‘Tis the season for sparkling wine in Santa Barbara
With a nickname like “The American Riviera®” it should come as no surprise that Santa Barbara is a place that pairs very well with a glass of something sparkling in hand. Dozens of local winemakers produce a delectable range of bubbly beverages, using a variety of grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, and even Shiraz. The diversity of grapes and elegant expressions of the Santa Barbara County terroir in sparkling form are certainly worth raising a glass to—especially during the festive season. From downtown Santa Barbara and coastal Montecito to the vineyard-dotted valleys of wine country, several local tasting rooms pour effervescent releases seasonally while supplies last and, in some cases, offer sparkling wines for purchase and tasting all year round. In addition to wineries, the Santa Barbara Bubble Trail also includes a few specialty wine bars and cooperatives that pour sparklers by the glass from both regional and international origins. We propose a toast to all of the makers, no matter where in the world they call home!
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THE FUNK ZONE
Riverbench Winery is one of the biggest sparkling wine producers in Santa Barbara County and nearly always has bubbles in stock for your tasting pleasure. Styles include Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Demi Sec, Pinot Meunier, Brut Rosé, and the highly-rated Riverbench Cork Jumper Cuvée. If you’re in the market for a special gift, Riverbench offers the add-on option to purchase a bottle dipped in glitter—you’ll definitely earn bonus points for presentation on that one!
Corks & Crowns is an extra sweet spot to spend time on Sundays, thanks to their sparkling wine and cupcake pairing special. The weekly deal features three mini cupcake flavors paired with three different complementary sparkling wines. Another modern and stylish tasting room in The Funk Zone, Kunin Wines, boasts a bubbly wine as bold as its name. The Jurassic Park Sparkling Chenin Blanc is available for tasting and purchase, and you won’t want to miss this roaring good sparkling wine. Stop by their sister tasting room, The Valley Project, to find more varietals to savor.
Santa Barbara Wine Collective is a communal tasting room offering wines by flight, glass, or bottle and represents a sampling of some of the finest local vintners throughout Santa Barbara County. Their Sparkling Flight currently includes Cebada’s 2018 Brut Rosé and Fess Parker’s Fesstivity Blanc de Noirs, Blanc de Blancs, and Brut Rosé.
The team at Santa Barbara Winery is understandably excited to debut their first ever sparkler, the 2017 Sparkling Rosé. Made with Burning Creek Ranch grapes, the wine is well balanced with notes of citrus and strawberry. Elegant bubbles balance the juicy elements, keeping it dry and not overly sweet. Stop in for a chilled glass and toast to a successful day in Santa Barbara.
Before you call it a day or if you’re looking for an evening tasting option, visit Melville Winery’s Santa Barbara tasting lounge, which is open until 7:00 p.m. Try their two estate sparkling wines, the Blanc de Blancs and the Blanc de Noir, and then grab a sweet treat from their next door neighbor, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.
DOWNTOWN & SURROUNDING CITIES
Satellite, a wine bar, café, and bottle shop on State Street, is the place to go if you’re in search of natural sparkling wines—or simply curious to try them. Here you’ll find fizzy wines from Italy, Austria, and France alongside local PétNat (naturally sparkling) vintages, and even some ciders for good measure.
Wander just off State into the Presidio neighborhood’s historic El Paseo and make a beeline for Cebada. The estate winery’s Santa Barbara tasting room is the perfect place to try their Blanc et Noirs releases as well as their Sparkling Rosé.
Laid-back Villa Wine Bar & Kitchen always serves a well-curated selection of bubbles by the glass and bottle, including Charles de Fere Brut, Courtage Brut Rosé, Laurent Perrier Brut, and Taitinger Brut. Pair your bubbles with a cheese and charcuterie platter if you’re inclined to linger.
Down the road in Montecito, pop into Folded Hills to sample their 2019 Sparkling Lilly Rosé, available by the glass or bottle. Winemaker Angela Osborne and the vineyard team adhere to biodynamic principles from grape to glass.
BEYOND THE COAST
Over in the Santa Ynez Valley, Roblar Winery offers a Sparkling Blanc de Blanc and Sparkling Rosé, which can be enjoyed by the bottle paired with their standout “Farm Bites” menu. Drive the scenic route to Sunstone Winery, which feels straight out of France. Celebrate that joie de vivre with a bottle of the 2018 Blanc de Blancs or the 2019 Brut Rosé.
Travel a couple of appellations over to the cooler climate growing area of the famed Sta. Rita Hills, where Ampelos Cellars has a tasting room on the outskirts of Lompoc. Try their stellar biodynamic 2018 Blanc de Noir sparkling release made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. In the same industrial complex is Flying Goat Cellars, known for their “Goat Bubbles.” Every year, winemaker Norm Yost produces bottles of Crémant, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and a Brut Cuvée sourced from several different vineyards and offers a deep library of vintages to shop from. Another resident of the affectionately dubbed “Lompoc Wine Ghetto” is Palmina. Specializing in Italian varietals, here you can find winemaker Steve Clifton’s own label of Blanc de Blanc and Brut Rosé.
Last but not least, in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills countryside is Sanford Winery. Book a tasting at the legendary vineyard and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of their 2015 Brut Cuvée to bring home as an effervescent souvenir of your visit.