Santa Barbara’s stunning views are best paired with a crisp pour of Pinot. It wouldn’t be a weekend visit to The American Riviera® without a self-guided wine tour around Santa Barbara’s world-renowned wineries and tasting rooms. After all, Santa Barbara’s unique micro-climate yields some of the highest quality and widest selection of grapes.
With more than 20 tasting rooms, Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail offers visitors the unique best-of-both-worlds experience. Start your weekend off with a flight from this famed trail that stretches across two distinct downtown neighborhoods, each with quaint enclaves, downtown porticos, nearby spa resorts, and the best shopping and dining.
DAY 1 – historic pairings
Begin your wine weekend in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood. A historic neighborhood peppered with white stucco walls and SB’s quintessential red-tiled roofs, this laid-back area is home to shops and eateries that capture the open-air appeal of coastal California and the European ambiance for which the city is known.
For your first pour, stroll to the well-known Jamie Slone Wines. Conveniently located next to the historic Casa de la Guerra, casually stop-in for a walk-up tasting experience or book an intimate experience in the Private Reserve room. The beauty of the Jamie Slone Wine Tasting Room is that there’s no need to head over the hill to wine country for an elevated tasting experience, featuring winemaking secrets and in-depth knowledge of Santa Barbara’s wine region. As you sip savory red and white varietals, sample some of the finest local chocolate, from Chocolatier Jean-Michel of Chocolats Du CaliBressan. Guests can even opt to enjoy a private or semi-private experience with owners Kym and Jamie Slone, or receive in-depth Wine Education, led by a local wine educator Hope Riley on Saturdays at 11 am.
Before making the move to the next tasting room, grab lunch around the corner at Intermezzo Bar and Café. An alfresco setting and farm-fresh menu will fill your belly and energize you for the rest of the afternoon.
Post-lunch, saunter to the nearby Grassini Family Vineyards tasting room and enjoy the neighborhood’s European architecture while sipping Sauvignon Blanc on the outdoor patio. Complete your time in the Presidio Neighborhood with a visit to Au Bon Climat. Located a block over, this tasting room features a library of wine with 100+ selections.
When it’s time for dinner, there’s no place like Black Sheep Restaurant for an energetic-jolt. Choose from a variety of dishes including Latin, Asian, and Italian-inspired fare. Vibrant in ambience and flavor, Blake Sheep is one of the only places in town where you can eat sweetbreads, ramen, and Peruvian potato tacos, all in one sitting.
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DAY 2 – Wine along the waterfront
Wake up with the sun and begin day two with waterfront views at the newly unveiled Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. Because of Santa Barbara’s south facing beaches, early risers will be treated to a majestic sunrise along the Pacific. Venture across the street for a morning walk along the coastline, from East Beach to the Santa Barbara Harbor. Grab a cup of coffee and breakfast burrito from On the Alley and watch as the fishermen bring in the fresh catch of the day.
Once the clock strikes wine-time, you won’t need to go far, Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort is home to some of Santa Barbara’s most celebrated wines: Fess Parker and Epiphany. Located inside the hotel’s newly renovated lobby, The Fess Parker tasting room is an intimate boutique wine experience that offers a state-of-the-art dispensing system, Enomatic, which protects the freshness, flavors and characteristic of each wine. With guidance from their knowledgeable wine attendants, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a taste, half glass, or full glass of 16 delicious Fess Parker award-winning wines. Guests have the option of pairing the wines with artisan cheeses and charcuterie.
Return to Santa Barbara’s Waterfront for your final tasting, but don’t forget to bring your camera. The Deep Sea Wine Tasting room features a stunning 360-degree view of the Pacific coastline, perfect to pair with your wine. Located on Stearns Wharf, save plenty of time for souvenir shopping.
At the end of the day, there’s no better choice than Rodney’s Grill for authentic Santa Barbara cuisine, featuring dishes such as Filet Mignon, Braised Osso Buco, Wild Salmon and Fettucine Ragout. Rodney’s Grill sources its all-natural beef and seafood from coastal cattle ranches and local fisheries. Swirl one last glass of local wine and meet your perfect cap to a weekend of Santa Barbara indulgence.