Above: The vineyards at Melville Winery near Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara’s wine country comprises both rural estates in the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria valleys and urban wineries in towns like Solvang, Buellton and Lompoc. The Santa Ynez is the longest east-to-west valley on the western Pacific Coast, with a microclimate that is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. That has not stopped vignerons there from producing an incredible array of wines, including Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. There are nine wine-tasting routes that can be followed, but my preferred strategy is to pick a winery and have the staff at the tasting room recommend my next stop based on my obvious preferences.

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