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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leonetti

2024 Santa Barbara Wine Country Guide

My Santa Barbara Wine Country Guide features my suggestions for the best Hotels, Wineries, Tasting Rooms, and Restaurants in my favorite wine region. This is an ever-growing list, so check back often and let me know if you have any favorites I must try out.



PLACES TO STAY:


I love Solvang so much!  Solvang is a Danish village in the middle of Santa Barbara wine country.  They have Danish bakeries, stores, and windmills everywhere!  They also have wine tasting rooms and a multitude of bars & restaurants.  It’s great to stay in Solvang when you are with friends and are looking for evening activities. 


Hotel Corque ($$$): Boutique hotel, great location


The Landsby ($$$): Bougie!  They have a great restaurant - Mad & Vin - which has a lounge area as well. Dog-Friendly*


Vinland Hotel & Lounge ($$):  Convenient location!  They have a bar and a pool. Dog-Friendly


Wine Valley Inn & Cottages ($$): Affordable option, nightly rate includes a daily breakfast.  Onsite Spa! Dog-Friendly*

 

Located directly off the 101, Buellton is a super convenient place to stay.  It has some of my favorite restaurants and is a perfect central location to enjoy wine tasting from.  Please note - it is not as walkable as Solvang & Los Alamos.  If you want to partake in any nighttime festivities, you will likely have to Uber.  However, Buellton is a great option if you love a quiet night at the hotel after a day of wine tasting!


Santa Ynez Valley Marriott ($$$): Modern amenities, nice pool!  Bonus: You can use Marriot (Bonvoy) points. Dog-Friendly*


Sideways Inn ($$): Convenient location right off the 101, pool!  Walking distance to the Hitching Post II! (This was the hotel featured in the movie Sideways).  Dog-Friendly*

 

Charming!  That’s the best way to describe Los Olivos.  It’s just the cutest little town.  You feel like you are on a movie/tv set when you are walking around.  They have so many extraordinary tasting rooms and a plethora of incredible restaurants.  I would recommend Los Olivos for a romantic weekend getaway rather than a place to get crazy with friends. 


Fess Parker Wine Country Inn ($$$$): FANCY!  They have a spa and their restaurant - Nella Kitchen - is quite the hot spot.


Wow!  That is the best way to describe Los Alamos!  I consider it the Las Vegas of wine country.  I can’t really get into the details of why, but people do love to have a good time in Los Alamos!  It’s a tiny little town with one main street (seriously) and an Old West vibe.  But they certainly know how to pack the fun into a small area!  They have so many phenomenal restaurants that you can spend a whole weekend just in Los Alamos.  Los Alamos is ideal if you want to be within walking distance of nice restaurants, but also want a chill locale with not too many people. 


Skyview ($$$) Luxury boutique hotel!  Heated pool along with a full-service restaurant - Norman. Dog-Friendly*


The Alamo Motel ($$): Chic roadside motel!  They have the cutest beer & wine bar located right in their courtyard. Dog-Friendly*



WINERIES & TASTING ROOMS:


Alma Rosa:  Fantastic Pinot Noir & Chardonnay made by a female winemaker! They have a lovely tasting room in Buellton – but I highly recommend booking a private wine experience at their ranch house located in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills.  *Favorite Wine – Bentrock Pinot Noir


Andrew Murray Vineyards:  Beautiful winery located on Foxen wine trail, features Rhone varietals *Favorite Wine – Roasted Slope Syrah


Babcock: Fun tasting room/winery off Route 246 in Lompoc, Pinot heaven, great place to buy souvenirs when you are tipsy! *Favorite Wine – Ocean’s Ghost Pinot Noir


Brave & Maiden:  Newer winery in Santa Ynez – modern, smart space.  You will want to stock up on their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc here!


