Best Santa Barbara Wineries To Visit

  • 203673
  • 0
Santa Barbara

Best Santa Barbara Wineries To Visit

By Hana-Lee Sedgwick April 30, 2024

While Santa Barbara is known the world over for its Spanish Colonial architecture, historical monuments, picturesque scenery, and temperate weather year-round, make no mistake that this coastal California darling is a worthy destination for wine enthusiasts, too.

Santa Barbara Wine Country is unique in that it is situated between transverse mountain ranges, allowing for cooling ocean influences to funnel inland and create idyllic growing conditions for a wide variety of grapes. In fact, throughout its 20,000 acres of vineyards, there are over 65 different varietals planted. While Santa Barbara has established a reputation for world-class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah, you’ll also find deeply-nuanced Bordeaux varietals, elegant Rhône-style wines, and even Spanish and Italian varietals.

With over 280 wineries throughout the region, we realize that planning a day or two of wine tasting is no easy feat. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best Santa Barbara wineries to visit. Whether you’re jonesing for a taste of Chardonnay with a view or are looking for an excursion through the vines, we’ve done all the leg work so that all you need to do is show up, sip, and enjoy! That said, definitely don’t feel limited to this list, as Santa Barbara County has a number of exceptional wineries worth exploring.

Culinary Excellence

Presqu’ile | Airyka Rockefeller
Photo courtesy of Presqu’ile | Airyka Rockefeller

Family-owned Presqu’ile, which is Creole for ‘almost an island,’ is focused on producing exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah, much of which is sourced from their estate vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Not only does this beautiful estate impress with its state-of-the-art, gravity-flow winery, which has received numerous accolades for its contemporary design, but the winery has a noteworthy culinary program, as well. The Wine + Food Experience is a delight, featuring a tasting flight of current releases paired with a vibrant Mezze Picnic spread. While Executive Chef Julie Simon’s offerings change with the seasons, you can always expect the delicious assortment to highlight local and seasonal ingredients, including those from Presqu’ile’s own organic garden. Not drinking? No problem—the experience can be enjoyed without the wine for a reduced price.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss their fun concert series in the summer months, which takes place at the winery’s outdoor amphitheater.

5391 Presqu’ile Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 937-8110

Secluded Serenity

The Hilt
Photo courtesy of The Hilt

Tucked at the far end of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, The Hilt is an enchanting destination for those seeking a tranquil escape into the world of fine wines. This renowned winery specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other varieties that thrive in the cool, often extreme climate of its coastal estate vineyards. Visitors who make the trek to The Barn at The Hilt Estate are treated to a tasting experience inside the modern, yet understated “tasting barn”—designed by famed Wine Country architects Backen & Backen, with interior design by Amber Interiors. Offering picturesque views of the vineyard, this secluded sanctuary is a memorable place to taste The Hilt’s thoughtfully crafted wines alongside acclaimed Bordeaux gems from sister winery, JONATA.

Insider Tip: For a comprehensive look at the wines of both JONATA and The Hilt, book the Private Library Tasting, which features a coveted selection of library wines from the two estates. As a bonus, you’ll be seated in a private nook of the barn, complete with cozy fireplace—perfect for beating the late afternoon cold spell so typical in this part of the Valley.

2240 Santa Rosa Road, Lompoc, CA 93436, (805) 564-8581

Vineyard Excursions

Crown Point Vineyards
Photo courtesy of Crown Point Vineyards

Book the Vineyard Tour at the Bordeaux-focused Crown Point Vineyards and you’ll not only get to experience the renowned wines of this beautiful Happy Canyon estate, but you’ll also get a tour of the property via a four-seat off-road vehicle. During this intimate 90-minute experience, you’ll get a true insider’s look into the winery, estate vineyards, and barrel rooms, along with a private seated tasting of their limited-production current releases paired with a selection of cheeses.

