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The Perfect Romantic Getaway on the Central Coast

By February 7, 2019June 2nd, 2020No Comments


The happiest place on Earth is not Disneyland…

It may just be the Fess Parker family ranch & Inn located in the heart of the California Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos. This magical place is a fully self-sustainable ranch that is home to a winery, a chicken coop, a mushroom cave, a vegetable garden, greenhouses, and almost 1,000 acres of roaming land for their cattle, horses and other animals. All of the ingredients used in their restaurant, The Bear and Star at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn, are sourced from the family ranch. This is the perfect venue for a romantic Valentine’s Day retreat, but the ranch experiences are very family friendly as well. 


Photo courtesy of Kodiak Greenwood

The ranch 

In 1988, Fess Parker purchased Foxen Canyon Ranch with a vision in mind: to run cattle, plant a few acres of vineyard and perhaps someday, establish a small winery. He wanted to start a family business that he could pass on to the generations. Needless to say, his vision became a reality,  and surpassed his expectations. The Fess Parker family brand currently owns and operates a 714 acre ranch, a winery, a Preferred hotel in Los Olivos, and a full service restaurant, The Bear & Star

The Fess Parker Ranch is an enchanting place in and of its own. Here you will find happy Wagyu cattle, quail, rabbits, pigs & bees roaming the 714 acres, along with a whimsical chicken coop, a mushroom cave, a green house, & a vegetable garden, all of which supply the family’s restaurant with fresh ingredients. They even farm their own seaweed!  

The Parker family invites guests to come and experience the magic of the ranch through trail rides, led by third-generation family member Katie Parker McDonald. McDonald is Fess Parker’s granddaughter, and a full-time rancher for Fess Parker Ranch – the family’s beef, lamb, and farming operation. A ride through the now-green grassy upper mesa of the Fess Parker family ranch offers expansive views of the Santa Ynez Valley and Grass Mountain, an up and coming venue for wine country weddings. During the ride, McDonald is generous in sharing stories of growing up with her famous grandfather, and his vision for the Foxen Canyon land that grows the grapes for the Fess Parker Winery and Epiphany labels and supplies The Bear and Star restaurant seven miles down the road in Los Olivos. 

Advisor Favorite: Ride horses through the vineyards and taste the grapes with Katie Parker, and then end the day with a cozy lunch at the Bear & Star.  


Photo courtesy of Bri Burkett

The Bear and Star is the Parker family’s restaurant located inside of the their Los Olivos property, The Fess Parker Wine Country Inn. The concept of the Bear & Star was created as an homage to the two places Mr. Parker himself called home – Texas and California. A rustic yet classy ranch-home style atmosphere, the Bear & Star makes you feel like you’re dining at Fess’ Santa Ynez home. To compliment the Refined Ranch Cuisine inspired menu, the luxe-casual service at the restaurant will leave you feeling warm & welcomed, wondering when you can come back for your next meal. Recently, Santa Barbara Travel was given the opportunity to dine at the restaurant where we were blessed with the presence of the chef, Trent Shank, who talked to us about the dishes and all of the gizmos he uses to make them, or moreso invent them. The Chef’s Room is filled with chemistry-set devices that, believe it or not, are used to create the unique menu. 

Chef’s Room

From the

  Restoration Hardware  utensils to the 5-star service, the Bear & Star will blow all expectations out of the water. With quality and ingenuity at the forefront of their mission, your dining experience at the Bear & Star will be nothing short of memorable. The chic ranch style and comfort of the dining room will bring you in, while the warm, smiling employees, imaginative cuisine, and endearing details will make sure you come back.  

Insider Tip: Start your meal with chef Trent’s famous cornbread made with honey harvested on the ranch. 

The winery 

Located adjacent to the family ranch is the Fess Parker Winery & Tasting Room. The winery is open 7 days a week, and is the perfect atmosphere for a unique wine tasting experience. Curl up by their outdoor fire pit and take in the views of the Santa Ynez Valley and vineyards while you enjoy their impressive library of wine. The Fess Parker Winery is the location of many weddings and events, including their own ranch dinners and BBQ’s.  It truly is the perfect way to end your on-ranch experience. 


Photos courtesy of Fess Parker Winery

photos not credited are courtesy of ally daisa.

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