Touring the Santa Barbara Wineries

Guide To Santa Barbara Wine Country
This guide to Santa Barbara wineries will help you plan your visit to wine country, whether for a short getaway or a long weekend. Included is information on winery locations, distinguishing features, tour times (if any) and tasting room hours.

There is something about the micro-climates in the Santa Barbara area that are particularly ideal for growing pinot noir grapes. It has to do with the mountain ranges running east-west, rather than the usual north-south. In fact, it’s the only place on the Pacific coast between Alaska and Argentina (Tiero del Fuego)where this occurs.

The resulting corridors, or valleys, funnel the Pacific Ocean’s cool air directly into the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys, Santa Barbara County’s winegrowing regions. This makes the area one of the most pleasant places in California to go wine tasting in the summertime, though the occasional heat wave does occur.

Included in this overview of Santa Barbara wineries are the outlying regions in the county, including the Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Rita Hills.

A convenient place to start your wine country tour is in Santa Barbara itself, as there are numerous hotels and bed and breakfast inns for you to choose from.

You may wish to explore the local Urban Wine Trail. There are some Santa Barbara wine tasting rooms right downtown and near the beach. There is even a wine tasting room on Stearns Wharf for those who wish to experience wine country on the water!

One of the four wine regions in Santa Barbara County is the Santa Ynez Valley. You can reach it from Santa Barbara by traveling on scenic Highway 154 over the San Marcos Pass, or by driving for about 30 minutes north up the 101 freeway to Buellton and then heading east along Highway 246.

Most of the Santa Ynez wineries are concentrated in and around Solvang, Santa Ynez and the small town of Los Olivos. Find a Santa Ynez wine tour.

A good place to base your tour of the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Trail is in the Danish village of Solvang , where there are lots more hotels and b&b;’s. Plus, restaurants, gift shops and bakeries are plentiful. The town also has its own “wine walk”, with several wine tasting rooms all within walking distance of each other.

Continuing east on the 246 and up Hwy 154 will take you into the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley with several vineyards and wineries to visit. Santa Ynez and Los Olivos are the two very small towns you’ll come across with a sprinkling of galleries, cafes, restaurants and inns.

Many of the Los Olivos wine tasting rooms are all on the same block along Grand Avenue.

North of Los Olivos, off of Highway 176 are the wineries of Firestone, Curtis, Koehler, Fess Parker and Zaca Mesa. This is getting into the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and the Santa Maria wineries. You can then circle back down towards Solvang via Grand Ave. or Ballard Canyon if you wish.

Another day can be spent exploring the few Santa Barbara wineries in the Santa Rita Hills appellation. This is another good reason to find lodging in nearby Solvang or Buellton. You can head west from Buellton towards Lompoc along highway 246 and loop back along Santa Rosa Road to see most of the wineries in this region.

To return to Santa Barbara, head back down the 101. Hopefully, your appetite for exploring wine country has only been whetted and you’ll return to Santa Barbara wineries again and again to see what you missed the first time or to revisit your favorite spots.