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Two reasons why Santa Ynez is becoming California's locavore hotspot

8 Feb 2013 1:43 PM
Two reasons why Santa Ynez is becoming California's locavore hotspot

In many ways, the Santa Ynez Valley is the ideal community to find itself at the center of the steadily growing local, organic and artisan food movement. It has a perfect growing climate, a community of residents dedicated to environmentally friendly consumption habits and is located in close proximity to many of the finest examples of wine country real estate. With all this in mind, it is easy to see how this community has emerged as the heart of California's local food scene.

According to the Huffington Post, Santa Ynez is quickly becoming one of the country's true locavore hotspots. Although there are many indicators of this transformation - including the abundance of local artists and independent craftsmen - the two primary reasons are its food and wine.

Santa Ynez has been known for its artisanal wine and carefully made food for many years, but the recent arrival of several new small-batch vineyards and locally focused restaurants and markets reveals that this metamorphosis is now well under way.

Bell Street Farm
Since its opening in 2011, this small restaurant and market has emerged as one of Santa Ynez's best spots to get acquainted with the region's local fare and most ardent locavore supporters. The idiosyncratic establishment - it's only open between Friday and Monday and is almost impossible to classify - offers an extensive inventory of prepared foods, produce, wine, coffee and cooking supplies.

Indeed, it is Bell Street Farm's eclecticism and category-defying nature that has helped it quickly become a local favorite. According to Edible Santa Barbara, Bell Street is "equal parts cafe, wine bar, retail store and salon gathering place," featuring - among many, many other items - "excellent homemade granola" and pate made from freshly ground meat.

The venue, which is located at 406 Bell Street in nearby Los Alamos, has become a community staple for people looking to become more connected to the region's produce and culinary ethos. Despite being a relative newcomer, it appears to have already expertly tapped into the community's wide-ranging tastes and commitment to small-batch artistry.

A Tribute to Grace
It is fitting that another of Santa Ynez's recently discovered local gems is sold at Bell Street Farm. A Tribute to Grace, a winery started by Angela Osborne, focuses on carefully made, complex wines that have become popular throughout the region and are available at independent retailers such as Bell Street Farms. Named after Osborne's grandmother, A Tribute to Grace is a combination of centuries-old winemaking techniques and the modern desire for carefully made, intensely local products.