and more wine while our lunch was being prepared.

Beautiful wines...YUM.

...everyone had their pen and paper out to take note of the names of these beautiful horses and rider. Sorry, not me...
The horses seemed to dance while Spanish music played, I was mesmerized by the graceful elegance of it all...

...so were all these cowboys and girls...

Lunch is served!

All the food was locally supplied, the beef from a nearby two hundred year old ranch. It was incredibly delicious. You know how food that's been prepared for you and served outside always seems to taste better?
It's still true.

...the sun came out for a fleeting moment, as if to bless our meal...

(and make the wine glasses sparkle!)

... Pete and Graham brought everyone together to say Thank you for coming out...


... the pleasure...

...was completely...

...and entirely...


Thank you Vino Vaqueros,

Graham and Peter,

Lee and the rest of the cowboys,

Jay, Hannah and Amanda,

and Marilyn & Lou

Wishing you the best of luck and Success!

for more information(and incredible photos) check out:

love, lori


  1. What a fabulous day. Sounds a great way to do all the things you did. And as ever wonderful photos.
    Hope you're not too saddle sore now!

  2. Oh, that was my idea of a grand day out!
    The photo of the vines was remarkably like one we have of Hub's ex wifes Vineyard. Could have been the same shot! Will dig it out and scan it soon to show you.

    You looked great, I haven't ridden for a while either, empathising? with you.( And your bottom!)xx♥♥

  3. stunning day out, and loved all the pics. well done for taking your camera along! can't get over the amazing greenery! Looks like great food, wine and company... Hope Graham and Pete do really well with their new business :) x

  4. I saw you holding on to the saddle horn, Lori! These Western saddles are soo good, aren`t they? Yes, absolutely my idea of a great day out, thank you so much for sharing your photos and detailed descriptions - so lovely to visit your blog!!! Good luck with your business, cowboys!

  5. I so so so so (yes really that much) want to do something like that. Its been forever since I was on a horse but you just reminded me how much I would love to do it again.

    Photos are beautiful.

  6. Hi ~ This was my first visit here and I truly enjoyed my stay! What a wonderful day - and I am impressed at how well your pictures came out considering you were on horseback! Thanks for the virtual tour.

  7. I have never been on a horse, I might be too scared to ride one? But I love that vineyards - the rollings hills and all. would love to try that Syrah.

  8. That sounds like so much fun! I love horses, wine and food! Too bad y'all are in CA and I'm in NM! Good luck to them!

  9. ah ah AH NOT FAIR!!!! i wanna be there...oh oh OH my it looks SO wonderful and completely up my dusty horse worn track....! what a wonderful day it must have been! thanks for sharing vaquera. must say, it looks a heap more posher than our safari....love always lori darlin' and ongera sana for riding the farasi! ongera sana. xxx j word veri: saffedle (saddle?)

  10. What a great day that must have been! You were lucky to have conections for such a great outing. Looks like their buisness should do really well if everyone enjoys it as much as you!

  11. I want to do this!! Thanks for posting it, I'm bookmarking the vino vaqueros for a future date with my hubby!

  12. Horse riding,wine tasting:Sounds like heaven isn't it?You must have had a great time and the pics show that.Amazing pics again Lori!!


  13. Wonderful post! We've been planning a wine country trip - we'll look for their business.

  14. Ah what a fabulous idea. I wish your friends all the very best with this. What FUN and thanks for taking us on the trip!

  15. That looks absolutely heavenly. I would love to do it, in theory. However, I'm scared to ride and don't drink any alcohol!! But it seems you had a marvellous time.

    CJ xx

  16. what a great day out! I'd have skipped the ride and rather "tended" the wine

  17. Dear Fire Byrd and Natalie, ummm...yes, the bottom, ouch. But really worth it!

    Thanks Karen, i'll tell them, I know they'll appreciate it. Thank goodness I didn't drop my camera!

    Geli, so that's what that is called! Chuck and I coulden't remember(or didn't know). I'm afraid I don't know much about horses, in fact, exactly nothing. But it sure was fun. You are so lucky to have had a horse of your own.

    Alexandra, maybe you could find an outfit near you! i think you need to go horseback riding!

    Hi Deb! and welcome, how sweet of you to come by. And i'm just as surprised as you about the pics, i was just trying not to drop the camera!

    Bhavana, horses are scary. They are big and powerful and have temperments. Luckily my horse,Rio, was a pretty mellow one. The syrah was amazing, look for it at your wine seller, I bet it's there!

    my frogs, (that's funny!), you probably have something similar?

