Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

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Michael_D
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Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#1 Post by Michael_D »

As mentioned, I’m in the planning stage of our first trip to this particular wine country region. It’s been on the “list” for the past several years, but we just haven’t committed for one reason or another. Typically, we visit one of the various wine country areas, one or two times per year (Napa/Sonoma/Wash/Oregon). Other than a few long weekends, we will make a vacation out of these trips. We’ll spend a solid week on the ground, visiting different wineries that find their way to the ‘must visit’ list. We’ll fill in blocks of time between these appointments with a few random walk in’s. We’ll also add in a couple of non-wine tasting days. Chase a white ball around, site-see, hike, whatever sounds interesting or fun. Two days in a row of tasting wine is about my limit before my pallet needs a break……

I’ve been researching this region a bit, but could use some help and advice from those of you who know the area. We will fly into LAX, grab a rental car, then head towards Los Olivos. Spend 6 or 7 days in that area, then head back to LAX and fly home. I have not secured lodging or flights yet, or made any concrete plans. We’ll most likely target the months of Sept/Oct. My group of friends and I all live in Alaska, so we avoid the hottest summer months. Plus, I like the smell in the air during the harvest season.

I was surfing the Wine Country Getaways website, and it looks like there are basically five cities/towns surrounding this area: Los Olivos, Solvang, Lompoc, Santa Ynez, and Buellton? This site also has recommended winery routes to take; Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, Santa Ynez Wine Trail, Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail. It also recommends tasting rooms in Los Olivos and Solvang. Would these all be good day trips? Grab some deli food and plan a picnic at one of the wineries each day? Or are there other areas that might be better to focus on?

As far as lodging goes, I’m leaning toward renting a house, so long as it’s close to amenities and restaurants. Actually, within walking distance would be ideal, then we don’t have to worry about a DD for dinner…. Sometimes it’s nice to just grab some fresh local ingredients and cook at the house…. Hotels are an option too. I'm open to either at this point in the planning process. Any suggestions for a town/area??

A couple of nice dinner options would be appreciated. Price point doesn’t matter if we walk out feeling good about the meal and fond memories. I didn’t mind paying the bill at Single Thread, Cyrus, or TFL, but that bill at Meadowood……I won’t go back to that restaurant any time soon. Killer food, but damn.....that bill (with wine pairing) hurt like hell.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts and questions, but I’ve probably already asked too many and don’t want to push my luck……
D - Dru

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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#2 Post by Marshall Manning »

Might try the travel forum (or a search)...I'm sure there are many posts there.
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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#3 Post by Vince L. »

There's a few threads on where/what to taste.

Your plan is solid except for the whole walking distance thing. Los Olivos has one/maybe two hotels?, And is walking distance to a few tasting rooms but otherwise you'll be driving as everything is fairly distanced from each other

You might also want to extend north a bit to Pismo if you're doing the non alcohol days... (I think Verdad Wine (Bob's Lindquist new thing) is in Arroyo Grande if you want a sip).

Food wise; My favorites in the area are Bob's Well Bread, Bell's & Full of Life in Los Alamos. Ember up in Pismo.
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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#4 Post by Anthony C »

There's another thread recently that has a lit of good suggestions, but I'll repeat mine here.

Beckmen
Los Olivos, hit a bunch of places
Foxen, the shack not the big tasting room
Hitching Post II for dinner
Solvang, because it's delightfully weird. Also some tasting rooms there as well.

I like Tercero wines, but don't know where the tasting room is. Just discovered it this BD.

Have fun.
C u r t a s

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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#5 Post by M. Meer »

Vince L. wrote: April 6th, 2021, 3:58 pm There's a few threads on where/what to taste.


You might also want to extend north a bit to Pismo if you're doing the non alcohol days... (I think Verdad Wine (Bob's Lindquist new thing) is in Arroyo Grande if you want a sip).

Food wise; My favorites in the area are Bob's Well Bread, Bell's & Full of Life in Los Alamos. Ember up in Pismo.
AG is almost another trip from the SB area. Lots of non-wine things to do and plenty of tasting rooms make it a good place to stay overnight.

Ember is great. I also like Spoon Trade in Grover Beach.
With Porter & Mackie prime rib and kale
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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#6 Post by Brian Gilp »

I personally don’t like driving from LAX, so I always fly to SBA. I find it way more relaxing. Then, it’s just 45 minutes from the airport to Buellton.

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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#7 Post by Eric Michels »

If I were going to spend a week as you describe I would lean toward staying in Santa Barbara proper. It gives you the widest range of options and things to do and all of the other places that you described are a very easy day trip from Santa Barbara. The rest of the towns seem awfully small to stay for a week.

