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Santa Barbara wineries?

Hi, am planning a trip to Santa Barbara this weekend and I'd love to know if anyone knows of any small or exceptional wineries I should check out?

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  1. I have been to Sunstone which was decent. I like Zaca Mesa wines and Melville but haven't been to their wineries. There are two distinct drives and you can find the maps online. I remember thinking that the Foxen Rd. drive looked good to me..

    3 Replies
    1. re: AlabasterDisaster

      I have been to the Zaca Mesa winery. Rustic and nothing fancy, not as touristy as most. The wines are great. You can buy a few wines that they only sell at the winery. I highly recommend it. It is relatively close to Firestone which has some nice wines but is slightly more touristy, and Fess Parker which, in my opinion, is definitely a tourist destination. Los Olivos is a nice town to stop in for lunch if you are in the area, and as Megiac points out, there are numerous additional tasting rooms in town.

      1. re: scrappydog

        Say hello to Larry Schaffer at Fess Parker. He is the assistan winemaker there. If you meet him, ask him if you can check out his wines, Tercero. Awesome wines at great prices! -mJ

      2. re: AlabasterDisaster

        I really enjoyed Sunstone when I was there. The wines were really nice, the atmosphere was scenic (beautiful tasting room...nice little patio with tables where you can sip a bottle and enjoy the view) and the staff was helpful and informative. Blackjack Ranch had some nice Bordeaux-style wines at great prices and Rideau we also enjoyed as well. If you have the time, hit Los Olivos' downtown strip - there are a bunch of tasting rooms and cute places to eat with great gourmet food for lunch.

      3. Check out Lafond Winery. They got some good pinots and some other little gems. Also check out I think it's Paige 23. Good stuff also. Sanford is nice but has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years. If you want google Santa Barbara wineries and you will get a list of them.

        1. Keep in mind there are -- IIRC -- only a handfull winery tasting rooms actually IN Santa Barbara, so I hope you're planning on driving a lot . . . .

          Here is a link to an interactive listing of Santa Barbara Co. wineries -- you can click on each winery name to see what types of wines they make, what hours they are open, whether you need an appointment, etc., etc., etc. -- http://www.sbcountywines.com/wineries...

          Go to this link -- it will show you the touring routes that AlabasterDiasaster mentions -- http://www.sbcountywines.com/visit/to...

          I have no idea what kind of wines you like (Chardonnay? Riesling? Sauvignon Blanc? Pinot Noir? Merlot? Syrah? etc., etc., etc.), and winery recommendations are sort of dependent upon one's tastes. Let me know what kind of wines you're looking for . . . .

          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            Thanks! The maps are very helpful. I have no problem driving... I personally am a fan of Pinot Noirs and generally prefer reds to whites, but I'm traveling with a friend and I don't really know his taste, so any place that stands out for any reason (exceptional wine, or just an interesting ambience) would be worth checking out.

          2. Foley makes good chardonnays and pinot noir.
            Alma Rosa makes good Pinot noir also.

            What do you want to taste? Santa Barbara wineries shines when it comes to Pinot Noir. As far as Rhone varietals, I find them to be so-so.

            1. I went on a recent trip. I was with my mom and sister, who are total lightweights, but we did hit a few tastign rooms. I really enjoyed the tasting rooms at Foxen and Beckmen. Also, a number of wineries have their their tasting rooms along the main street in Los Olivos, and you could spend a day there going from tasting room to tasting room (Andrew Murray is not to be missed!).

              If you want Pinot Noir, you need to be further north in the Santa Maria area. For Syrah, stay further south closer to the Santa Ynez area.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Megiac

                As noted in an earlier post, there aren't wineries to speak of in Santa Barbara. You'll need to go a bit further north, to the Santa Ynez Valley. There are about 8 tasting rooms in a couple of blocks in the town of Los Olivos. Carina Cellars makes lovely viogniers and syrahs; Andrew Murray is good. Have lunch or dinner at Patrick's Sidestreet Cafe or Mattei's Tavern. Both are great. Patrick's is a more casual environment with really good, creative food. Foxen Canyon to Foxen Winery and others. It's a shack on Foxen Cyn Road. Great Pinots. Good place to picnic. More fabulous Syrah at Stolpman Vineyards - tasting room in Solvang, along with many other lesser wineries. Have fun!

                1. re: nanette90278

                  I was so focused on the wine, I hadn't even thought about eating! Thanks for the tips. I'm so excited now!

                2. re: Megiac

                  There are some great Pinot Noirs near Solvang/Buellton/Santa Rita/Santa Ynez Valley. Foley is very good for Pinot Noir. I don't think that it's necessary to go to Santa Maria.

                  1. re: Megiac

                    Couldn't agree more on Andrew Murray! Awesome Rhone styled wines that are real treats! -mJ

                  2. Rusack and Beckmen are in beautiful locals and both have tasting roomss.

                    Typically, I stick to the Santa Rita Hills area and take the "loop" into Lompoc to the wine "ghetto" and back out towards Buellton. Some of these places require appointments and some don't; you'll have to check online to be sure.

                    I like Babcock, Palmina, Flying Goat, Fiddlehead, Clos Pepe, Sea Smoke and Michael Grace to name a few...

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: vinosnob

                      I'm pretty sure that Sea Smoke does not have a tasting room open to the public, by appointment or otherwise.

                      1. re: Megiac

                        You can visit them during the week if you're a list member

                        1. re: vinosnob

                          And what are the odds that . . . .

                            1. re: vinosnob

                              And tell them that you BFF is Poppy? ;^)

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Drop Victor an e-mail. He is very accomodating to list members. We look forward to visiting on our next trip out as we've been drinking their wines for years, but never been there. Poppy is an absolute peach, but doesn't work for the winery anymore. Katie however is very helpful! Such a great team making great wines there! -mJ

                      2. re: vinosnob

                        Nice to see Fiddlehead getting some press. This is a great winery that flies way under the radar! Love their pinot and sauv blancs! -mJ

                      3. There is a tasting room in Solvang that carries Departures Viognier it is the BEST white wine i've ever had. I bought a bottle and then ordered a case.

                        The tasting room name should be somewhere on their site.


                        1. A buddy of mine who goes through there fairly often loves Consilience, I think also in the Los Olivos area. Lots of Syrah and Pinot, but they make a monster not-for-the-faint-of-heart zin. I think in general, "not-for-the-faint-of-heart" would be the way to describe their style - apparently alcohol content is pretty high in all of their wines - but I liked that zin, and I believe the other wines are a bit more restrained.

                          1. Brander near Los Olivos makes some excellent whites, particularly sauvignon blanc.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Mr. Cookie

                              We got a little lost and that's exactly where we ended up! Turned out great. My friend really liked their Syrah.

                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                I went with some girlfriends to Santa Barbara in February. We toured 4-5 wineries, and Zaca Mesa was our favorite, hands-down. They gave us several extra pours that were not on the tasting sheet. The Eight Barrell Syrah, available only at the winery, was excellent! There's a short hiking trail that takes you to the top of a little hill with a picnic table and nice view of the area.