Insider Tip: Being a member of Crown Point’s Allocation List has its perks—not only will you secure a selection of their highly coveted wines, but also get private access to the Member’s Lounge, where you can sip complimentary glasses of wine with cheese and Italian coffee. Members also receive a significant discount on the Past, Present, and Future Tasting—an exclusive experience showcasing library wines, current releases, and barrel tastings, offering a comprehensive deep-dive into the nuances and evolution of Crown Point’s wine program.

1733 Fletcher Way, Santa Ynez, CA 93460, (805) 693-9300

Farm to Fork, Grape to Glass

Photos courtesy of Roblar Winery

Situated on 40 acres just off Highway 154 near Los Olivos, family-owned Roblar Winery and Vineyards seamlessly integrates winemaking with farm-to-table dining, offering a farm to fork, vine to glass experience. At the tasting room, you can sample current releases from the winery’s extensive portfolio alongside seasonal fare from Roblar’s Executive Chef, Peter Cham. His menus are heavily influenced by the produce and herbs that grow on the adjoining five-acre organic Roblar Farm, ensuring each bite is as fresh and in-season as possible. While the food offerings change frequently, if visiting on a Thursday, don’t miss the fried chicken special—a menu staple that has a loyal following.

Insider Tip: Extend your stay for a true ‘agritourism’ experience by booking one of the two rental homes on the property: the charming three-bedroom Casita, which overlooks the farm, or the more grandiose five-bedroom estate home, complete with a pool and hot tub. Additional on-site lodging options are in the works.

3010 Roblar Avenue, Santa Ynez, CA 93460, (805) 686-2603

Al Fresco Allure

Peake Ranch
Photo courtesy of Peake Ranch

Peake Ranch is a tastefully modern winery situated in a beautiful stretch of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in meticulously-crafted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah, Peake Ranch’s notable wines can be enjoyed from the tranquil setting of the winery’s chic outdoor patio. Here, views of the natural surroundings encourage relaxation and an appreciation for nature’s splendor, creating the perfect environment for tasting exquisite wines.

Insider Tip: While Peake Ranch does not serve food, guests are welcome to bring their own picnics. Consider picking up a pizza or hearty sandwiches from Industrial Eats in Buellton before making the 10-minute drive to the winery.

7290 Santa Rosa Road, Buellton, CA 93427, (805) 688-7093

Hikes & History

Alma Rosa Vineyards & Winery
Photo Courtesy of Alma Rosa Vineyards & Winery

Alma Rosa, which was founded by Santa Barbara wine-growing pioneer, Richard Sanford, has earned a strong reputation for its cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which can be enjoyed in its tasting room in Solvang. However, if you’re looking for a more special experience that allows you to get up close and personal to the vines, check out one of the private tasting options at Alma Rosa’s historic Sta. Rita Hills ranch. The two Outdoor Hike Experiences each feature a guided hike through the vineyards along with a private wine tasting at their historic ranch house, paired perfectly with an artisan cheese plate.

Insider Tip: Founder Richard Sanford was the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Central Coast region of California. Though he no longer makes the wine at Alma Rosa, Head Winemaker Samra Morris—the first Bosnian winemaker in the U.S.—is carrying on Sanford’s Pinot Noir legacy. Don’t miss sampling her acclaimed single-vineyard Pinots, each a beautiful expression of site.

Solvang Tasting Room: 1623 Mission Drive, Ste M, Solvang, CA 93463, (805) 691-9395
Alma Rosa Vineyards: 7250 Santa Rosa Road, Buellton, CA 93427

A Multigenerational Legacy

Photos courtesy of Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker Winery stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of its founder, actor-turned-vintner Fess Parker, who established the winery in 1989. Today, the winery is proudly operated by the second and third generations of the Parker family, who continue the patriarch’s vision of crafting high-quality wines alongside exceptional hospitality experiences. You can sample the family’s Rhône wines from their Foxen Canyon winery, where a renovated tasting room pays homage to the family’s roots, as well as from their downtown Santa Barbara tasting room located in the heart of the Funk Zone neighborhood. However, a memorable way to experience this long-standing family winery is to reserve a private or semi-private horseback ride through the 714-acre Home Ranch. During the 75-minute ride, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Santa Ynez Valley while discovering the lay of the land, followed by a seated tasting of Fess Parker wines.

