There’s so much to explore in Santa Barbara County that one weekend, or even a whole week, would never be enough to experience everything!
As someone who lives in California, I can tell you that each time I come down, I still manage to have a completely brand new experience! This guide includes some of my favorite wineries and tasting rooms – so far!
Keep reading to discover some of the best wineries in Santa Barbara.
From Ocean to Mountains: A Journey Through Santa Barbara County’s Seven AVAs
Santa Barbara County is home to seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and nine wine trails! You’ll find an incredible amount of variety here, and even though it’s not Napa Valley, you can still find everything you need to have the quintessential California Wine Country experience here.
This guide is in no way exhaustive, but it is a great jumping off point and includes some of the most popular and award winning wineries in Santa Barbara.
One of my go-to recommendations when I’m exploring is to ask the locals for suggestions; I’ve found so many great spots this way, and leaving yourself open to unexpected opportunities always makes for a fun trip!
Santa Maria Valley
The Santa Maria Valley straddles the boundary of Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County. It’s the Central Coast’s oldest wine growing region and home to some of the state’s most historic wines, so to really soak it all in, I suggest trying out the Santa Maria Wine Trolley.
Au Bon Climat
You’ll find this charming tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara in the middle of the historic Presidio Neighborhood.
While you’re here, you’ll be able to enjoy current releases and an entire library of Au Bon Climat wines. Since Au Bon Climat has been crafting award winning wines for more than four decades, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from when you come to visit.
These wines are beautifully balanced, age gracefully, and have shown well for decades.
There’s so many vineyards with breathtaking views, but at Presqu’ile Winery, perched atop a hill, you’ll get to take in the sights of the rolling vineyard hills and the ocean.
Whether you’re seated outside, or have a comfortable seat inside the luxurious tasting room, you’ll have your pick of cool-climate wines and chef-curated food pairings.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not try the estate horseback tour and tasting?!
Santa Rita Hills
Because of its proximity to the coast, this unique growing region sees fog-laden mornings, and sunny afternoons punctuated by a cool ocean breeze. The unique, cool climate and nutrient rich soils you’ll find here makes the Santa Rita Hills an ideal place to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Strange Family Vineyards
The Strange Family Vineyards Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are almost as stunning as the epic views!
They offer a fully outdoors tasting experience at their vineyards, but if you can’t make it into the Santa Rita Hills during this visit, you can check out their Malibu tasting room.
What I really love most about the Strange Family – apart from their delicious wines, of course – is the way they look to make everyday life a celebration!
Ellen Dierberg Milne and Michael Dierberg are second generation winegrowers who’ve taken a sustainable approach to producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Drum Canyon. They also happen to be siblings!
The gorgeous tasting room offers visitors a touch of elegance and relaxation, but if you want to get your heart rate pumping, they also have a hike and taste experience, too. So fun!
Alma Rosa Vineyard & Winery
You’ll fall in love with these layered, vibrant and balanced wines that help reflect the special terroir of the Sta. Rita Hills!
The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made here are a must, but you should also grab a glass (or two!) of their Rhône varietals.
They have a stylish tasting room in the heart of Solvang, but if you’re someone who likes to drink your wines in the exact same place they’re made, you can schedule a private tasting at their nearby ranch.
Found in the easternmost part of the Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon is actually the warmest microclimate in the valley.
Because the soils are low in nutrients, you’ll find smaller vines but high quality wine grapes. Popular varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, among others.
Grassini Family Vineyard
You’ll find their award-winning tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara, but if you’re willing to take the trip, the Grassini Family Vineyard is only 45 minutes away!
Imagine yourself leisurely sipping wines with the backdrop of vineyard landscapes while seated by a picturesque pond.
If you decide to venture into Happy Canyon, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the artistry that goes behind the scenes, and get a great introduction to their handcrafted Bordeaux varietals. If you want to visit the vineyard, though, make sure you make an appointment well in advance.
Star Lane Vineyard
If you love a good glass of Cabernet, this is the place for you!
Star Lane Vineyard is run by the same sibling duo responsible for Dierberg Vineyard in the Santa Rita Valley, and they proudly serve up world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.
Did I mention that this private family estate features a gravity flow winery and subterranean caves? If you want to go behind the scenes, though, you’ll want to make a reservation well in advance!
Ballard Canyon sits between the cool, coastal climate of the Santa Rita Valley, and the much warmer climate of Happy Canyon. Despite coastal winds getting funneled into the Santa Ynez Valley, this long, thin canyon runs from North to South and is sheltered from the worst of the maritime effects.
If you’re a fan of sustainable wines, Jonata embraces polyface farming – which calls for integrating and revolving livestock to naturally enhance the health of the soil and the land. They also maintain a large communal garden and orchard, produce their own estate olive oil, and make honey from bees raised on the ranch.
You can feel really good about the wine that’s grown here, but you’ll be even better about how it tastes! Come check out these award-winning wines for yourself!
