By Allison Levine, Foodable Contributor
When going wine tasting, the question that always arises is “who is the designated driver?” This is the person (perhaps, like me, it’s always you) who might get to take a little sip here or there but for the most part holds on to their water bottle while the rest of the group sips away so that they can drive to the next location. But, there is a solution that lets the designated driver partake with everyone else.
There are many beautiful estates to visit when you are in Santa Barbara Wine Country and of course we love to visit these. But, the region is also filled with many small wine producers who don’t have private estates open to the public. Instead, they have set up tasting rooms in centralized areas where you can walk from one to another. In fact, you will probably taste more wines this way than if you were to drive from winery to winery and Santa Barbara Wine Country offers 5 different areas like these.
Say goodbye to the designated driver because you can get a hotel room in one of these areas and walk. Or, take a short taxi ride from your hotel. Of course, if you are driving up from LA for the day, there will still have to be one responsible person.
Los Olivos is the most well-known town in Santa Barbara wine country. A historic town of 1,000 residents, it is small and charming, consisting primarily of two intersecting streets. With more than 35 tasting rooms, you can happily wander from wine bar to wine bar, while stopping along the way for lunch at the Los Olivos Café or shopping in one of the boutiques.
Los Olivos Tasting Rooms:
Alexander & Wayne Tasting Room, Alta Maria Vineyards, Andrew Murray Vineyards & Tasting Room, Arthur Earl, Artiste Winery & Tasting Studio, Barbieri Wine Company, Bernat Vineyard & Winery, Blair Fox Cellars, Byron, Carharrt Vineyard, Carina Cellars Tasting Room, Cimarone Wines, Cinque Stelle Winery, Consilience / Tre Anelli, Coquelicot Estate Vineyard, Daniel Gehrs Wines, Dragonette Cellars, Dreamcôte Wine Co., E&T Wines & Tessa Marie, Epiphany Cellars, Evan’s Ranch / Gainey Vineyard, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., J. Ludlow Vineyards, Kaena Wine Company, Larner Vineyard and Winery, Longoria Wines, Los Olivos Tasting Room & Wine Shop, Malibu Family Wines Los Olivos, Qupè Wine Cellars Tasting Room, Refugio Ranch Vineyards, Saarloos & Sons Wine Tasting Room, SAMsARA, San Marcos Tres Hermanas Winery, Stolpman Vineyards, LLC, Tercero Wines & Tasting Room, The Watering Hole, Toretti Family Vineyard, Verdad & Ethan Wines and Zinke Wine Co.
While you might think of Solvang as that touristy Danish town with windmills and aebleskivers (Danish doughnut holes), new tasting rooms have been popping up. Between pastries, you can walk through the town and taste wine at more than a dozen tasting rooms.
Another option is to stop at the Wandering Dog Wine Bar where a variety of local (and international) wineries are represented and you can order various flights or tastes.
Solvang Tasting Rooms:
Carivintas Winery, Casa Cassara Winery, Dascomb Cellars, H & P's Vinhus Ltd, Lions Peak Vineyards, Lucas & Lewellen, Lucky Dogg Winery, Olive House, Presidio Winery Wine Tasting, Royal Oaks Winery, Sante Wine Bar & Lounge, Sevtap Winery, The Good Life, Toccata Tasting Room and Viking Gardens Cellars
The quaint town of Los Alamos is one of the newer tasting areas in the region. Founded in 1876, this one road town is somewhat frozen in time, housing the only surviving depot of the Pacific Coast Railway. Currently there are only 5 tastings rooms, but keep an eye on this area. With a handful of tasty restaurants, more and more tasting rooms are bound to open up.
Los Alamos Tasting Rooms:
Bedford Winery, Casa Dumetz, Municipal, The Depot Mall and Wine Pub and The Wine Saloon
Lompoc Wine Ghetto
There is nothing romantic or glamorous about Lompoc but the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is the second largest concentration of tasting rooms in Santa Barbara. The Lompoc Ghetto is an industrial center that started in 1998 when winemakers, including Rick Longoria, first converted the warehouses into wine production facilities. Today there are more than two dozen wineries making their wines in the Ghetto.
Lompoc Wine Ghetto Tasting Rooms:
Ampelos Cellars, Arcadian Winery, Bratcher Winery, De Su Propia Cosecha, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, Jalama Wines, Joseph Blair Wines, La Vie Vineyards, Longoria Wines, Loring Wine Company, La Montagne Winery, Montemar, Moretti Wines, Pali Wine Company, Palmina Wines, Piedrasassi, Samsara Wines, Stolpman Vineyards, Taste of Sta. Rita Hills, Tyler Winery and Zotovich Cellars
And just outside the Ghetto, you can find Brewer-Clifton, JCR Vineyard, Scott Cellars, Transcendence and Turiya.
Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail
You don’t have to head all the way to wine country if you want to taste Santa Barbara wines. Within blocks of downtown Santa Barbara and the beach, you can find the Funk Zone and the heart of the Urban Wine Trail. This former industrial district has been converted to a creative area filled with art galleries, restaurants and tasting rooms.
And if you want to get a bite to eat while tasting wines, don’t miss Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant where you can select from a list of local domestic wines as well as international wines.
Urban Wine Trail Tasting Rooms:
Area 5.1 Winery, Au Bon Climat, AVA Santa Barbara, Carr Vineyards and Winery, Cottonwood Canyon, Deep Sea Tasting Room, Fox Wine Co., Grassini Family Vineyards, Happy Canyon Vineyards, Jaffurs Wine Cellars, Kalyra Winery, Kunin Wines, Lafond Winery, Margerum Wine Company, Municipal Winemakers, Oreana Winery, Pali Wine Company, Riverbench Winery, Sanford, Sanguis, Santa Barbara Winery, Silver, Summerland Winery, The Santa Barbara Wine Collective (a communal tasting room for winemakers Eric Railsback, Ernst Storm, Justin Willett and Dustin Wilson) and Whitcraft Winery.
Now everyone can have fun tasting some of the best wines Santa Barbara Wine Country has to offer.