Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Nov 25, 2008 02:18 PM

Santa Barbara

Will be visiting Santa Barbara for the first time from December 26 to January 1. I would really appreciate some info and help on the wineries in the area. Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: zin1953

      Thanks Jason. Not really sure where we will be staying IN Santa Barbara. We are doing a few days in LA and wanted to drive to SB for a few days. Any recs?

      1. re: drewames03

        There are so many wonderful wineries in the general area. It will probably depend on what sort of wine you wish to taste.

        One option would be to stop in Los Olivos and have a taste of a lot of the smaller producers. There are a couple of co-op tasting locations.

        Then, just down the road is Beckman. Spend a couple of hours there, as he has a ton of fun wines, and all (that I have ever tasted) well made.

        I would stay away from Firestone and Fess Parker, BUT, just at the entrance to Firestone, is a familal winery - part of the family, but separate. It has some great Syrahs, plus others. I should have done my research before typing, but my memory is acting up right now. One name, and at the turn-off to Firestone. Others will fill in my blank. If the room is full, wait a bit. Talk to the winemaker, who is usually pouring. The more you talk, the more he'll gather from the "library." Dang, I keep telling my wife, that wine improves my memory. Luckily, she's not home yet.

        Enjoy - there are some wonderful, tiny wineries in that area. Do your research from Jason's links. Pick by your favorite varietals and go for it.


          1. re: Philly


            Thanks for helping an old guy with a fading memory. You are correct Curtis. That turned out to be one of the highlights on our last trip. I was not familiar with them, and was greatly impressed. We just kept finding different "library wines." We stayed much longer, than anticipated.


    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Zaca Mesa in the Santa Ynez Valley is a nice place to visit - more focused on the wine than the tourism aspects of the business. They produce some nice Rhone varietals.

        2 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            A third for Zaca Mesa. I really enjoyed their wines on a very recent visit.

        1. Foxen is a circus on the weekend i.e. tour buses, huge crowds and mediocre wine.
          Of course, that's just my opinion based on my last and final visit.

          I highly suggest taking Larry up on his offer.

          The Beckman suggestion is a fantastic one.

          You might also consider driving "the loop". Start out on Hwy 246 going towards Lompoc. People like Melville; next door is Babcock which is worth a stop.

          Contact Clos Pepe a few weeks in advance and see if you can arrange a tour of the vineyards and a tasting with Wes Hagen.

          Then, stop in Lompoc and check out Fiddlehead and Palmina. If you can arrange ahead of time, give Peter Work a call and do a tasting at Ampelos.

          Leaving Lompoc, there are more wineries to visit on Santa Rosa Rd. on your way back towards Buellton.

          4 Replies
          1. re: vinosnob

            We will be staying in Buellton. Thanks for all your advice!

            1. re: vinosnob

              Foxen mediocre?
              Have you tried the Julia's Pinot, the Block 8 Pinot, or the ubiquitous (and excellent) Seasmoke? Or the Tinaquiac Chard? Or the Toasted Rope Syrah? I could continue if you'd like...
              I highly recommend Foxen, just maybe not on a Saturday ;)
              Also Cold Heaven for Viognier, Jaffurs in actual SB, Brewer-Clifton if you can arrange a tasting....

              1. re: jdwdeville

                Yes, not to MY liking.

                Cold Heaven and Jaffurs are solid recs.

                1. re: vinosnob

                  Hey Guys!

                  I wanted to thank all of you for your recommendations and help. I just returned to chilly Boston from 6 days in CA including 2 days and nights in the Santa Barbara Valley. We stayed in Buellton and visited 7 wineries.

                  My favorites:

                  Kalyra, Beckmen, and Curtis - I found all of their wines to be fruity and smooth. I also liked Epiphany and Zaca Mesa. The bottom two were Andrew Murray and definitely Firestone.

                  I have been learning a great deal about wine over the past year or two. On this trip, I realized how much I like Syrah. I have traditionally gone with a Cabernet, a Zinfandel, or a Pinot when buying reds from CA. Syrahs will certainly be joining the list!

                  Thanks Again!