At Beckmen Vineyards, you’ll find premium, estate-grown wines made in harmony with nature. They take pride in the fact that their wines reflect a sense of place.
They have two vineyards – one in Los Olivos, and another in Ballard Canyon.
The certified biodynamic Purisima Mountain Vineyard in Ballard Canyon features unique, limestone subsoil which is only found in a few corners of the central coast. These soils are prized in regions like Champagne, Burgundy, and the Southern Rhône Valley for producing wines with intense flavors and complexity.
For anyone who loves dry red wines, this small town needs to find its way onto your wine country bucket list. The unique terrier and climate helps to create some unforgettable bottles of wine.
If you’re someone who loves Syrah, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to Stolpman Vineyards.
The unique, limestone soils found in the Ballard Canyon AVA receives unobstructed breezes off the Pacific Ocean, creating ideal growing conditions for Syrah and Roussanne grapes.
And if you’re someone who loves unique wine tasting experiences, once a month, Stolpman Vineyards offers a vineyard hike.
Saarloos & Sons
Where else can you find a fine wine and cupcake pairing menu?!
Saarloos & Sons is a wonderfully unique and fun tasting experience, and I can’t recommend it enough! You’ll feel right at home as soon as you step foot into this charming, yet strikingly stylish home-turned-tasting room.
The outdoor patio is also stunning, and a great place to enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc alongside some delectable mini cupcakes!
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
This is one of my absolute favorite wineries – the wines here are fantastic, the tasting room is stunning, and Ashley Parker Snider has been part of her family’s legacy for more than three decades!
The Fess Parker Winery specializes in estate grown Syrah, Riesling, and Viognier, as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley AVAs.
In all, you’ll find more than 100 planted acres of estate vineyard on the beautiful Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.
They also have multiple tasting rooms in Los Olivos, along with an inn and brewery! It’s one of the top destinations in the Santa Ynez Valley, and absolutely needs to be on your itinerary!
Santa Ynez Valley
Many of the regions you’ll find in this guide fall inside of the Santa Ynez Valley.
It’s home to beautiful rolling hills, welcoming tasting rooms, and a quintessential wine country experience. If you can afford an entire afternoon, I highly recommend Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours!
Folded Hills Winery
When I went on the Santa Barbara Wine Country Tour a few years ago with my friends, the day kicked off at Folded Hills! And oh boy! What a great way to start off the day!
This family winery has strong beliefs rooted in sustainability and produces beautiful biodynamic wines. Their tasting room is charming and inviting, and surrounded by lavender and fruit trees. It was truly a bucolic dream!
When you visit this stunning farmstead, be sure to say hello to George the Camel!
The second stop of our day was Koehler Winery, a beautiful place to stop and picnic. We were enchanted by the ostridges running around out back, and greatly enjoyed their large selection of wines. There’s truly something for everyone here!
Koehler is known for their old vines, clocking in at 45 years old and is celebrated as one of the most popular and beautiful stops on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.
This small, niche growing region can be found near the small town of Los Alamos, and falls right in between the Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley. It was formally recognized as its own AVA in August of 2020 – in large part thanks to Noah Rowles, owner of Thompson Vineyards.
Dovecote Estate Winery
For six years, Noah Rowles and Wes Hagen researched and gathered evidence of the region’s unique climate, soil, geography, and history needed to petition for Alisos Canyon to become its own AVA. Today, you can come visit them and experience the common soul found in all wines that originate from this special place.
Santa Barbara Wineries Map
You’ll have lots of great options to choose from while you’re here, so I made this Santa Barbara County Wineries Map on Google Maps to help you plan your trip!
When we decide what tasting rooms or wineries to visit in a day, make a short Santa Barbara wineries list and then look at them on a map to decide what’s near each other so we should group them together.
Many of these AVAs are right next to one another, and it’s easy to explore and make your way from one to another!
Frequently Asked Questions
How many wineries are in Santa Barbara County?
Santa Barbara County is home to over 120 wineries! Here, you’ll find everything from tiny tasting rooms to mass-producing operations.
What wine is Santa Barbara known for?
Because there’s so many different and distinct growing regions here, you’ll find a lot of variety, but some of the best wines to try while you’re out here include Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs! If you’re a fan of Syrah, definitely try a glass if you visit Los Olivos!
Does Santa Barbara have good wines?
There are so many incredible, award-winning wines made in Santa Barbara! There’s a handful of various american viticultural areas found here, and the climate and terrier can vary widely from one to the next, but that just means you’ll find a lot of variety here too!
What wine tasting towns are near Santa Barbara?
There’s a lot of great little towns for wine tasting in Santa Barbara County! Some of my favorites are Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Santa Maria, and Lompoc, just to name a few!
What is the Funk Zone in Santa Barbara?
The Funk Zone in downtown Santa Barbara is home to a vibrant and unique arts, culture, business, and industrial district. You’ll find lots of great things to do, see, and taste between State Street and Garden Street, and Montecito Street to Cabrillo Boulevard.