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Mar 27, 2012 11:07 AM

Santa Barbara Wine tasting

My boyfriend and I are planing a weekend in Santa Barbara and want to check out the wineries but dont nescesarally want to take a tour. What is the best way to do this? Is it possible to do it on our own or should we take a tour? If we do do it on our own, which vineyards should we check out (Ive never toured winteries in CA and this will be my boyfriend's first time tasting wine)? Also, should we pack a lunch or go out to eat and if we do pack a lunch are there any farmer's markets, etc we could hit up in SB before going out? thanks so much for your help!

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  1. Checkout the Los Olivos area where they filmed the movie Sideways and TV series Andy of Mayberry. The Gainey Winery as well Foxen are good to visit. The tours are quite interesting as well as the wine tastings.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Clinton

      actually going to stay in the "sideways motel." Heard it's a real hole but could still be fun and just for one night :-)

    2. For people to tell you their favorite wineries I think it is best to say what type of wine you like....Pinot, syrah, chardonnay?

      Los Olivos could be a good choice because it can be a nice drive past wineries and then you can just go to a few tasting rooms in town. You can also eat lunch in Los Olivos.

      1 Reply
      1. re: VinoEd

        I love pinot, sav blancs, syrah, not a huge chardonnay fan. Love big bold reds also. I read there was a winery that specialized in Italian varietals? Excited to taste these and really want to find a market with some local cheese, fruit and salumi if possible to pair for a picnic. Any market suggestions and picnic area suggestions? Also, how far is cold spring tavern from Buellton? are the tri-tip sandwiches worth the drive? Thanks!

      2. As long as you are willing to drive while tasting wine, there is no reason to take some sort of choreographed group bus tour. Wineries the Santa Barbara area are easy to get to and most are open to the public, and relatively low key.

        Los Olivos is a great suggestion as there are a lot of tasting rooms in the town, good restaurants, is cute etc. In town, Andrew Murray, Beckman and Stoplman make good wines.

        If you want to visit some winery estates that are relatively close by, Rusack is a few miles south of Los Olivos. Foxen and Zaca Mesa are a few miles north on Foxen Canyon Rd.

        1. Another option is to go with one of the jeep tour companies in the area . . . You'll find a few mentioned on this board, but a couple of my favorites are DeeTours and Gold Coast Limousine. A major advantage of this is not being in a position to have to drink and drive. And both of these companies can arrange for lunches to be provided as well.

          If you decide to go it on your end, Los Olivos is a great choice - there are over 30 different tasting rooms within walking distance of each other, along with a couple of markets that offer plenty of food, a great sandwhich shop called Panini, and a couple of sit down restaurants.

          Drop me a line if I can help any further -


          3 Replies
          1. re: lmacschaf

            While you could drive yourself to the Santa Ynez Valley- why would you? Let someone esle drive and for the price of a couple of bottles of wine, you can have a safe and sober ride...

            And while it is a wonderful area to visit, the Santa Ynez Valley- you can do some perfectly decent wine tasting in Santa Barbara without even leaving town...Wine Cask, Au Bon Climat, Whitcraft, Jaffurs, Santa Barbara Winery, Carr, to name just a few- are available and even within bicycing distance to eachother.

            Inquire at your hotel to what they might offer tour wise- they may have a deal or two available...ENJOY!!!!

            1. re: lmacschaf

              How far is Los Olivos from buellton? Any good places to get food early before tasting? We are planning to drive to Bulleton, check in, taste then eat. Also going to need a good dinner place. Hubbards cupboard looks good. Anyone eaten there?

              1. re: lmacschaf

                I looked into these but seem a waste at $200 for 2 people. Id rather spend the money on wine and food! thanks for the suggestion though. What markets could you recomend? We will be staying in Buellton. Thanks!

              2. Thanks so much for the suggestions! I am very excited to finally get to know this beautiful area better. We have decided to stay in Buellton and use that as a home base. I am thinking we will do the wineries near the area but want to pack a picnic lunch. Is there a farmer's market that will be open early Sat morning in the area? Also we just realized that Sunday is easter. Does anyone have recs for a good brunch place? We plan to sleep in, eat then explore the area before returning to LA. Thanks so much for the help in advance!!

                2 Replies
                1. re: bythebayov

                  Farmers Market - the best in the area, is Saturday mornings in Santa Barbara- Cota and Santa barbara the Valley, our Farmers Market is on Wednesdays.

                  Mother Hubbards has excellent down home breakfast and lunch- great thick omelets, biscuits and gravy type breakfast! Pea Soup Andersons is a treat for us- love the Cobb Salad! The Marriot has easter brunch. Fish Tacos at Taco Roco are among my favorite- all in Buellton.

                  Nice wineries within 15 minutes of Buellton- you can make a loop of Santa Rosa Rd west up Hwy 1, east on Hwy 246...Mosby, Lafond/Santa Barbara Winery, Sanford, Alma Rosa, Lompoc Ghetto, Babcock, Melville, Dierberg......more than one afternoon can hold I am afriad.

                  If you are craving a good burger- the Red Barn in Santa Ynez has a "bar special" for $10.00- a great burger served with a tall cold Blue Moon- maybe make your last stop in Los Olivos/Santa Ynez and end up here? Worth it...

                  have a nice visit!

                  1. re: bythebayov

                    Los Olivos is only a couple miles from Buelton - I would recommend checking it out.

                    Solvang is also within a mile of there and has a lot of cute restaurants. Also has the "Taste of the valleys" wine tasting room/bar.

                    In Buelton is Cold Heaven Cellars. Old Jalama Mama has good recs for a winery loop.