Santa Barbara, CA – Wine Country Trip

Steve and I spent New Years in the small town of Los Olivos, CA, which is about 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara.  We rented the same small rental home that we have stayed in several times before which is located one block off the main town square and is a perfect location for the area.

Main Square of Los Olivos, CA.  Such a cute town!
Flowers everywhere and wine tasting rooms and shops

Thankfully, American Airlines has added a daily direct flight from DFW to SBA so we no longer have to connect through Phoenix or Los Angeles – this makes it so much more efficient and easy to get there now.  We had a smooth 3 hour flight to SBA, picked up our rental car and were on our way within less than 30 minutes of landing (the SBA airport is super small).

Lots of produce farming in the area as well as vineyards
Back patio of our rustic rental house
Comfortable backyard with arbor and herb garden

It’s a beautiful drive up Highway 101 North and we always make a little detour through the town of Solvang on our way to Los Olivos.  Los Olivos is a small 2 block by 2 block town but it has over 30 wine tasting rooms packed into such a small area.  It also has some really good restaurants (I’ll try to cover my favorites in the area in a separate post) and few cute gift shops for such a small town.

Whimsical garden store in Los Olivos

Steve and I spent our weekend sleeping in, going for morning walks and then we would head out for lunch around noon and do 2 to 3 wine tastings each day.  We were also blessed with amazing weather every day as you can see by the pictures.  It would be around 75 degrees for the high but get down into the low 40s at night.

We have a few different wineries that we always like to visit when we stay out here.  Our first day we stopped by Blackjack Vineyard which makes some nice whites and some Bordeaux style reds.  Our next day we headed over towards Lompoc and the Santa Rita Hills sub-AVA, which is mostly known for rich pinot noirs and chardonnays.

Driving the Santa Rosa Road – you can see how dry everything is b/c of the drought
Some vines still had pretty red and yellow leaves on them though many were bare by now



You can make this drive in a loop by taking the scenic Santa Rosa Road through the valley back towards Los Olivos.  We stopped at Sanford Winery and La Fond Winery on this trip.  There is also a really cool spot known as “the wine ghetto” in Lompoc itself where 25+ wineries have small tasting rooms in a very un-scenic industrial park.  It may not look like much but it’s a great spot to find small production wine makers in the area.

Picnic lunch at Foxen Winery (my hair was a little frizzy this day)
Tri-tip sandwich from the local grocery store in Los Olivos – best sandwich in the area!

Our third day we went the opposite direction towards Los Alamos down Foxen Canyon Road, which is probably even more scenic.  We stopped and did a tasting and then had a picnic lunch at Foxen Winery, which is one of our favorites.  We then headed back into Los Olivos and stopped into Nielson (f/k/a Byron), Stolpman Winery and Dragonette Winery for tastings.  After that, I was pretty wined out for the day.

View along Foxen Canyon Road
Foxen Canyon Road


New Years Eve was pretty low key and we drove over to Solvang and walked around a bit and I did a little shopping in town.  I was rather tired of wine tasting by the 4th day so I took it easy and had an afternoon walk followed by a nap.  We had a casual pizza dinner and I was in bed by 9pm that night!  The next day we were up bright and early to get ready because we were leaving the wine country area and heading back to Santa Barbara and the beach for a final one night stay at The Ritz Carlton Bacara Resort, which I’ll post about next!  Hope everyone had a wonderful New Years and here’s to 2018!

Last night by the Beach at the Ritz Carlton Bacara 

For a little summary, here are my favorite wine tasting rooms and wineries in the area to visit:

  • Foxen Winery on Foxen Canyon Road
  • Alma Rosa Winery in Buellton
  • Sanford Winery on Santa Rosa Road
  • LaFond Winery on Santa Rosa Road
  • Loring Winery in Buellton
  • Zotovich Wines in Lompoc Wine Ghetto
  • Palmina Wines in Lompoc Wine Ghetto
  • Samsara Wines in Los Olivos
  • Nielson by Byron Wines in Los Olivos
  • Dragonette Wines in Los Olivos

We may revisit the area next summer when there will be grapes on the vines and warmer summer nights!



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