Insider Tip: For a special tasting experience sans horses, book the Library Room tasting at Fess Parker Winery. Your group of up to eight people will enjoy a fully customized tasting flight inside a chic, glass-enclosed wine room, making you feel like a true VIP.

6200 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos, CA 93441, (805) 688-1545

Bordeaux on a Bluff

Photo courtesy of Grimm’s Bluff

Grimm’s Bluff specializes in Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon made from its Biodynamic and Certified Organic vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. While you could easily sample the selection from the Grimm’s Bluff tasting room in downtown Los Olivos, it’s certainly worth your while to pay a visit to the Grimm family’s stunning ranch. The 246-acre property, situated above the Santa Ynez River roughly 850 feet above sea level, is home to the family’s 16.5-acre vineyard, along with farm animals and picturesque surroundings. Book the VIP Wine Tasting & Ranch Tour for a chance to see the vines (and animals!) up close and personal, followed by a tasting of exclusive reserve wines paired with cheese and olive oil.

Insider Tip: Even if you think you don’t enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, give it a try here. Their bottlings are much more reminiscent of Sancerre from the Loire Valley than of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and you may discover you’re indeed a fan.

Los Olivos Tasting Room: 2445 Alamo Pintado Ave #102, Los Olivos, CA 93441, (805) 691-9065
Grimm’s Bluff Estate: Off Highway 154

Go Behind-the-Scenes

Photos courtesy of Dragonette

Dragonette is a collaboration between brothers John and Steve Dragonette and close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis, who have built a loyal following for their excellent examples of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhone varieties, each sourced from esteemed vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County. While Dragonette has a tasting room in downtown Los Olivos, it’s worth booking a private tasting at their production facility in Buellton at least once. This behind-the-scenes experience offers a deep-dive into all things Dragonette, covering everything from the vineyard sites they work with to their winemaking techniques and philosophies. And, because the tasting takes place within the working production space, you may very well see some of the winemaking process in action.

Insider Tip: Dragonette’s wines regularly receive top scores from discerning critics, from their Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays to their Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. Because quantities are limited, it’s best not to sit on any of the wines when they’re released, as you may not have another chance to get them. But once you do secure them, you can let them sit, as they will age gracefully for a while.

Production Facility: 55 Los Padres Way #1, Buellton, CA 93427, (805) 688-8440
Tasting Room: 2445 Alamo Pintado, Los Olivos, CA 93441, (805) 693-0077

For Sparkling Wine Fans

Riverbench Vineyard & Winery
Photo Courtesy of Riverbench Vineyard & Winery

Though many producers throughout Santa Barbara make sparkling wine, there are only a select few offering multiple styles of bubbly. One such producer is the long-standing Riverbench Winery, makers of still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines as well as a range of sparkling wines inspired by the traditional methods used in France—think Brut rosé, Blanc de Blancs, and even a sparkling made from estate-grown Pinot Meunier. Stop by their Funk Zone tasting room for a sampling, or make a day of it by venturing out to their winery located along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail in Santa Maria. Sit outside in the relaxed garden to make the most of the vineyard views and peaceful surroundings.

Insider Tip: Riverbench, located on the cusp of the Santa Maria Valley AVA, may seem a bit remote as compared to other parts of the Valley, but there are plenty of great wineries nearby. Continue your wine journey with stops at Cambria Winery and The Gatehouse at Bien Nacido, which will complete your understanding of the Santa Maria Valley appellation.

Santa Barbara Tasting Room: 137 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (805) 324-4100
Santa Maria Tasting Room: 6020 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria, CA 93454, (805) 937-8340

Lean & Mean Burgundian Varietals

Santa Barbara Wine Country
Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Wine Country

Whitcraft Winery, located in a nondescript building several blocks away from the buzz of the Funk Zone, is one of the few urban wineries in downtown Santa Barbara. Within the relaxed, no-frills tasting space (located on the other side of the wall from the production facility), you can taste Drake Whitcraft’s handcrafted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines—each made in the same lean, unadulterated, and sometimes edgy style that his late father became known for. Whitcraft also produces exceptional examples of Syrah, Grenache, and other varieties, too, so don’t feel limited to just Burgundian wines.