Brick Barn Wine Estate: Located in Buellton – right off Route 246.  Lovely outdoor space.  So many great wines – love their Viognier, Grenache Rosé and of course – their Pinot and Chardonnay


Camins2Dreams: Tasting room located in Lompoc. Women owned and operated - they focus on Syrah and Grüner and make truly special wine with grapes sourced from some of the best vineyards. *Favorite Wine – Zotovich Vineyard Syrah


Civilization Wine Company: Tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Factory.  Winemake/Owner Kris Beverly is passionate about wines and it shows in each sip.  Be sure to ask for a quick tour of the winemaking facilities.  *Favorite Wine – 2019 Ampelos Vineyard Pinot Noir


Coquelicot Tasting Room: Charming tasting room in Los Olivos.  Certified organic winery with a unique selection of wine - need to try their Carbonic Sangiovese.  *Favorite Wine – 2018 Estate Syrah


Demetria:  Off the Foxen Wine Trail – Gorgeous views!  Biodynamic Rhone and Burgundy wines.  While they have good Pinots – I’m all about the Rhone varietals here *Favorite Wine: Pantheon (GSM)


Dovecote Estate Winery: Located in the newly minted Alisos Canyon AVA.  Book a tasting at their pond – which is the most relaxing place to drink wine!  I could never choose a favorite among their Syrah, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier!


Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard: Located off Foxen Canyon.  Fun place to go with a group, nice outdoor location – opens early!  *Favorite Wine – Big Easy (Syrah, Petite Syrah, Grenache)


Folded Hills:  Located directly off the 101 Freeway in Gaviota! Great Rhone Varietals!  Unique tasting experiences – including a full tour of the ranch to visit all of the animals!  I love tasting down at the beautiful lake.  *Favorite Wine:  August Red (Syrah/Grenache)


Foxen:  Located off of the Foxen Canyon (obvi).  Such a cool experience to taste at the “Shack”.  Amazing Pinot – but also some unique varietals.  *Favorite Wine: Pajarito (Petit Verdot/Merlot)


Future Perfect:  Cozy tasting room in Los Olivos.  They source grapes from top notch local vineyards that practice sustainability, organic and/or biodynamic farming.  Female owner/winemaker!  *Favorite Wine: 2022 Cabernet Franc


Grassini Family Vineyards:  Located in the Happy Canyon AVA. Stunning place – Bordeaux Varietals *Favorite Wine: Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


Grimm’s Bluff: Located in the Happy Canyon AVA.  I recommend doing a full tour at the winery. Biodynamic winery.  Bordeaux Varietals. *Favorite Wine: Contango Cabernet Sauvignon


Happy Canyon Vineyards:  Located in the Happy Canyon AVA, they have a tasting room in Santa Barbara – I recommend tasting at the vineyard – surrounded by vines and horses.  Beautiful Bordeaux Blends *Favorite Wine: Barrack Family Ten-Goal Cabernet Sauvignon


Holus Bolus: Cute tasting room in Los Olivos.  High-quality, small batch wine made from Chardonnay, Roussanne, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. *Favorite Wine: Amy and Peter Made This, Pinot Noir


Kaena: They have a tasting room in Los Olivos – but you should definitely visit their beautiful ranch location in Solvang (make sure to visit the goats!!) Kaena is a boutique winery that makes fabulous Grenache – but you should also try their Bordeaux options.  *Favorite Wine: 2019 Cuvée Lucille (Grenache/Syrah)


Liquid Farm:  With a Tasting Room in Los Olivos, Liquid Farm produces fantastic Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  They allow their wine to develop with little intervention and no winery manipulation.  *Favorite Wine:  Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir


Peake Ranch: Located in the Sta. Rita Hills – fairly new tasting room – very modern.  Lovely Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  *Favorite Wine: Bellis Noir (Grenache, Syrah, Pinot Noir)


Pence Vineyards:  Located off Rte. 246 Beautiful Tasting experiences, great Pinot and Chard – but also try the Syrah!  They have the cutest dogs and you may also have a peacock sighting there. *Favorite Wine: Sebastiano Syrah


Melville:  Further down Rte. 246 from Pence.   Estate winery, bougie tasting room!  Fantastic Pinot Noir!  *Favorite Wine: Anna’s Block Estate Pinot Noir


Roblar Winery:  Located in Santa Ynez, Roblar offers a wide variety of wines!  They have Bordeaux blends, Sangiovese, GSMs, everything!  They also have a talented chef and have a fabulous Sunday Brunch menu so you can enjoy brunch favorites in their beautiful outdoor space.  *Favorite Wine:  Sangre de Dioses (Blend of Sangiovese, Grenache, Cabernet)


