Looking for a romantic escape to wow and woo the wine lover in your life? Escape to The American Riviera® to sip Santa Barbara’s finest vintages while enjoying the region’s most exceptional settings and superior personalized service. Think luxurious resorts, impeccably prepared seasonal feasts, picturesque vineyards, private barrel tastings, leisurely beach walks, sunsets by the sea and pampering spa treatments. This epic four-day itinerary seamlessly blends town and country, and guarantees you’ll leave with some seriously brag-worthy experiences under your belt. (Not to mention several cases of wine to keep your Santa Barbara love affair alive long after you’ve returned home!)
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Day 1 – Wine & Architecture
Your first order of business will be checking into one of Santa Barbara’s premier luxury resorts—take your pick from oceanfront, hillside or downtown settings and request an early check-in so you can maximize your afternoon upon arrival.
Once you’ve gotten settled in, have your car service take you to the heart of downtown Santa Barbara for a refined urban wine touring experience in the historic adobes of El Paseo. Wineries located in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood feature eight elegant tasting rooms that pour vintages crafted by esteemed family-owned-and-operated wineries such as Au Bon Climat, Grassini Family Vineyards, Jamie Slone Wines and Margerum Wine Company.
Walk off the wine with a visit to two picturesque architectural landmarks near El Paseo: El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and the grand Santa Barbara County Courthouse—don’t miss the epic view from the top of the clock tower. Then, take a stroll along State Street and browse the boutiques of Arlington Plaza and Paseo Nuevo.
Take a break to refresh at your hotel before you head to the cozy and intimate Bouchon in downtown Santa Barbara. When ordering a glass (or bottle) of wine, know that you’ll be in excellend hands. Their “exclusively Santa Barbara County” wine list has earned Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for 10 years running.
Day 2 – Wine & Wellness
Start your day with room service breakfast in bed and get your blood pumping with an invigorating walk on Butterfly Beach in Montecito*. That will prep you for the Vineyard Harvest treatment (or the Couples’ Suite Retreat package) at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara’s Spa*. Each signature spa experience includes a therapeutic soak and full body massage. The Vineyard Harvest is a bit more elaborate with wine-related ingredients infused throughout and the addition of a body wrap treatment, plus cheese and a glass of local wine to finish.
Coastal Concierge will pick you up in your blissed out state to catch your helicopter to wine country. The private flight in an R44 Raven 1 helicopter will soar above the Pacific and pass over the Santa Ynez Mountains before landing among hillside vineyards. Your helicopter wine tour will include private tastings at two exclusive wineries and a gourmet lunch.
When you return to Santa Barbara Airport, Coastal Concierge will drop you off for dinner at Angel Oak at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. The dark, sultry restaurant serves artful cuisine prepared by acclaimed French Chef Vincent Lesage.
Day 3 – Wine & Outdoor adventure
Start your day mid-morning with a private cooking class arranged by Market Forays. After collecting seasonal ingredients from local purveyors, you’ll go to a private residence to prepare a decadent brunch while learning more about the local culinary landscape from one of its best-known insiders. Laurence will fill you with destination recommendations and foodie knowledge as you cook and savor the nourishing feast you’ve prepared together. Of course, local wines will be specially paired with your gourmet brunch.
Spend the afternoon shopping the antique stores, upscale galleries and well-curated luxury homeware and fashion boutiques of Montecito* and Summerland. Make your way from the Montecito Country Mart to Coast Village Road and then wind up to the Upper Village. In Summerland, the antique shops are concentrated on Ortega Hill Road that leads into Lillie Avenue, the main drag lined with small shops, galleries and the Summerland Winery tasting room. Time and interest permitting, fit in a visit to one of Montecito’s gorgeous estates open to the public for docent-led tours by appointment; Lotusland and Casa Del Herrero are both stunning examples of Santa Barbara-style architecture and gardens.
In the evening, head to the harbor to embark upon a sunset sail. Several outfitters like Sunset Kidd and Santa Barbara Sailing Center offer private charters. Request a sommelier to join you on board for an educational tasting themed by your favorite varietal or a specific Santa Barbara AVA. You can also request dinner service for a more elaborate pairing experience at sea. Whichever option you go for, the magnificent coastal views and dreamy sundown light will remind you why Santa Barbara has been called The American Riviera® for more than a century.
Day 4 – Wine & Culinary
On your final day, head over the hill to spend a full day exploring wine country. Book a standard car service or tap into the expertise of professional tour guides by using one of the many qualified local wine tour outfitters.
Start in the Lompoc “Wine Ghetto” (an industrial wine production complex on the outskirts of town) with a tasting flight of Flying Goat Cellars’ Goat Bubbles, hands down some of the region’s best sparkling wines. Stop by Dierberg/Star Lane on Drum Canyon Road for a tasting en route to lunch in Los Alamos. Conde Nast Traveler deemed tiny Los Alamos “California’s Next Great Food and Wine Destination.” The rustic one-street town on the rise is home to wine and beer tasting rooms, antique stores and an abundance of fantastic lunch spots like Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, Bell Street Farm and Valle Fresh.
Loop back over to Los Olivos, where you can meander around on foot to visit some of the village’s 20-plus tasting rooms. Toast your last night with a magnificent dinner at The Bear & Star, the new restaurant in the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn helmed by Partner/Chef John Cox, most recently of the revered Sierra Madre at Big Sur’s award-winning Post Ranch Inn.
You’ll sleep very well after a decadent day indulging in the diverse flavors of Santa Barbara Wine Country—and start dreaming of what you’ll do on your next visit!
*Due to the effects of the recent mudslide in Montecito, California, businesses and hotels in Montecito and Summerland may be temporarily closed due to road access issues. If you are planning to visit Montecito or Summerland this week, please call ahead to check the hours and availability. For more information, click here.