Local vintners have outdone themselves yet again with an incredible line-up of outdoor wine tasting experiences in Santa Barbara. Be they overlooking rolling hills and vineyards in wine country or prime patio perches just steps from the beach in downtown Santa Barbara, vintners have created fresh, alfresco experiences that are just as enjoyable as ever.
To help you plan a perfect day—or better yet, several days—of wine tasting along the Urban Wine Trail and in Santa Barbara wine country, use this guide as your checklist to sip and savor.
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Prep & Plan
No matter which wine tasting area you decide to visit, advanced planning is recommended to ensure you have the best experience possible. Reservations are recommended, and in some cases, required. If you are traveling with children or a dog, call ahead to confirm they are permitted and learn about any restrictions. Some family-friendly wineries are requiring children not to leave the table during the tasting, which might not be ideal for young ones with energy to burn. The same goes for dogs on the leash remaining tableside.
As always, drinking and driving is a no-no, so pick a designated driver or hire a tour company that can do the driving (and planning) for you.
Where to Sip & Savor
Now that you know the rules of the road, it’s time to design your ideal itinerary. Use the wine guide below to discover wineries offering exemplary outdoor tasting experiences by location. These include neighborhoods in Santa Barbara as well as the distinctive wine regions over the hill in wine country.
The Presidio District
El Paseo, Southern California’s very first shopping center dating back to the 1920s, is home to an impressive collection of boutique wineries in downtown Santa Barbara’s Presidio District. The historic, open-air complex lent itself to expanding seating areas in the lovely courtyards between buildings.
Taste the masterpieces of winemaking legend Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat. While walk-ins are welcome if space is available. Or, use their easy online booking system to make reservations for tastings every day of the week.Learn More
Sit for a full-service tasting at Happy Canyon Vineyard, whose wines showcase the terroir of Santa Barbara wine country’s hottest growing region. Reservations can be made directly through their website. Learn More
Grassini Family Vineyards is pouring their Estate and Red Wine Flights on their patio and courtyard spaces now appointed with attractive wooden tables. While reservations are not needed, they are recommended. Learn More
Become a member of the family when visiting Sevtap Winery in downtown Santa Barbara. Located on a sunny block of E. Canon Perdido Street, Sevtap Winery offers guests small-batch wines with big flavors and family-style tapas to pair. Say hello to winemaker Art Sevtap, owner and winemaker who’s usually in attendance during tasting room hours, Wednesday through Sunday. No reservations are needed and customers are seated first, come first serve. Learn More
Photo Credit: Instagram via @sevtapsb
The Funk Zone
Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail originated in The Funk Zone neighborhood, so it has a large number of tasting rooms in a relatively small footprint of 13 blocks between lower State Street, Cabrillo Boulevard, Garden Street and Montecito Street.
Margerum Wine Company and Barden Wines brought the elegance of their Hotel Californian tasting room to the red-tiled sidewalk out front and introduced a menu of gourmet level bites and pizzas. They are not taking reservations, so it’s first-come, first-served. Learn More
Also located in the Hotel Californian complex, reservations are recommended at the new J. Wilkes Tasting Room. Cheese and charcuterie boards perfectly complement the wines—as does the people watching on State Street! Learn More
The Valley Project is another great place to get the lay of Santa Barbara’s winegrowing land with a patio tasting structured around Santa Barbara County’s six American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Learn More
Get a taste of Santa Barbara County’s finest wines when visiting the Santa Barbara Wine Collective. Home to a collection of local labels, this multi-vintner tasting room highlights the unique and diverse characteristics of the Santa Barbara terroir. Their expansive patio invites you and your crew to sit down and sip for a while. Learn More
Photo Credit: Instagram via @alibeckphoto + @sbwinecollective
The Haley Corridor neighborhood stretches from State Street to Milpas Streets between West Cota and Montecito Streets. It’s easily accessed on foot from downtown State Street and the Funk Zone, too.