    Well Janelli, if it makes you feel better i will tell you i thought of you the entire time and wondered how you do this so much. Does your butt just get used to it?? And maybe posher, but yours is def more exotic, and adventurous.DEF.

    xxxx lori

  18. Colleen, that's what I was thinking, how lucky we were!

    SPKarenO, I want to come too! and, oh, you are so welcome!

    thank you Chaitra, I have a great little camera, it is so easy to use!

    Dear Lover, yes, do if you get the chance! It was a great day.

    Miranda, thanks, and if you want to do this, i will stay behind and hold the baby.just so you know.

    Cj, yes, it was scary, but the cowboys made a big difference in the experiance. I'm glad you liked it though.

    That might be what I do next Janet. I might be too old for this (horse riding, not wine drinking). :)

    xxx love, lori

  19. what a great great post and fabulous day out. those horses look good and strong... if i had to choose by colour it would be the buckskin and the paint...but i'd probably prefer one that didnt go round and round in manic circles tho!! you look the part for sure Lori!
    I think i must go for a horseride soon - its such a cool thing to do. Hope your knee is better?

  20. So, did you get back on the horses after the tasting? Thats all I can wonder :)

    Riding a horse after a bit of alcohol consumption might be challenging!

  21. Val, I would love to go riding with you (geli too!) since you know what you're doing! I was hoping not to do anything foolish! ah, the knee, it's giving me concern...i'm watching it. I'm glad you enjoyed the day!

    Life student, we did not, liability and all, any way i needed all my senses! I am not a horserider! but it sure was fun...

    xxx lori

  22. What a great day!

    You look perfect on that horse, too, both the view of you in the saddle and your pics from the saddle. Very cool!!

    California is so beautiful after the rainy season. Those hills look like green velvet.

    Oh man! Makes me homesick. Thank you so much for this beautiful post! And best of luck to your friends in their new venture.

  23. Reya, thank's so much, i'll pass that on to them. Yes! green velvet, exactly.

    Makhema, i'm so glad you enjoyed!

    xx lori

  24. Sounds like a great business idea and a stunning day out. Now, I have to ask... how stiff were you the next morning?!

  25. What a fun business, and how fun to get to launch it!

    One of my best weekends was a wedding we attended up in Santa Ynez....funny, the name of the winery escapes me...perhaps all that wine....:-)

    Thank you for bringing up that lovely memory and sharing yours!

  26. Had to hunt down the winery....it was Lincourt. I'll have to add the Fess parker to my list!

  27. Hi Lori,
    What a great story and photos, thanks for writing it!

    I'm actually a bit jealous, I've been working on some marketing for Pete and Graham but don't live in the area so I haven't had the pleasure of a ride.

    I'm glad you had a great time.

  28. Nicky, stiff? more than the proverbial upper lip.Oh my god, there is no warm up to this either...

    Ah Diana, i can picture it, the wedding in the vineyard, I've been to one also, it was reminicent of A Midsummer Night's Dream, completely magical! I hope you get a chance to try Vino Vaquero. It was a wonderful experiance...

    Hi Tassie, hey thanks for stopping by. I'm really glad you liked it. I hope you do get a chance to go,it really is unforgettable. Everything from the setting to the horses to the perfect hosts. And, ok, the wine.

    xxx lori

  29. That looks like a really good day!
    Fred Smilek is the acting president of the Society to Save Endangered Species. It was founded two years ago by Fred Smilek along with his two best friends Charles and Jonathan. http://www.fredjsmilek.com

  30. The lone ranger picture is very evocative, and the rolling hills are almost too good to be true.

    It's a great idea to have people take a leisurely go-about on a horse, have never done it.

    What a nice day you had.

  31. Thanks Fred, i'll go and check out your website, it sounds great.

    Thank you Anil, yes, it's one of those places you feel as if your in the middle of a painting...very dream like, until you remember your on a horse!!

    Thank you for the great comments.
    xx lori

  32. Oh, I read the post a few days ago and never commented, ran out of time I guess. Best of luck to the Vino Vaqueros, I will definitely pass this along to my friends here in SoCal.
    So Lori, we are not twins after all, I am afraid of horses (and squirrels). But not much else I am happy to say. But I do like wine (was in the biz)!

  33. Lori Lynn, yes! we are still twins, I am afraid of horses. It was scary but i wanted to do it and told myself not to be scared so i would enjoy it. I don't know if i'll ever do it again though!
    squirrels? hee hee,


xoxo lori