It’s always wine-o-clock in Santa Barbara. From the first signs of bud-break to the juicy days of harvest, Santa Barbara County promises 365 days of delicious wine a year. Our local vintages are respected and enjoyed by refined and novice palates alike, and there’s no shortage of emerging small production gems to discover for the first time if you’re an American Riviera® “regular.” When it comes to the tasting experience, Santa Barbara wineries and tour providers are as laid back and welcoming as it gets. If you’re looking to sip the day away during your next getaway, here are some foolproof ways to do it in perfectly relaxed Santa Barbara style.
STAY: HOTEL MILO
Make the Santa Barbara Waterfront your home base and take advantage of Cabrillo Boulevard’s central proximity to the Harbor, Funk Zone and downtown State Street. When you book Hotel Milo’s Ocean to Vineyard Package, you can let someone else do the driving to wine country, which is located less than an hour away by car. The two-night hotel package includes a chauffeured six-hour Cloud Climbers wine tasting tour. Explore the Santa Ynez Valley with stops at three premium wineries and a gourmet picnic lunch set against a bucolic countryside backdrop.
Back in town, you can borrow Hotel Milo’s beach cruisers for a spin to the Funk Zone, where you can sip and savor along the Urban Wine Trail. If you’re visiting on a Friday, definitely plan to attend Hotel Milo’s signature Milo Uncorked weekly tasting series. The hotel teams up with the best local wineries to offer a complimentary educational tasting from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the lobby and courtyard. If you like what you taste, the featured wines will be available for purchase so you can stock up on some bottles for your home collection.
PLAY: SANTA BARBARA WINE COUNTRY TOURS
No matter which Santa Barbara South Coast property you check into, Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours is a go-to for budget-friendly, all-inclusive guided wine experiences. You can book a private tour or choose between the public offerings: Santa Ynez Valley, Cupcake & Wine or Wine & Bike tours.
Public or private, your guide will collect you at your hotel in a luxury sprinter van to whisk you away to wine country. Traditional tours include tastings at three wineries and a picnic lunch crafted by a private chef that caters to all dietary preferences. The cupcake tour includes an extra sweet enhancement: an artisanal cupcake flight paired to specially selected wines at one of the three stops. If you opt for the bike tour, you’ll visit two wineries and soak up the scenes of surrounding vineyards and rolling farm hills. If you need a break from pedaling, the van will always be nearby to offer an air-conditioned seat.
You’ll visit two wineries and soak up the scenes of surrounding vineyards, rolling farm hills, stopping at points of interest along the way.
The recipient of countless awards and high customer ratings, Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours are a proven crowd pleaser—a credit to the well-trained, knowledgeable wine hosts who go above and beyond to ensure guests have a memorable experience. The guides have strong relationships with each winery, so you’re guaranteed to feel like an insider.
TASTE: PRESQU’ILE WINERY
Recently named one of the “10 Best Tasting Rooms in the Country” by USA Today and one of the “10 Most Beautiful Wineries in California” by Conde Nast Traveler, Presqu’ile Winery is a destination in and of itself. Beyond traditional tastings, the picturesque Santa Maria Valley winery offers everything from curated tours and tableside tastings, to summer concerts showcasing big name acts and dinners designed by Michelin-starred chefs. Between the sweeping vineyard views, the soulful sustainable wines and the sleek modern tasting room, the setting calls for lingering.
There’s always something happening, from seasonal events and fun runs for a cause to the 3rd Friday Customer Appreciation nights featuring live music and a local food truck. If you plan ahead (48-hours), make a reservation to save a spot on one of the daily private tours that allow you to go behind the scenes and gain more in depth knowledge of the terroir, winemaking process and varietals. The Coastline ($75) showcases eight limited-production wines paired with seasonally inspired cuisine prepared by the Presqu’ile chef. The 90-minute Presqu’ile Tour ($45) explores the diversity of grapes grown in the Santa Maria Valley, moving from barrel samples and current releases to a selection of library wines.