Santa Barbara County Wines: Exploring the Enchanting Wine Country

Santa Barbara County Wines: Exploring the Enchanting Wine Country

Fri, 08/11/2023 - 14:48 -- johnk

view of vineyard and hillside

Santa Barbara County Wines

Santa Barbara County is home to one of the most breathtaking wine regions in the world. Nestled along the picturesque California coastline, this region offers a unique blend of natural beauty and exceptional wines. From the urban wineries of Santa Barbara and Solvang to the rural vineyards of Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys, there is something for every wine lover to explore. With nine wine routes to choose from, the possibilities for a spectacular wine experience are endless.

Discovering Santa Barbara Wine Country
Santa Barbara Wine Country is a paradise for wine enthusiasts. With over 100 unique wineries and tasting rooms, there is a vast array of wines to taste and explore. From classic varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to lesser-known gems to the area such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah, the region offers a diverse selection of wines to satisfy every palate.

To make the most of your visit, it's essential to plan ahead. Santa Barbara County's wine country spans over 50 miles, so mapping out a route and checking tasting room hours is crucial. Consider using the designed tasting routes, online touring map, or requesting a printed touring map to navigate the expansive wine country efficiently.

Exploring Santa Barbara County Wine Routes
Santa Barbara County offers nine distinct wine routes that showcase the best of the region's wineries and vineyards. Each route provides a unique experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local wine culture. Here are some highlights from each route:

1. Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail

The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail is perfect for those who prefer a city setting. Located in downtown Santa Barbara, this route features several urban wineries and tasting rooms, making it easily accessible for visitors. Explore the vibrant wine scene while enjoying the city's great restaurants, outdoor theater, museums, and art galleries. (Helpful map)

Au Bon Climat - was essential in putting Santa Barbara Pinot Noir on the map worldwide. Founder and wine icon Jim Clendenen created an international reputation for stellar Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourcing fruit locally. 
Grassini Family Vineyards Tasting Room - Voted Best Winery and Best Tasting Room by the readers of both the Santa Barbara Independent and the Santa Barbara News-Press! 

Jamie Slone Wines Tasting Room - provides guests with an outstanding Santa Barbara wine experience! Recent accolades include Winner: Favorite Winery & Favorite Tasting Room 2019 Santa Barbara News-Press Readers' Choice Awards.

Kunin Wines - Seth Kunin started Kunin Wines in 1998, focusing on Syrah, Zinfandel, and Viognier. Over the years he added additional Rhone and Loire Valley varieties such as Grenache, Mourvèdre, Rousanne, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, and, more… 

2. Santa Ynez Valley Wine Trail

The Santa Ynez Valley Wine Trail takes you through the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country. This route covers the towns of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, and Ballard, each offering its own unique charm. Sip on exquisite wines while exploring Danish-inspired Solvang, tasting rooms in Los Olivos, or the authentic Western heritage of Los Alamos.

Barbieri Winery 
•    Location: 2369 Alamo Pintado Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441

Brander Vineyard 
•    Location: 2401 North Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93560

Gainey Vineyard 
•    Location: 3950 East Highway 246 Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Kalyra Winery 
•    Location: 343 North Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Roblar Winery & Vineyards 
•    Location: 3010 Roblar Avenue, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Rusack Vineyard 
•    Location: 1819 Ballard Canyon Road, Solvang, CA 92463

Sunstone Vineyards & Winery 
•    Location: 125 Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93560

Vincent Vineyards & Winery
•    Location: 2370 North Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93460



The In Good Taste Wine Advent Calendar is back! 24 nights. 24 mini bottles. 24 opportunities to sip and explore your way through premium wines, sourced from the best regions in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and California have to offer! You’ll uncover varietals such as a refreshingly light Sauvignon Blanc to a dark and adventurous Italian Montepulciano plus everything in between. The perfect gift to give or get this holiday season.

3. Lompoc Wine Trail

Head west to Lompoc and discover the hidden gem of the Lompoc Wine Trail. This route showcases the wineries and vineyards of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, is known for its exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Take in the breathtaking views of rolling hillsides as you indulge in world-class wines.
Lompoc Wine Ghetto – The Lompoc Wine Ghetto is a unique collection of wineries, tasting rooms, and production facilities located off Pacific Coast Highway 1 and 12th Street. The Wine Ghetto has about several boutique tasting rooms to choose from - most are open Fridays - and Sundays, but some are open Thursdays and Mondays, too!
Ampelos Cellars, Chanin Wine, Dark Water Winery, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, JCR Vineyard, Montemar Wines, Pali Wine, Piedrasassi Wine, Sweetzer Cellars, Temperance Cellars

4. Santa Maria Valley Wine Tasting Route

The Santa Maria Valley Wine Tasting Route offers a unique wine experience in the northern part of Santa Barbara County. Known for its cool climate and diverse microclimates, the Santa Maria Valley is renowned for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Explore the vineyards and tasting rooms in this scenic region.

