America, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Harry, Meghan, Sideways and Santa Barbara

When Harry and Meghan had to find a bolthole out of Britain then Santa Barbara hoved into view.

And if you’ve been hanging on the Sussexes’ every word these past months then it no doubt piqued your curiosity for the American Riviera.

Preachy flavourings: Meghan

Pique no more.

We all know Meghan likes her vino and this is no doubt another reason why she has chosen Santa Barbara, Sideways country.

A Sideways glance

The smell of success: Miles and Jack.

Sideways: The greatest film about grapes ever – the towering Sideways.

Santa Barbara is the backdrop for Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack’s (Thomas Haden Church) Bachelor’s Party road trip.

Our friends in Santa Barbara have helpfully put together an itinerary which follows in the footsteps of the odd couple.

You’ll start your day with breakfast at Solvang Restaurant.

Picnic time for the fab four

Where Sideways nuts will tell you that it was here that Jack insisted Miles’ ‘gloominess not thwart his attempts to get lucky before the wedding.’

Try the Aebleskiver, a waffle-like breakfast ball filled with apple slices.

Wine O’clock rolls around soon on a Sideways tour.

See if you get the same tasting notes as Miles from the Vin Gris at the Sanford Winery

‘Citrus, strawberry, the faintest soupcon of asparagus and just a flutter of edam cheese.’

Our kind of road trip: Miles and Jack on the road.

Next up Kalyra Winery is where we first meet vivacious Aussie wine pourer Stephanie whom Jack falls for.

Now I’ll need to dig out the film again to see Ostrich Land which you’ll also visit.

While our two heroes lunched at Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant with Stephanie and Maya. You too can choose from the Sideways menu.

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is where a pent-up Miles guzzles from the slop bucket after the pourer refuses to give him a full glass..m

We’d opt for a glass of Pinot Noir.

Your table, sir?

Firestone Winery offers tours and a guide, and it is from here that our fab four sneak out of a lecture tour for a romantic walk through the Barrel Room.

The Hitching Post II is, of course, where Maya waits tables and their Santa Maria Style barbecue is to be recommended.

The definitive wine road trip tour… And, of course it’s your call on the Merlot!

Two Glasses In

Wine-tasting for our times

Vino California: And a toast to the Golden State.

Two Glasses In is a nine-episode podcast and video series that celebrates SB’s grapes over two glasses.

We prefer two bottles! And from Roberson’s too.


California yoga… it’s a stretch

California is all about good livin’ but it’s hard when you’re being wined, dined and partied as I was at the recent American Travel Fair, IPW. Our hosts knew it and put on yoga classes in the afternoon which none of our Irish party that I know of managed to attend.

Pity because they have a lot to offer so on this, International Yoga Day, I give you the definitive Califorian experience.

Kitten yoga in Santa Barbara

You want me to do what? Photo by Tranmautritam

Cat Therapy is Santa Barbara’s only cat cafe… but they want you pussies to work hard for your snacks.

There is a 60-minute gentle yoga and deep stretching class followed by a 30-minute cat cuddle session where participants can play and cuddle any remaining worries away.

The cost of the classes go towards helping rescued cats. Minimum contribution $10. Visit and

Who said Downward Dog? Scarper!

Paddleboard Yoga in Newport Beach

Come in, the water’s fresh: Photo by Elise Bunting

Why do I never look this cool when I hit the water?

This is paddleboard yoga and a Bliss Paddle Yoga session is what you need. Balance away and breathe in the California vibe. From $39.

Aerial yoga in SLO CAL

That’s one way to save a penalty: Photo by Loe Moshkovska

For the rest of us our bellies would just droop down.

But this is aerial yoga and you can try it out at SLO Yoga Center in San Luis Obispo County, whose representatives regaled us with their charms on a visit to Dublin a couple of years ago.

You’ll want to hang from the ceiling in individual hammocks and build up your srength and flexibility. Somehow though I don’t think I could ever look this, even in California.

From approximately $18. See

Vineyard yoga near Santa Barbara

Vintage. Photo by Rui Dias

This is more like it… and a perfect way to wined down.

Against the backdrop of rolling hills and miles of grapevine, apparently this opens up the senses and lets you experience the post-workout tipple more easily. Never did find that a problem though.


Beer yoga in Redding

Cheers. Photo by Tembela Bohle

Now you’ve found my speciality.

Pints & Poses at Redding’s Wildcard ‘s Brewing House lets visitors enjoy stretching while sipping on a pint.

I’m good at that I stretch one arm forward bring it back, raise it to the lips and then repeat four or five times.

I’m signing up as a yogi teacher!

Plenty of juicy IPAs and coffee brown ales to chose from. And to think when I first went over to the States in the early 80s all my cousins liked to drink was Bud.

From approximately $15. Visit

Happy International Yoga Day everybody. And don’t overdo it.

And for all things Californian, visit

*Fly Dublin to Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only 4-star airline. With pre-clearance. It operates a daily service with fares starting from €259 each way including taxes and charges when booked as a return trip. Visit