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

Santa Barbara Wine Country

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.

Sunstone Vineyards & Winery

The vineyards at Sunstone Vineyards & Winery - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Set on a 55-acre estate about 40 minutes northwest of Santa Barbara, this winery prides itself on being one of the first organic vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. The vineyards were initially planted in 1990 and are owned and maintained by acclaimed winemaker Bion Rice. We entered via a winding drive through the vines, ducked under a trellis heavy with grapes and found ourselves in the center of a courtyard where picnic tables were shaded by mature oaks. The air was filled with the scent of lavender, and we were overwhelmed by a feeling of tranquility as we soaked in impressive views of the valley. The winery produces Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, and the tasting room is housed in a villa made from reclaimed limestone imported from France. The property also has a separate Tuscan-style villa encompassing five guest suites that is ideal for family gatherings.

Sunstone Vineyards & Winery
125 Refugio Road, Santa Ynez. Tel. (805) 688-9463

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