Santa Barbara Wineries

Santa Barbara Wineries

Santa Barbara is home to a rapidly growing wine industry that actually started as early as 1782. The story has it that Father Junipero Serra first brought grapes to Santa Barbara from Mexico; at around the same time the French settler Justinian Caire brought vines from France and started a 150-acre vineyard. The wine industry around Santa Barbara grew steadily until a large hiccup in the form of the prohibition and the depression in the early 1900s.

Santa Barbara county has, apparently, perfect grape-growing geography. The Pacific coastline bends round at that point, so that the shore is actually running east-west, instead of north-south. The Santa Ynez mountain range runs parallel to it, and the valley between the mountains is blessed with golden sunny days and cool nights: perfect for grapes.

In the last 30 years, the Santa Barbara wine industry has once again blossomed: in 1970 there were fewer than 200 acres of vineyards, and now there are over 20,000 acres. Today there are over 60 different wineries, mostly small operations owned by individuals or families, as opposed to corporations. The wines of the Santa Barbara county are steadily gaining recognition as some of the best of the California wines, not only because of the ideal climatic conditions but also due to the perseverance and skill of the winemakers. The wine that the area is most known for is the Chardonnay, Santa Barbara wineries also produce a very popular Pinot Noir. Other kinds of wine to look out for are Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah and Merlot.

It is only about a 45-minute drive to get to the vineyards of Santa Barbara county from downtown Santa Barbara. The most scenic road to take out there is the California route 154, the San Marcos Pass, which goes through the Santa Ynez mountain range. The wineries of Santa Barbara are accessible mostly from three main routes: the Santa Ynez wine trail, the Foxen Canyon wine trail and the Santa Rita Hills loop. Most of the wineries are open for tours and tasting between the hours of 10am and 4pm, although if you are traveling in a large party of more than ten people it’s probably best to call ahead for an appointment. Many wineries also offer lunch and other gourmet food products for sale. The nearby town of Los Olivos and the Danish town of Solvang also offer wine tasting.

While it is very pleasant to just take your own car and discover the Santa Barbara county for yourself, you might want to take a guided tour of the wineries. There are a few options for this. It is possible to just hire a guide for the day, who will hop in your car with you and tell you all about wherever you want to go. Another option is to take a tour where the guide does all the driving; for a day of wine tasting, this might be a better option for a more relaxing experience. A good resource for finding out about guided tours is the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, (800) 218 0881.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.