Best Wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley
My husband and I have made the “trek” to the Santa Ynez Valley for wine tasting starting early in our “courtship.” In fact, we celebrated our six month dating anniversary with our first trip to Santa Barbara to take a wine country tour. Over the years, the Santa Ynez Valley and Solvang have been a frequent travel destination – in fact, before the kids were born, we went quarterly.
There are so many wonderful wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley, but these are my Five Friday favorite wineries.
- Gainey Vineyard: Gainey has always been at the top of our winery list, although it is always are last stop. Gainey is right before the highway we take to go home, so we usually stop on Sunday afternoon, before hitting the road for home. Gainey is housed in a beautiful Spanish-style building with a lot of outdoor space to enjoy a picnic. If you are a wine club member, which we were for years, you can enjoy your private tasting in the cellar room. We enjoy all of the wines at Gainey, but the Syrah has always been my favorite.
- Sunstone Vineyards and Winery: Sunstone is also one of our can’t miss wineries. The property is a beautiful castle-like building and there is outdoor space in the front to enjoy an outdoor lunch. I like that you move through different tasting areas so it never feels too crowded. I discovered I like good white wine at Sunstone. They have a wonderful Voignier and Chardonnay Reserve but my true favorites are the Rapsodie and Eros.
- Bridlewood Estate Winery: I want to qualify this by saying that if you don’t like peppery wine, this is not the winery for you. One of my favorite things about Bridlewood is actually the grounds. We have brought our kids to this winery because there is a ton of outdoor space in the front and back and the kids can really run around without being disruptive (we take turns tasting). The higher end wines are far tastier at this winery, but I enjoy all of the wine they offer.
- Foxen Vineyards and Winery: We were introduced to Foxen Vineyards by a friend who is quite the oenophile. After we tried it at his house, we decided to add it to our wine tasting trips. Foxen’s tasting room is dubbed “The Shack” and it is definitely a rustic experience. The wine, however, is not to be missed.
- Demetria Winery: I discovered this winery on a girl’s trip to the Santa Ynez valley. This winery is set in a beautiful Spanish style building and has a nice tasting room with plenty of seating. We were a group of seven and were able to find a nice table to do our wine tasting. The entire group truly enjoyed the wine and overall experience. I highly recommend checking it out!
If you’re making a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, I highly recommend staying in Solvang. It’s such a great little town with plenty of restaurant options. If you stay in Solvang, you can walk to all of the great restaurants and pick up delicious Danish pastries. If you choose to stay in Santa Barbara, you’ll be about 45 minutes (minimum) away from the wineries.
While there are a few wine tours, if you are going with a group, I suggest hiring a driver for the day so that you can try some of the less commercial wineries. We did a tour our first time out and I don’t think any of the above wineries were part of the tour (it was 15 years ago, so that may have changed). Santa Ynez is a great road trip from California. I hope you give it a try!