Sanford Winery:  Iconic Sta. Rita Hills winery.  Gorgeous location!  Famous for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  *Favorite Wine: Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir


Spear: Located on Rte. 246.  Family-owned, sustainable, and organic winery *Favorite Wine: Gnesa Vineyard Stainless Chardonnay


Story of Soil: Women-owned winery with a wonderful tasting room located in Los Olivos. Focus is on single varietal and single vineyard wines.  They have a beautiful selection of Pinot Noir, but they also make a lovely Grüner that I am quite fond of.  *Favorite Wine: La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir


Tribute to Grace:  Small tasting room in Los Alamos, all wines are single-vineyard 100% Grenache made by a super talented female winemaker *Favorite Wine: Whole Cluster Grenache


Tyler Winery:  Located on Rte. 246 in Sta. Rita Hills, beautiful Chardonnay & Pinot Noir – book a private tasting at their Mae Vineyard Estate *Favorite Wine: Mae Estate Chardonnay





RESTAURANTS:


Buellton:

Industrial Eats ($$): Truly a lunchtime gem!  Amazing Pizzas, Salads, and Sandwiches *Favorite Dish: Prosciutto, Taleggio, Parmesan, Arugula Pizza


Hitching Post Tasting Room ($$):  Favorite lunch spot – perfect outdoor place for delicious burgers and wine!  *Favorite Dish: Oak Grilled Cheeseburger


Hitching Post ($$$): Yes – Hitching Post again – but this is the indoor restaurant – and for dinner!  Fantastic steaks and wine!  One of the few places I order dessert as well (the chocolate cake & ice cream!) $$$

 


Los Alamos:

Bell’s ($$$$): Michelin Star, French-inspired Bistro - perfect for lunch or dinner! This place is special! *Favorite Dish: Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Regiis Ova Caviar, Mille Crêpe


Bob’s Well Bread ($): Perfect breakfast spot – their bread/pastries are divine!  Perfect lunch sandwiches!  (Also have a location in Ballard) *Favorite Dish: Baguette, Prosciutto and Egg Sandwich


Pico ($$$): Open for dinner each night and brunch on the weekends.  Farm-to-table restaurant.  Fantastic cocktails and stellar wine program! 


 

Los Olivos:

Los Olivos Wine Merchant Café ($$): Love this place for lunch!! (it’s open for dinner too) Extensive wine list.  Nice patio seating. *Favorite Dish: Steak Cobb Salad


Mattei’s Tavern ($$$$): Open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  This place has so much history and a ranch-inspired menu.  Amazing wine list and beautiful open kitchen that is helmed by the uber-talented Chef Rhoda Magbitang.  *Favorite Dish: Tavern Strip Steak


Nella ($$$): Hot Spot! Italian-inspired dishes.  Phenomenal Cocktails!  They have an assortment of Roman style Pinsas that are all delicious! 


 

Santa Ynez:

Ellie’s Tap & Vine ($$$): Warm and inviting restaurant in quiet location in Santa Ynez open for dinner only.  Delicious food with seasonal menu that changes often.  Great wine list!  Outside Patio Dog-Friendly


 

Solvang:

First & Oak ($$$): Located in the Mirabelle Inn. Highlights local and organic ingredients, seasonal menu.  Intimate patio seating.


Leonardo’s ($$): Great Italian place with delicious pizzas and pastas. Love the cozy back patio! *Favorite Dish: Orecchiette with Rapini, Sausage, and Garlic


Mad & Vin ($$$): Located in the The Landsby hotel.  Open for Breakfast, Brunch, and Dinner. Wine-country inspired cuisine *Favorite Dish: Short Rib Breakfast Burrito


Peasants Feast ($$$): Open for Lunch and Dinner this place is a must for your next visit to Solvang.  They have lovely patio seating and a casual vibe with impressive food.  Peasants Feast has Michelin recognition and of course a fantastic wine list filled with local gems. *Favorite Dish: Fried Chicken with Caviar Ranch


Solvang Restaurant ($): Super-charming!  My favorite breakfast spot in wine country!  *Favorite Dish: Aebleskiver 




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