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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#8 Post by larry schaffer »

Please reach out to me directly offline - more than happy to offer advice, etc

Cheers!
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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#9 Post by JohnWoo »

Jaffurs is my favorite SB wine, followed by Sunstone
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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#10 Post by G. D y e r »

Vince L. wrote: April 6th, 2021, 3:58 pm Your plan is solid except for the whole walking distance thing. Los Olivos has one/maybe two hotels?, And is walking distance to a few tasting rooms but otherwise you'll be driving as everything is fairly distanced from each other
Yes, this is the tricky logistical challenge.

Downtown Santa Barbara has a nice set of tasting rooms and will generously cover the restaurants and walkability aspects. But it's not central or wine-focused enough to spend a week on by itself.

Solvang is probably the best town in wine country in terms of being central and walkable, while having hotels and restaurants. Still, visiting Los Olivos, Foxen Canyon, Santa Rita Hills, etc. will require covering ground by vehicle.

While there are clusters of wineries and tasting rooms in/around Lompoc and Buellton, I'd view those as towns that happen to have wine businesses, rather than tourist-centric locales.
Greg

In that way, he is like cornerback Darrelle Revis, deserving of his own island, Mangold Island, if you will. “That would be a rusty, filthy island where people wear ripped jeans and stay in hotel rooms that are half price,” tight end Dustin Keller said. “But they would serve wine, and only the finest for Nick Mangold.”

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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#11 Post by Michael_D »

Marshall Manning wrote: April 6th, 2021, 3:08 pm Might try the travel forum (or a search)...I'm sure there are many posts there.
That was the first thing I did. I have a list going of frequently recommended wineries and restaurants that I gathered from a few SB threads, but they are tactical questions. I am looking for strategic help. I’ve used the sticky Sonoma thread above extensively for my last two trips to that area. Too bad there isn't one like that for SB.
Vince L. wrote: April 6th, 2021, 3:58 pm There's a few threads on where/what to taste.

Your plan is solid except for the whole walking distance thing. Los Olivos has one/maybe two hotels?, And is walking distance to a few tasting rooms but otherwise you'll be driving as everything is fairly distanced from each other

You might also want to extend north a bit to Pismo if you're doing the non alcohol days... (I think Verdad Wine (Bob's Lindquist new thing) is in Arroyo Grande if you want a sip).

Food wise; My favorites in the area are Bob's Well Bread, Bell's & Full of Life in Los Alamos. Ember up in Pismo.
Thanks for the tips. I have been to Pismo Beach. There is a very nice little golf course on the water’s edge we played at. Had a great time playing a quick 9 before lunch. During our last Paso trip, we spent a day wandering about Pismo and up to Morro Bay. Basically just did a loop and stopped at anything that looked interesting.
Anthony C wrote: April 6th, 2021, 4:14 pm There's another thread recently that has a lit of good suggestions, but I'll repeat mine here.

Beckmen
Los Olivos, hit a bunch of places
Foxen, the shack not the big tasting room
Hitching Post II for dinner
Solvang, because it's delightfully weird. Also some tasting rooms there as well.

I like Tercero wines, but don't know where the tasting room is. Just discovered it this BD.

Have fun.
Thanks! Tercero is definitely on my list. He has some interesting wines I want to try.

“Delightfully weird” – my kind of place. [cheers.gif]
Brian Gilp wrote: April 6th, 2021, 5:10 pm I personally don’t like driving from LAX, so I always fly to SBA. I find it way more relaxing. Then, it’s just 45 minutes from the airport to Buellton.
I don’t like driving anywhere near LA…. Good idea. I’ll check flights in/out of SBA.
larry schaffer wrote: April 6th, 2021, 10:31 pm Please reach out to me directly offline - more than happy to offer advice, etc

Cheers!
I will, thanks!
D - Dru

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Re: Planning first time trip to Santa Barbara County, tips/advice?

#12 Post by bret siciliano »

I typically take the Foxen Canyon trail. It’s about 25 miles long. At the back end it hits Santa Maria and the 101 so you can take the freeway back. Definitely agree with the Foxen Shack - good wine; great vibe. Andrew Murray is good too. If you make it to the end Riverbench and Rancho Sisiquoc are worth a visit. Los Olivios is quaint and you can walk to about 6-7 tasting rooms. Starlike pairs wines with cupcakes. There is a deli that has great sandwiches.

Sunstone (not on Foxen Canyon Trail) has nice grounds and wine is good.

Lompoc has the “wine ghetto”. It is essentially a series of bungalows with tasting rooms. You can find Sea Smoke and others their. Good wines, but not much to look at.

Stay in Solvang. Plenty of places. You may consider and Air BnB.

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