Insider Tip: Whitcraft’s wines are truly made in limited quantities and much of what is produced goes to club members. If you like the wine, stock up because these highly allocated wines are coveted for good reason.

36 S. Calle Cesar Chavez, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, (805) 730-1680

Animals & Wine

Photos courtesy of Folded Hills

Folded Hills has a tasting room in the heart of Montecito, but to better understand this family-owned winery, head to the tasting room at the Busch family’s 600-acre ranch in Gaviota. Located in the original 1898 ranch house, the renovated space has transformed into a casual and chic tasting room, offering both indoor and outdoor spaces from which to sip and savor their limited-production Rhône varietal wines. The vibe here is relaxed and inviting—don’t be surprised if you get the urge to kick your boots up and stay a while—but be sure to make time to check out the Folded Hills Farmstead across the street. There, you’ll find several of the ranch’s four-legged friends, including pigs, goats, donkeys, and more, along with buckets of farm produce available (for a fee) to feed them.

Insider Tip: If you want to see George, Folded Hills’ famous camel, you’ll have to book a tour and tasting at the private ranch. In addition to meeting the Busch family’s friendly camel, you’ll also get to visit with their iconic Budweiser Clydesdales and a zebra named Zazu.

Montecito Tasting Room: 1294 Coast Village Road, Montecito, CA 93108, (805) 694-8086
Folded Hills Tasting Room at the Homestead: 2323 Old Coast Highway, Gaviota, CA 93117, (805) 694-8086

Urban Tasting Rooms to Note

Storm Wines
Storm Wines

Family owned and operated Storm Wines is a must-visit tasting room in Los Olivos, both for its limited-production wine and welcoming vibes. The inviting indoor/outdoor space serves as a relaxing spot to sip on acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc, Carbonic Cabernet Franc, and nuanced Pinot Noir wines from winemaker Ernst Storm.

The Valley Project
The Valley Project

This minimalist urban tasting room in Santa Barbara’s bustling Funk Zone has one impressive focal point you can’t miss: a floor-to-ceiling chalk art mural depicting Santa Barbara’s growing areas. Sip on carefully crafted, small-lot wines from throughout the region’s diverse AVAs as you acquaint yourself with the lay of the land.

A Tribute to Grace
A Tribute to Grace

Grenache is the name of the game at this boutique tasting room in Los Alamos, owned by winemaker Angela Osborne. While her portfolio is entirely dedicated to Grenache, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the nuances between each offering. We have a feeling you’ll be a Grenache fan in no time.

Frequency Wine Co.
Frequency Wine Co.

The expansive patio at Frequency Wine Co. is the place to be on a nice day in downtown Santa Barbara. With light pink umbrellas, a fountain, and ample seating, the dog- and kid-friendly patio is an idyllic spot to sip small-lot Central Coast wines.

Carhartt Vineyards
Carhartt Vineyards

If you’re looking for a place where the door’s always open (well, at least 364 days a year) and the atmosphere is as relaxed as being at a friend’s house, then Carhartt Vineyards is the spot. This family-owned tasting room in downtown Los Olivos draws visitors for its large selection of bottlings and down-to-earth vibes.

Deep Sea Wine
Deep Sea Wine

Located on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, Conway Family Wines’ Deep Sea tasting room is the city’s only place to sample wines directly above the ocean. If you time it right, snag a seat on the patio before the sun goes down to enjoy spectacular “golden hour” views of the coastline and mountains while you sip.

Municipal Winemakers
Municipal Winemakers

This former dive shop in the Funk Zone features old school décor and a retro vibe that removes all pretense surrounding wine tasting. With regular events, pop up oyster bars, and a menu of wines showcasing graphic, brightly colored labels, you can expect this tasting room to attract a hip, youthful crowd looking to chill with a bottle of wine.