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Apr 30, 2007 07:33 AM

Santa Barbara wine country

My girlfriend and i have a spare day before a wedding in Santa Barbara. We are interested in heading north from Santa Barbara into wine country. Any recommendations for good and interesting restaurants up there, as well as wineries to definitely seek out, and ones to avoid would be much appreciated. I dont think we want to go as far north as Paso Robles, but we can always be convinced if the options are much better that far north. I have looked for answers to this before posting, and there doesnt seem to be anything recent. Am i looking in the wrong place? Also, tips on affordable/nice-ish accomodations for would be welcome as well.

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  1. This will probably get moved from the LA board to the California board, where all the other Santa Barbara posts are.

    I think the wineries around Los Olivos are excellent, so I would go that way. You definitely don't need to drive up to Paso Robles -- the Santa Maria valley has all the wine you'd ever need. Nice wineries include Babcock, Sanford, and Foley.

    If you're in Santa Barbara, then you need to be sure to eat at La Super Rica. Favorite restaurant in the world... There are a million posts about it on Chowhound.

    As for hotels, good luck with that. Santa Barbara seems to have cheaper (Motel 6) hotels and really expensive hotels (Bacara, Four Seasons), but little in between. That's why we always go cheap and use whatever money we save for wine and food.

    1. For wine tasting, you may want to center around Los Olivos and Foxen Canyon. Lots of Rhone styles to taste, including good viogniers from Fess Parker, Zaca Mesa, Koehler. Definitely hit Foxen for their pinots. Tasting room in Los Olivos samples some of the more distant (or not open to public) wineries. Assuming you are not going to Santa Rita hills, you may find and taste some nice wines from that area.

      In SB,visit Jaffurs.

      Here's a recent article for some pinot reference:

      On the food side, you'll hear many recommend La Super Rica, the Mexican "stand" on Milpas, which is really good. En route to the wineries, try Cold Spring Tavern.

      1. My favorite winery in the area is Talley in Arroyo Grande. It's kind of far north.
        Not to pick a fight with Glutton, but I'd put Sanford on the avoid list. The quality has dropped considerably since the 2001 vintage. The Sanford for whom the winery was named was forced out/bought out or something like that and is no longer involved.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SteveTimko

          That's good info on Sanford. I hadn't been there in years, so if it's on a downslide, then I'd avoid it. This is clearly more current info than what I was offering.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            If going up as far as AG, I'd throw Domain Alfred into the mix for their Pinots and DA-Red, a Pinot Syrah blend. Laetitia might be worth a stop as well, right off 101.

          2. If the day is pretty, nothing can beat the drive out to Rancho Sisquoc Winery - good reviews on wine too. Good dining at Grapolo in Santa Ynez and second the suggestion for Cold Springs Tavern on Route 154 over the San Marcos Pass. The Holiday Inn in Goleta has some of the cheaper rates in the SB area, or the SuperEight out by UCSB - both are adequate places to sleep...that is about it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: glbtrtr

              oh, yes, Rancho Sisquoc! As opposed to other more Disneyland-ish local wineries, visiting is like a step back in time--serene and unpretentious. Beautiful grounds with huge walnuts and oaks shading large picnic grounds. Off Foxen Cyn Rd where the little San Ramon Chapel sits on the hill above the road.


              1. re: toodie jane

                yes, Rancho Sisquoc is off the beaten path, and pretty grounds - -but their current tasting offerings are horrible! Not worth the trek, currently.

            2. Just got back from a wine day this past weekend. The best finds were at Kenneth Volk and Rideau (do the reserve tasting - OMG!).

              I also really like Cambria (definite stop if you go up to Kenneth Volk area).

              If you haven't done it - the Foxen Trail stops are good & a very pretty drive (skip Firestone and Curtis (although, I really like the Firestone tasting room) - Kohler, Fess Parker, Zaca Mesa (ZM is my fav. of that bunch).

              If you don't feel like driving around, go to Los Olivos and hit the tasting rooms (tons within a couple blocks - Consilience (sp?), Ephiphany are great. If you go to Solvang - I really liked Stolpman wines.

              Places we wouldn't visit again - Buttonwood, Beckman, Rancho Sisquoc (but if you are into the grounds, these places are pretty).

              On a visit about a year ago - we stopped in at Shoestring and had a lovely time (super nice people, very rustic (tasting room in a barn!).

              For food - we always eat in Solvang - although, I've been dying to try the cafe in Los Olivos that everyone speaks of. Breakfast at the Belguim Cafe - dinner at a place called Angelica (or something like that???). It's pretty much the only thing that's open for dinner in Solvang - just across the street from the park that has the gazebo.

              I'd also think you could find affordable accomodations in Solvang - but I don't have any recs for you.

              Have fun -- and be prepared for WARM weather - last Saturday it was 90 degrees and very dry.