Folded Hills Estate Tasting Room & Winery at the Homestead is the first winery accessed just beyond the Gaviota coast as Highway 101 bends inland. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome for tastings set in their refined ranch atmosphere. Learn More
Over in Los Olivos, Zaca Mesa Winery is a longtime staple of the region’s winemaking legacy dating back to 1973. Daily tastings take place at good old-fashioned picnic tables and appointments are encouraged. Learn More
Mosey on over to Los Alamos to taste Casa Dumetz Wines’ on the spacious garden patio adjacent to Babi’s Beer Emporium—and yes, that means beer and cider are also on the menu! Appointments are required Monday through Wednesday but walk-ins are welcome Thursday through Sunday. Learn More
Photo by @casadumetzwines via Instagram
Santa Maria & Lompoc Valley
Some of Santa Barbara Wine Country’s oldest vineyards and most revered pinot noirs and chardonnays come from grapes grown in the Santa Maria and Lompoc Valleys.
Note: Santa Maria and LompocValley are approximately 50-55 miles from downtown Santa Barbara and generally take about 60-70 minutes to reach by car.
Take in sweeping views of the Santa Maria Valley at Presqu’ile Winery, who are welcoming guests by appointment Wednesday through Sunday for their Food+Wine Experience. You’ll want to linger on their vast patio and terrace while savoring the “Mezze Picnic” prepared by Chef Julie Simon using the bounty from their garden onsite and ingredients sourced from local purveyors. Learn More
Certified sustainable Riverbench Vineyard & Winery is a leading producer of sparkling wines, and you can taste at the source at their original Foxen Canyon property on the Sisquoc River. Choose between a 60-minute wine-only tasting or a 90-minute wine country picnic and tasting, with advance reservations bookable through Tock. Learn More
Right along rural Highway 246, Babcock Winery & Vineyards has several picnic tables and umbrellas spread out on the property. Tastings are available daily on a first-come, first-served basis. A menu of snacks, cheese, and charcuterie is available throughout the week. Learn More
Last but definitely not least, find Sanford Winery on the winding Santa Rosa Road that connects Lompoc to Buellton. They are open to guests 21+ for tastings by appointment daily. You can’t beat their views of the hallowed ground that is the Sanford & Benedict vineyard planted in 1971, which first put Santa Barbara wine on the map. Learn More
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 from local, highly…
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Carr Vineyards & Winery is a small, handcrafted winery producing 4500 cases in downtown Santa Barbara. Owner and winemaker Ryan Carr established the winery in 1999. All of the wines made by Carr are sourced from Santa…
Voted Best Winery and Best Tasting Room by the readers of both the Santa Barbara Independent and the Santa Barbara News-Press! We are a family owned and operated winery and vineyard with a love for the land and a commitment to…
Located at the Hotel Californian, just steps from Santa Barbara’s bustling Funk Zone neighborhood, find the newly-opened J. Wilkes Wine tasting room. Visitors can enjoy a welcoming place to sip the label’s acclaimed wines, with a fresh,…
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Located near Santa Barbara’s waterfront at the Hotel Californian, Margerum Wine Company offers tastings or wines by the glass in our expansive tasting room or on the heated patio. And at the gateway to the Sta. Rita Hills, our…
Our Santa Barbara wine tasting room is located within the “Funk Zone” section of downtown Santa Barbara, just two blocks off the beach and two blocks off of State Street. Come by to check out our beautiful collection of Santa Barbara…
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Established in 1973, Zaca Mesa is a family-owned and operated winery with a long-standing history in Santa Barbara County. As the first vineyard to plant Syrah in the area in 1978, Zaca Mesa has since helped pioneer the Santa Barbara…
Now, thanks to several new and reopened tasting rooms, fans of Santa Barbara County wine can discover a recent wave of exciting openings, relocations and tasting room makeovers. Learn what the buzz is all about on your next visit and add these new wineries to your touring and tasting list. But please don’t blame us if you’re tempted to join a wine club (or two)!
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