What makes Santa Barbara County Wine so special?
Santa Barbara is a unicorn of the wine world thanks to the singular blend of experiences, landscapes and personalities. We’re an easy-breezy Southern California beach community with a highly-rated, western-tinged wine country right in our backyard. So many delicious wine grape varietals thrive in our wine valleys’ diversity of microclimates—conditions created by the unusual positioning of our coastline and mountain ranges. The character of the resulting wines crafted by our soulful, motley crew of winemakers is distinctly Santa Barbaran. Beyond revelatory wines and gorgeous scenery, Santa Barbara is as fluent in the language of refined luxury as we are in salt-of-the-Earth boots and barbecue. Speaking of salt, when it comes to the seafaring kind, our deep-rooted surf and fishing cultures also have a terroir that’s 100%, uniquely our own and pair beautifully with our local vintages. All this to say, if you’re looking for a vacation that offers equal parts town and country, ocean and wine—all in ultra-close proximity to each other—Santa Barbara is definitely your sweet spot. Here’s some itinerary inspiration to help you make you next trip even sweeter.
Where to stay
Book a room at The Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, where you can sample the best of all worlds right on property. The spacious residential style accommodations and attentive hospitality will make you feel right at home, ensconced in a lush, fragrant Mediterranean-style wonderland. You can take full advantage of the property’s waterfront setting, whether you’re relishing in a spa treatment, watching the sunset on Butterfly Beach, dining at the resort’s ocean-view Bella Vista Restaurant or sipping a chardonnay at the Coral Reef Bar. Local wines feature prominently on the menu at Ty Lounge and Bella Vista, too—the latter deservedly received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence stamp of approval. No matter where you are on the 22-acre grounds and neighboring Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, the dreamy panoramic views of the Pacific and Channel Islands offshore will stop you in your tracks time and time again. If you gaze out long enough, you might even spot dolphins frolicking and whales breaching. Note: You don’t have to be a hotel guest to take advantage of the fantastic food, wine and views at the Ty Lounge or Bella Vista, but reservations are recommended during prime dining hours and for the decadent Sunday Brunch service.
Where to sip
When you’re ready to get out and explore, the Four Seasons’ concierge team can customize a tasting tour to suit your interests. Their exclusive marquee wine experience is “Taste the Art of Winemaking,” an afternoon with Sunstone Vineyards & Winery’s winemaker, Bion Rice. Your private transportation will take you on a scenic drive up and over the hills into the bucolic Santa Ynez Valley, where you’ll spend the afternoon touring Sunstone’s grounds and estate. Bion will guide you through the process of blending your own wine, which will be bottled and shipped to enjoy upon your return home. After tasting and blending, you’ll settle under the oaks for a photo-worthy gourmet picnic spread paired to Sunstone wines.
For another private guided wine tour option, Sustainable Vine Wine Tours takes the eco-conscious route. Your guide will pick you up in a Tesla Model X SUV and bring you to three or four small production and private wineries dedicated to organic and biodynamic winemaking and grape-growing processes. Beyond reducing your carbon footprint and tasting environmentally responsibly made wines, you’ll get to meet winemakers firsthand and nosh on an organic picnic lunch amidst the vines, all the while under the attentive personal care of one of the tour company’s two owners. Destination Vine is a newer bespoke operator on the scene who also offers access to wineries not open to the public. That’s their specialty, in fact. You choose the nature of your wine adventure and they’ll craft it precisely to your liking—with the option to mix in activities ranging from horseback riding and hot air ballooning to wine blending and city sightseeing.
Come back for More
You can immerse yourself even further into our wonderful world of wine when you plan a visit around one of Santa Barbara Vintners’ signature events showcasing the county’s more than 250 wineries. Your cup will runneth over at these multi-day wine and food extravaganzas, filled with opportunities to meet dozens and dozens of legendary and rising star winemakers—and taste alongside locals and fellow visitors alike. First up on the annual calendar is the Santa Barbara Vintners Wine Futures Tasting (March 29-31). The all-inclusive $400 ticket includes the welcome and gala dinners, educational seminars, Grand Futures Tasting and several after-hours happenings. Every spring, the Vintners Festival & Weekend (May 2-6) is a top draw for wine lovers from near and far. This year, the centerpiece Festival Grand Tasting event will be held May 4th at Rancho Sisquoc Winery in the Santa Maria Valley with 70 wineries and 30 top restaurants serving up their best. Finally, the traditional fall harvest festival is being completely reimagined—the new Taste of the Valley event will make its highly anticipated debut October 17-20, 2019. Follow the Santa Barbara Vintners on Instagram for event details, and to keep up on all things Santa Barbara County wine.