5. Foxen Canyon Wine Trail

The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail takes you through the beautiful Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. This route is known for its stunning vineyard views and unique tasting experiences. Discover the diverse range of wines produced along this trail, from Rhône varietals to Bordeaux blends.

6. Santa Rita Hills Wine Center

The Santa Rita Hills Wine Center is a must-visit for lovers of cool-climate wines. This region is known for its outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, thanks to the marine layer and Pacific Ocean breezes that create the perfect growing conditions. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Santa Rita Hills AVA while savoring these elegant wines.

7. Los Olivos District Wine Trail

The Los Olivos District Wine Trail is located in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley and is home to numerous tasting rooms. This charming town offers a wide variety of wines to sample, from small family-owned wineries to larger production facilities. Explore the quaint streets of Los Olivos while indulging in the region's finest wines.

8. Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail

The Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail is renowned for its cool-climate wines and stunning vineyard landscapes. This route takes you through the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, where you can taste exceptional Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Enjoy the tranquility of the rolling hills and experience the unique terroir that makes these wines so special.

vineyard with clouds in the background

9. Santa Maria Wine Country

Santa Maria Wine Country is a hidden gem within Santa Barbara County. This region offers a wide range of wines, from classic varietals to unique blends. Explore the charming towns of Santa Maria and Orcutt while immersing yourself in the rich wine culture of the area.

Planning Your Visit to Santa Barbara Wine Country

To ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to Santa Barbara Wine Country, it's essential to keep a few tips in mind:
1.    Plan ahead: Map out your route and check tasting room hours to maximize your time.
2.    Drive carefully: Santa Barbara County's wine country is vast, so allow for driving time between wineries.
3.    Consider multiple days: With so much to see and taste, consider spending a few days in different areas to fully experience each region.
4.    Designated driver: If you plan on tasting wines, make sure to have a designated driver or consider using a transportation service or tour guide.
5.    Make reservations: Large parties may require reservations at tasting rooms, so plan accordingly.
6.    Check the calendar: Santa Barbara Wine Country has events happening year-round, so check the calendar for special happenings during your visit.
7.    Pack a picnic: Many wineries have beautiful picnic areas, so consider bringing a picnic lunch to enjoy amidst the vineyards.
8.    Stay overnight: To fully immerse yourself in the wine country experience, consider staying overnight at one of the featured properties in the area.




Accommodations in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Santa Barbara Wine Country offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveler's needs. Whether you prefer a luxury resort, a cozy inn, or a charming bed and breakfast, you'll find the perfect place to anchor your visit. Here are some featured properties to consider:

The Inn at Mattei's Tavern: This renovated craftsman-style inn in Los Olivos offers a low-key vibe with modern amenities. Enjoy the cozy-contemporary guest rooms, on-site spa, and multiple dining options, including The Tavern, where executive chef Rhoda Magbitang creates inventive yet unfussy dishes.

The Landsby: Located in the heart of Solvang, The Landsby is a full-service hotel with Scandinavian charm. With its bustling bar scene and the delightful Mad & Vin restaurant, this hotel offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Hotel Ynez: Tucked away on a hilltop, Hotel Ynez offers a serene retreat with oak-tree-shrouded courtyards, a parasol-surrounded swimming pool, and beautifully designed guest rooms. Relax in this charming boutique hotel and enjoy the tranquil ambiance of Santa Ynez.

Alisal Ranch: For a true ranch experience, consider staying at Alisal Ranch. Located just a couple of miles from Solvang, this rustic-luxe resort offers horseback riding, archery, golf, and locally sourced ranch cuisine. Immerse yourself in the Western heritage while enjoying the comfort of this exceptional property.

beautifully set dinner table

Dining and Activities in Santa Barbara Wine Country

In addition to wine tasting, Santa Barbara Wine Country offers a wide range of activities and dining options to enhance your visit. Here are some highlights:

Dining: Santa Barbara Wine Country is a culinary paradise, with a variety of restaurants offering delicious cuisine. From traditional American fare to elegant Italian dishes, you'll find something to satisfy every craving. Don't miss the opportunity to try local specialties like Aebleskivers and Danish pastries.

Outdoor Activities: Embrace the natural beauty of Santa Barbara Wine Country by exploring the great outdoors. From hiking and biking to golfing and horseback riding, there are plenty of activities to keep you active and engaged.

Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting art galleries, museums, and historic sites. Santa Barbara County is rich in history and offers opportunities to learn about the native Chumash tribe and the region's heritage.

Relaxation: Take some time to unwind and rejuvenate during your visit. Enjoy a picnic in one of the scenic vineyards or indulge in a spa treatment at one of the wellness centers in the area.


Santa Barbara Wine Country is a truly enchanting destination for wine lovers. With its stunning landscapes, exceptional wines, and warm hospitality, it offers a memorable experience for all who visit. From exploring the diverse wine routes to indulging in delicious cuisine and engaging in outdoor activities, there is something for everyone in Santa Barbara County. Plan your trip, savor the wines, and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of this remarkable wine region. Wishing you an unforgettable wine adventure in Santa Barbara Wine Country!

Special thanks to Island Works for photo