Very early in our wine journey, Santa Barbara Country was a focal point of our interest. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, there weren’t too many tasting options there yet. Memories can be hazy, but we have very fond ones, such as visiting The Brander Vineyard and tasting wines in the barn before the tasting room was even built.
As years went by, we expanded our domestic wine tasting horizons, venturing farther north to Paso Robles, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino and up to Washington. But, we had grown nostalgic for Santa Barbara County. Although we would visit occasionally, we recently decided that it was high time to pay more attention to the area.
When visiting a new wine region, or revisiting one after an extended hiatus, checking out the local vintners’ association is a good idea. The Santa Barbara Country Vintners’ Association (www.sbcountywines.com) is a great resource for member winery suggestions as well as lodging and dining. We really appreciate all of the help that SBCVA’s Director of Operations Philip Carpenter provided to us.
Our first order of business was deciding on lodging. We were looking for a place to stay a little removed from the bustle of Solvang and Los Olivos, but still with easy access to them as well as the surrounding wine regions. Close [but not too close] to the roundabout where Highways 154 and 246 meet, ForFriends Inn & Village fit this requirement perfectly, with the added benefit of being easy to get to the city of Santa Barbara if we wanted to explore the tasting rooms there.
But location was far from the only benefit of staying at FFI&V.
In 2012, two couples – Dave and Katie Pollock along with Jim and Debbie Campbell acquired the Edison Street Inn in Santa Ynez and turned it into the ForFriends Inn. The Campbells have since moved on, but the Pollocks have turned FFI into what felt to us like a home away from home; actually even better since we didn’t have to lift a finger. (By the way, Dave answered my unspoken question that the name was always For[not Four]Friends Inn, as the property was intended for all friends, new and old, to enjoy.)
But the Pollocks weren’t done.
Ten years later in 2022, ForFriends Village came online. Just a very short walk around the corner from the original Inn, the Village is made up of six “tiny inns” in their own little community. Greatly expanding capacity from the eight rooms at the Inn, these rooms can hold up to four occupants each, include a kitchenette and are ideal for those wanting additional privacy or for a larger traveling party. Indeed, all or parts of the entire property are available for large groups and even corporate retreats.
Your day can revolve around what FFI&V has to offer. Starting with a delicious breakfast, guests have an option of scrambled eggs with perfectly cooked bacon or a daily special, also served with bacon. On our visit, our choices included banana pancakes with homemade coffee whipped cream, tomato quiche and chorizo breakfast tacos. In addition to the main course, breakfast includes a fruit cup with yogurt and granola as a starter, along with coffee and an assortment of juices. Rosemary popovers were also served. For the record, one day it was sausage instead of bacon, but since the sausage was some of the best we’ve had, there were no complaints from us.
But FFI&V doesn’t stop there. A Friendship Pass is provided to all guests, which enables them to take advantage of some great winery, shopping and dining discounts throughout the area. After a day of enjoying Santa Barbara County, don’t forget to come back to the Inn for the daily happy hour of charcuterie and local wine; if you’re lucky, you may even get to be entertained by Dave on his guitar. Depending on the weather, you can enjoy your wine and hors d’oeuvres in the gardens at the front and back of the inn. The front porch is convenient too. Your day with ForFriends isn’t done though – don’t forget to bring the Friendship Pass with you to dinner as some local restaurants participate in it as well. If you need something sweet before going to bed, FFI&V has cookies and dessert wine to enjoy. Then, you can finally retire to your luxurious room after a day well spent.
The above all sounds pretty terrific, doesn’t it? But do you know what the best part of all this is? It’s the amazing team that the Pollocks have put together. We want to thank Dave and Katie, along with Kalin, Sandra, Vanessa, Ben and Spencer [who we didn’t meet but feel like we did] for making us feel like we were part of the ForFriends family.
ForFriends Inn & Village
1121 Edison Street, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
Michael and Karen Perlis have been pursuing their passion for wine for more than 30 years. They have had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show them the way and after a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as they possibly could, they had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Michael and Karen do their best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers.