#SYVibes

There’s a feeling you get in the Santa Ynez Valley – a vibe. Gather inspiration for your next trip from our blog, and then share how you experience the SYV by tagging your photos on social with #SYVibes.

Enjoy a Visit to the Santa Ynez Valley Memorial Day Weekend – 2021

Return to Travel 

As California reopens, the Santa Ynez Valley is prepared to welcome visitors back to wine country this Memorial Day Weekend with the opportunity to once again experience the gem of California’s Central Coast. The Valley’s hotels, inns, restaurants, wineries, and outdoor activities are back to doing what they do best—providing a much-needed getaway that is welcoming, safe and spacious—just two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from the Bay Area. 

The region’s relatively slow pace of life and charming communities, abundant open spaces and uncrowded rural roads, and the stunning setting painted with lush vineyards and California Oaks as far as the eye can see, are made only more attractive by the times in which we currently find ourselves.

Enjoy the Classics  

The Santa Ynez Valley’s inns and hotels — including The Landsby, The Santa Ynez Inn, and Skyview Los Alamos, as well as the family-friendly Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, Flying Flags, Hamlet Inn, Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, Sideways Inn, and The Alamo Motel — are again unforgettable stays for a wide range of budgets.

The Santa Ynez Valley’s many incredible restaurants — including Bell’s Los Alamos, Bob’s Well Bread, The Gathering Table, Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe, Pico, Plenty on Bell, S.Y. Kitchen, Full of Life Flatbread, Leonardo’s, Brothers at the Red Barn, Hitching Post II, and Trattoria Grappolo — are back to serving up their imaginative culinary creations to diners onsite. 

And whether tasting along the scenic Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, in quaint downtown Los Olivos, the Santa Ynez Wine Trail, Sta. Rita Hills Wine Trail,  or the Solvang Wine Walk, the Santa Ynez Valley has a world of wine waiting to be rediscovered.

Of course, never have we been more excited to enjoy open spaces. A horseback ride through the vineyards with Vino Vaqueros, a cycling tour along the region’s country roads, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore may just be what we need to feel free again. 

Try Something New This Weekend 

With leisure travel at a virtual standstill for much of the past year, it’s understandable that many entrepreneurs postponed plans for new or expanded business operations. But the Santa Ynez Valley continues to buck that trend, with no fewer than 20 visitor-related businesses opening their doors since the pandemic began. Here are the best new lodging properties, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, and activities that are ready to welcome you to the Santa Ynez Valley this weekend.

Hotel Ynez — Located at the crossroads of Solvang & Santa Ynez and situated on two private acres, Hotel Ynez boasts 18 spacious guest rooms, extensive gardens, a pool, bonfire pits, and a rustic outdoor pavilion for nights under the stars.

The Winston — From the same Highway West Vacations team behind three other Santa Ynez Valley properties including The Vinland, Flying Flags, and Sideways Inn, The Winston has been renovated from head to toe and boasts 14 individually decorated rooms beneath the property’s iconic clock tower in the heart of Solvang. 

Vinland Hotel & Lounge — Located in the heart of Solvang where Copenhagen’s charm meets California’s climate, the completely remodeled Vinland Hotel & Lounge boasts 82 rooms overlooking Hans Christian Andersen Park.

Zaca Creek Inn — Originally built by the founding Buell family of Buellton, Zaca Creek has recently been re-imagined and the Zaca Creek Inn boasts six unique suites each with its own distinctive charms and delights.

The Tavern at Zaca Creek — A seasonally-inspired California chophouse, The Tavern at Zaca Creek showcases the best of what Santa Ynez Valley has to offer by supporting local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. The allure of the original Tavern bar is captured by a spirits & cocktail program that highlights old and new alike.

peasants FEAST — As one of the first businesses to open in the Santa Ynez Valley during the pandemic (April 2020), peasants FEAST features seasonal comfort foods from longtime restaurateurs and husband and wife Michael & Sarah Cherney. Centrally-located in downtown Solvang.

Nella Kitchen & Bar — From Chef Luca Crestenelli and the hospitality team behind S.Y. Kitchen, Nella Kitchen & Bar features Italian-inspired dishes and quality foods simply prepared using only the finest locally-sourced ingredients. Located in Los Olivos, alongside the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn.

Bob’s Well Bread — The new Ballard location of this popular Los Alamos mainstay features the same signature special daily breads, homemade pastries, all-day breakfast & lunch, and bread & bakery take-away case that have made the pilgrimage to Bob’s a daily routine for many.

The Vaquero Bar at Coast Range — A Central Coast steakhouse and seafood restaurant with full bar, Coast Range & Vaquero Bar in Solvang is a collaboration between winemaker, sommelier, and James Beard Award winner Rajat Parr, and celebrated chefs Anthony Carron, Lincoln Carson, and Steven Fretz. While the steakhouse will open soon, The Vaquero Bar is ready to welcome you with incredible cocktails and bar bites in the heart of downtown Solvang.  

Sear Steakhouse — An elevated and genuine farm-to-table Solvang steakhouse, Sear is the longtime vision of Demetrios and Karen Loizides who previously operated K’Syrah Catering & Events from the completely reimagined space. Sear is a partnership between the Loizides and mixologist Alberto Battaglini.

Clean Slate Wine BarFeaturing limited production wines, craft beers, and small plates focusing on family farms, independent winemakers, and local producers. Highlights include 50 Wines by the Glass, 10 beers on draft, and small plates influenced by Spanish-style tapas, local farmers, and Chef Melissa’s Louisiana Roots.

Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar — A friendly European bar in the heart of Solvang, Arrowsmith’s is a “home away from home” run by two Europeans, specializing in small-batch local wines as well as a delicious worldwide selection of fantastic wine and European beer.

McClain Cellars — The McClain Cellars Winery, Barrel, and Tasting Lounge in Buellton is a tribute to the four pillars that keep the family focused, driven, and alive: family, friends, faith, and freedom. At McClain Cellars, they believe that every day is a gift to be enjoyed with those you love the most.

Stolpman Fresh Garage — Located in the garage and patio space adjacent to their Los Olivos tasting room, the Stolpman Fresh Garage features wines made from grapes that are natively fermented, un-crushed, and whole, served chilled in an open air setting.

Storm Wines — Rooted in the hills of the Santa Ynez Valley, Storm Wines emphasizes old world influences and new world techniques. The Mediterranean climate, diverse soils, and exciting new opportunities in this budding Central Coast wine region have combined to drive Ernst Storm’s passion for producing his wine and sharing it with visitors to the winery’s Los Olivos tasting room.

Grimm’s Bluff — Best known for their 246-acre ranch and vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA, the new Grimm’s Bluff tasting room in Los Olivos showcases the handcrafted wines and Italian varietal olive oil produced from its certified biodynamic and organic vineyard.

Queen Cup Coffee — Skyler & Alyce Barrick’s love for great coffee and the motivation to share their life experiences with others in the community inspired them to create Queen Cup Coffee. Located next to The Lucky Hen Larder in Santa Ynez, Queen Cup Coffee opened in Jan. 2021.

Moke Experience — Solvang — A whole new way to see and experience Solvang and the surrounding areas, Moke Experience Solvang features a lineup of stylish, colorful, and sought-after electric vehicles that are a zero-emission alternative for visitors wanting to explore the valley in style. 

Tin City Cider — A collaboration between two winemakers looking to fill their time following harvest and crush, Tin City Cider opened its second taproom location in late September 2020 in downtown Los Olivos. Together, they produce a full line-up of carefully crafted ciders made with the best California apples.

Enjoy Bagels + Sweets — The latest offering from Kevin & Amber Vander Vliet, who have operated Enjoy Cupcakes since 2009 and were motivated by a need to diversify during COVID-19. Features 8 unique bagel flavors, 8 cream cheese schmears, and 10 bagel sandwiches in addition to a full sweets line at their bakery facility in Buellton.

Book Your Visit Now

For more information, or to research attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary, visit visitsyv.com. For further details on traveling safely in the Santa Ynez Valley, visit www.visitsyv.com/traveling-safely-in-the-santa-ynez-valley/

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Mother’s Day in the Santa Ynez Valley – 2021

Moms deserves the best – and what better way to treat them than a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley? With so much to do in the SYV, we’ve come up with a fun, varied list of ideas on how to spend the weekend celebrating Mother’s Day.

Activities 

Moke Experience Solvang: While sightseeing on foot is always a good time in Solvang – there’s a new way to see the town on four wheels! The eMoke is an all-electric vehicle that boasts zero emissions and a range of eye-catching color and customization options. With its open-air body styling, the eMoke offers great sightseeing and is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after transport experiences available in Solvang.

Elverhoj Museum: Now open Friday – Monday, 11am – 5pm, Elverhoj is providing visitors the rare opportunity to see the works of Rembrandt, up close and personal.  A heralded collection of 21 etchings by Dutch Master Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) is on display now through June 2021.

Wildling Museum: Get inspired as a family at Wildling Museum, where two new exhibitions are on display, plus you can enjoy an immersive installation in their Tower Gallery, titled “Holli Harmon: The Nature of Clouds”. The museum has public walk-in hours Saturday and Sundays, 11am-  4pm.

Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden: Take Mom for a stroll through nature to enjoy the whimsical colors of California wildflowers on display at the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden. Located in Buellton, California at the west end of River View Park, this nationally registered public garden is free of charge and open to the public.

Gifts

Forage Florals: Mother’s Day {Breakfast in Bed} Gift Trays are ready to grab and go! Just add your own breakfast and coffee…your mom will feel extra loved for sure! In addition to beautiful floral arrangements, Forage Florals has gift options galore for Mom. Explore their shop today.

Santa Barbara Adventure Company: Did you know that Santa Barbara Adventure Company runs wine tours?⁣ It’s true! In fact, they have a Mother’s Day Special going on right now.⁣
⁣Use promo code to save $20 per person when you book a Cupcake & Wine Tour by 5/9/2021. (Restrictions apply, see website for details)

Need more gift ideas? Check out additional retail options at our Where to Shop page.

Brunch

Plenty on Bell: There’s still time to surprise Mom with a delicious meal at Plenty on Bell! From 8:30am – 11:30 am on Sunday, May 9, 2021, enjoy the Avocado Toast with Smoked Salmon special for $15. From 11:30am – 3pm, enjoy a brunch special of Crustless Quiche & Seasonal Green Salad, Olive Oil Cake & Strawberries for $22. Unlimited mimosas available with tangerine, orange and guava, $20. For reservations, call 805-344-3020.

Wineries

Brick Barn Wine Estate: This Mother’s Day, bring that special mom in your life down to Brick Barn for a treat, compliments of Brick Barn! While supplies last, moms who do a tasting with them will also enjoy a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, plus a goody bag of soap from Montecito Soap Co. and caramels from Jessica Foster Confections! And if all that wasn’t enough, from 2pm-5pm they will also be hosting local musician, Graybill! Graybill is an acoustic Indi-Folk singer/songwriter with a smooth voice that’s often compared to artists like Jack Johnson, G. Love, Michael Franti, and Sam Beam of Iron and Wine. Come, sit under their oak tree, enjoy some bubbles, and celebrate mom! Reservations are recommended but not required, head to their website to book your tasting today.

Fess Parker Winery: Celebrate Mother’s Day at Fess Parker Winery! They will be offering a special, Mother’s Day flight all weekend long. Please make a reservation online at fessparker.com.

Grimm’s Bluff: Because mothers deserve more than one day, Grimm’s Bluff will be having having a case sale on their 2017 Estate Sauvignon Blanc – 50% off! May 1-16.

Pence Vineyards: This weekend they’re offering all moms a complimentary glass of Rosé and a floral bouquet to thank them for all they do! They are officially booked up on Sunday, but still have reservations available on Saturday! To make a reservation, visit them online, email mia@pencevineyards.com, or call them at 805.735.7000 from 10am-5pm.

Looking to bring the kids with you to wine country this weekend? Many tasting rooms are family friendly – here’s a list of some family favorite locales:

Stay

Click here to find rates and availability at over 30 Santa Ynez Valley boutique hotels and inns.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Takeout 2020 Edition

While we keep the holiday lights on in the Santa Ynez Valley, the current regional Stay at Home Order means that leisure travel is not permitted, and holiday meals will be available for takeout only. See below for a current list of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day takeout offerings in the Santa Ynez Valley. Please call restaurants directly to confirm offerings are still available.

Christmas Eve

Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe
7am – 3pm

Bob’s Well Bread Bakery (both Los Alamos and Ballard locations)
8am – 1pm

First & Oak
(805) 688-1703
Available December 23 – 25th.
View Menu and Order Instructions Here.

Industrial Eats 
12pm – 8pm
(805) 688-8807 or order online
Regular menu available, view here.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe
(805) 688-7265
Special Holiday Menu available, click here to view.

Mad & Vin at The Landsby
Breakfast: 8am – 11am
Bar/Bites: 12pm – 5pm
Dinner: 5pm – 8pm
Mad & Vin at The Landsby will have a limited regular dinner menu, cocktails and wine to go, along with the following holiday special:

12 oz Herb Roasted Prime Rib
Red Wine Au Jus
Truffle Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
Horseradish Cream Sauce
Prime Rib special is $40 + tax

To place an order, or pre-order please call 805-697-7048

Norman at the Skyview Los Alamos
(805) 344-0080
Featuring a Holiday Prix Fixe Dinner for Two for $75 (tax and gratuity not included)
Order ahead online through OpenTable or call (805) 344-0080 for local (Los Alamos, Ca) delivery.

Plenty on Bell
(323) 804-0928
8am – 3pm
Open for takeout coffee drinks, pastries, scones, wine, beer,  and Christmas treats.

Sideways Lounge
(805) 688-8448
4pm – 8pm
Bar bites and specialty cocktails to go, including holiday specialty cocktails.

S.Y. Kitchen
(805) 691-9794
Pre-Order before 2pm on December 23rd for pickup on December 24th.
View menu and order here.

V-Lounge 
4pm – 10pm*
( 805) 688-2018
Open for takeout, view menu online here. Please order ahead online here.
*Hours subject to change 

Christmas Day

First & Oak
(805) 688-1703
Available December 23 – 25th.
View Menu and Order Instructions Here.

Mad & Vin at The Landsby
Breakfast: 8am – 11am
Dinner: 5pm – 8pm
Mad & Vin at The Landsby will have a limited regular dinner menu, cocktails and wine to go, along with the following holiday special:

12 oz Herb Roasted Prime Rib
Red Wine Au Jus
Truffle Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
Horseradish Cream Sauce
Prime Rib special is $40 + tax

To place an order, or pre-order please call 805-697-7048

Norman at the Skyview Los Alamos
(805) 344-0080
Featuring a Holiday Prix Fixe Dinner for Two for $75 (tax and gratuity not included)
Order ahead online through OpenTable or call (805) 344-0080 for local (Los Alamos, Ca) delivery.

 

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Thanksgiving in the Santa Ynez Valley, 2020 Edition

 

There’s no getting around it – Thanksgiving is going to look different this year. While many of us will be Zooming in with friends and family across different dinner tables in 2020, several restaurants in the Santa Ynez Valley have been diligently putting together take-out and outdoor dining options to serve the needs of regional guests and Valley residents.

See below for a current list of Thanksgiving offerings in the Santa Ynez Valley. Reservations highly recommended, please call restaurants directly to confirm offerings are still available.

 

Thanksgiving Dinner

First & Oak
(805) 688-1703
Set Seatings at 4:00 PM, 4:30 PM, 6:30 PM, & 7:00 PM
View menu here
Reservations required, almost sold out!

Ballard Inn Gathering Table
(800) 638-2466
3 – 8 PM reservations advised

Norman at the Skyview Los Alamos
(805) 344-0104
Featuring a 3 course prix fixe menu for $65, includes gluten free and vegetarian/vegan options.
Make reservations here

Petros Winery
(805) 680-5417
Special Thanksgiving Menu available
Make reservations here
2:00pm – 8:00pm

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott (takeout)
(805) 688-1000
View menu here
With two helpful options to choose from, The Little Feast serves 4-6 people and The Big Feast can feed up to 10. Each option comes with herb roasted turkey, sumptuous sides and a spiced pumpkin pie. Plus for just a little more you can add spiral cut honey ham or a pecan pie from their a’la carte menu! Just follow their simple heating and serving instructions for a delicious dinner.

Orders must be in by 8pm on Friday, November 20th by calling (805) 688-1000. Food can be picked up from the hotel on Wednesday, November 25th between 11am-2pm or Thursday, November 26th from 9am-1pm.

Chumash Casino Resort (takeout)
Enjoy an oven roasted turkey dinner accompanied with flavorful sides like maple glazed carrots and buttery pull-apart rolls, and your choice of pumpkin or apple pie! Reserve your meal in person at Grains & Grounds now through Friday, November 20.

Louise’s Kitchen Table – To Go at the Castle (takeout)
(805) 403-9649
For takeout, visit Louise’s Kitchen Table To Go at the Castle for “Everything but the turkey.” Appetizers, sides and desserts must be pre-ordered by Sunday, November 22nd.
Preview the menu here.

Mad & Vin at The Landsby (available for hotel guests of The Landsby and Santa Ynez Inn only)
Mad & Vin at The Landsby has a special Thanksgiving dinner available for guests only of The Landsby and sister property, Santa Ynez Inn. Contact the hotels directly to make both hotel and dinner reservations:
The Landsby: 805-688-3121
Santa Ynez Inn: 805-688-5588

Breakfast /  Lunch / Treats / Charcuterie

The Baker’s Table
(805) 688-4856
7:30am – 11:00am
The Baker’s Table will be offering breads, pastries, coffee, pies and rolls on Thanksgiving morning

Good Seed Coffee Boutique
(805) 693-2132
Open 7 AM-12 PM
Pre orders due 11/21
Pre-Order pick up available 11/24-11/26. Some gluten free or vegan.

Olsen’s Bakery & Cafe
(805) 688-6314
Open 7 AM – 1 PM

Old Danish Fudge Kitchen
(805) 688-9932
Open 9 AM – 4PM

Red Viking
(805) 688-6610
Open 9 AM – 4 PM

The Lucky Hen Larder
9:30am – 11:30am
(805) 691-9448
We are open for cheese/charcuterie board pre-order pick-up and window service for cheeses, charcuterie and artisan goods.

Wineries / Tasting Rooms / Brewpubs with Meals

Copenhagen Sausage Garden
(805) 697-7354
Open 11 AM – 9 PM

Rosenson Wine Creations / Coquelicot Estate Wines
(805) 688-1500 
11AM to close (call ahead to confirm)
Regular and Reserve Flights will be available

The Good Life
(805) 688-7111
11am – 4pm
We have the perfect local beer and wine pairings for your holiday table. Enjoy a special holiday tasting and/or a glass on our patio or you can step inside the shop where we can assist you with all of your bottle needs to go.

The Hideaway Los Olivos
(805) 697-7892
10:00am – 2:00pm

 

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


This Holiday Season, the Santa Ynez Valley invites Visitors to turn the Page on 2020

As harvest season offers wine and culinary immersion, this fall and winter in the Santa Ynez Valley will be a truly peaceful experience

The long road of 2020 deserves a better ending, and the Santa Ynez Valley is just the place to turn the calendar on a higher note. The transition from late fall to early winter has always been a special time here, a favorite of visitors and locals alike.

This year, with health and wellness on just about everybody’s mind, the season has taken on just a bit more importance. Signs of harvest season are just about everywhere right now, injecting a little extra life into just about everything. 

The region’s local farms, ranches, and the bounty of the Pacific Ocean, energize the farm-to-table cuisine that has long made the Santa Ynez Valley a haven for foodies. And with mild fall temperatures, many of the region’s top restaurants continue to serve their imaginative culinary creations to diners safely outside.

Of course, cycling along a country road, riding horseback through a vineyard, or a rewarding hike that peaks with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean all have a way of melting away the worries. Or simply unwind with the fall releases of the more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, nearly all of which are open to tasting.

As the holiday season approaches, things turn again. Sure, the weather is still typically beautiful, but no place in California celebrates the holidays quite like the Santa Ynez Valley. After all, this is the home of Solvang’s Julefest, a celebration that is truly a favorite tradition. We can’t wait for Julefest to return this year, even if it looks a little different.

The bottom line is that the Santa Ynez Valley offers an opportunity to remind ourselves what is most important. To get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life at a time when it’s just a bit quieter around here. To make the short drive from Los Angeles or San Francisco, and arrive at a place where you can forget it all, even if for just a few days.

This is a most unusual year. And a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley might be a more calming experience than in years past. The peacefulness of the vineyards — to meditate, practice yoga, horseback ride, or even paint — the hundreds of miles of hiking trails, the winding country roads, and the mild fall weather can make a visitor feel a world away. 

And who couldn’t use a little bit of that right now?

Planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley is simple at visitsyv.com, where visitors can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create custom travel itineraries. For further details on traveling safely in the Santa Ynez Valley, visit www.visitsyv.com/traveling-safely-in-the-santa-ynez-valley/

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Experience the Great Outdoors in the Santa Ynez Valley

hiker with mountain view

We’re all looking for a way to get out, without joining a crowd. The Santa Ynez Valley has never been an ordinary wine country destination, and its abundance of outdoor recreation and amenities are a key reason why. 

Set along California’s Central Coast, with the San Rafael Mountains to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south, rests a natural playground for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, outdoor adventurists, and more. And on a given weekday, those landscapes become all the more tranquil.

Entering the valley and catching the first glimpse of Cachuma Lake sparkling under the summer sun or of the region’s rolling hills, dotted with California live oaks and painted with acres of lush vineyards, offers a much-needed breath of fresh air. A quick excursion to the 80-foot waterfall at Nojoqui Falls Park or the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from Gaviota Peak or Figueroa Mountain provides a breathtaking shot of energy.

Increasingly, the popularity of the valley’s natural outdoor assets has bolstered the region’s reputation as a world-class wine and culinary destination. Visitors want to explore the outdoors, appreciate a destination from a new or different perspective,  or experience something that they might not be able to at home, and the Santa Ynez Valley provides many opportunities to do just that.

Here are just a few of some of the best ways to get outdoors in the Santa Ynez Valley:

Cachuma Lake: A stroll along the shores of Cachuma Lake on the Tequepis Trail, is often greeted with native bald eagles, ospreys, and hawks soaring above. The lake is also popular for fishing, boating, and ample hiking and mountain bike paths.

A playground for hikers: The Santa Ynez Valley offers hundreds of miles of trails to explore, from scenic vineyard-to-vineyard strolls, to more challenging hikes rewarded with fields of wildflowers or incredible sea-to-valley vistas. There are so many to choose from, but the easy hike to Nojoqui Falls is always popular for families. And more challenging hikes to Gaviota Peak or to the top of Grass Mountain offer incredible scenic payoffs.

Vineyards by horseback: Exploring the vineyards is a quintessential Santa Ynez Valley experience. But with a vineyard horseback ride a connection between human and animal is made, creating a deeper and enriching moment. Estelle Ranch and Vineyards Ride & Wine tour from Vino Vaqueros or a KAP Land & Cattle tour of the vineyards of Fess Parker offers an enriching and rewarding experience.

Santa Ynez Valley by two wheels: The rural country roads that connect the wineries and communities of the Santa Ynez Valley are also ideal for a two-wheel adventure. Whether you’re interested in doing an easy 5 miles with the family, 50 miles through rolling vineyards, or a multi-day tour of wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley and its less-trafficked roads make for a cyclist’s nirvana. Everything you need can be found at Dr. J’s Bicycle Shop, Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours, or Wheel Fun Rentals.

Ohm away from home: Vineyard Yoga SYV connects yoga enthusiasts with the natural world through its yoga classes that take place in the serenity and solitude of local vineyards, followed by wine tasting.

The outdoor wine tasting experience: With more than 100 wineries, many with expansive grounds, outside seating, and room to roam, wine-tasting is an outdoor activity in the Santa Ynez Valley, too.

The Santa Ynez Valley’s healthy, outdoor lifestyle seems particularly fitting at a time when getting outside and into open space has never felt more important for our physical and mental wellbeing. There’s something calming, refreshing, and reinvigorating about seeing the Pacific Ocean from the top of Gaviota Peak, hiking a trail that passes by an endless field of California wildflowers, or just walking through a rolling vineyard, and this is the perfect place to do all of the above and more.

Start planning your outdoor adventure at visitsyv.com, where you can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Your Social Distanced Getaway

friends having lunch outside under umbrella

Why midweek is the primetime to visit the Santa Ynez Valley

Vacation plans have been upended everywhere, leaving many asking themselves just where they can go to get away, yet avoid the crowds. The Santa Ynez Valley has always offered an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. That is particularly true during weekdays.

And in the era of flexible work schedules and social distancing, a midweek visit to the Santa Ynez Valley has never been more appealing or more attainable.

Late summer and fall are typically the most coveted of seasons in the Santa Ynez Valley — filled with the energy that comes from the sunshine of summer and the fall harvest that breathes life into the Santa Ynez Valley’s world-class wines. That energy is present this year, too, but more muted than in a typical year, especially during weekdays.

We’re used to seeing the bakeries, restaurants, and tasting rooms in Solvang teeming with travelers nearly every day this time of year. But right now, the weekday quiet offers a welcome calm, fostering an environment perfect for those in search of a peaceful, healthy escape. And what’s more – many  Santa Ynez Valley inns, hotels and tour companies have created special midweek promotions and discounts to take advantage of by traveling Sunday through Thursday.

Only 30 minutes from Santa Barbara, two hours north of Los Angeles, and a scenic four-hour drive south of San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley is easy to get to but can feel a world away on any day. But during a midweek stay, savvy travelers discover a touch more access to the region. Most find the mandated reduced capacities at tasting rooms and restaurants no bother at all — giving more freedom to explore the Santa Ynez Valley’s farm-to-table culinary scene and its world-class wineries.

Last-minute planners are given a reprieve to make a spur-of-the-moment decision, with plenty of midweek availability and affordability at the Santa Ynez Valley’s eclectic mix of lodgings, such as the modern luxury found at The Landsby, hip boutique hotels such as the Skyview Los Alamos, and intimate B&Bs like the Ballard Inn.

Yet the character of SYV’s six distinct communities — which range from classic California wine country to Northern Europe to the Old West — is still easily experienced. Instead of crowds, visitors find that in midweek, winemakers have more time to deeply discuss their varietals and vintages. Prime outdoor seating at the region’s best restaurants, many of which face capacity limits, is easier to find, too.

During the midweek, the Santa Ynez Valley’s hundreds of miles of trails — from scenic vineyard-to-vineyard strolls, to more challenging hikes rewarded with fields of wildflowers or incredible sea-to-valley vistas — are less traveled and offer just a bit more solitude. Experiences such as a horseback ride through the vineyards of SYV or a bike ride down the country roads offer the peace we are all seeking.

Never has there been a better opportunity to get away from everything, especially the crowds.

Start planning your midweek stay at visitsyv.com, where you can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


WFH: Wine Country Edition

woman working remote outside

Work is no vacation…But it can be.

World events have us all rethinking how, when, and why we travel. For many of us, gone is the conventional business trip. For others, a long vacation to an exotic location might seem unobtainable or unsafe.

But with remote work now a fact of life for many of us, a new opportunity has come — the “work-cation.” Increasing in popularity in recent months, a work-cation involves going somewhere anywhere other than home to work in a different environment or setting — be it for a week or two or a few months — allowing for a deeper exploration of a region than any vacation would make possible.

Nestled on the Central Coast — the Santa Ynez Valley offers the infrastructure and proximity to Los Angeles and San Francisco, to put such a notion into practice.

If the past few months have taught us anything it is that for many of us, the ability to accomplish work successfully and remotely is not mutually exclusive. It’s one of the reasons why for many companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Square, Slack, Shopify, and Zillow, a permanent remote work option for employees is becoming increasingly popular.

Brett White, the CEO of global commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, predicts that the permanent remote workforce could double to nearly 10%. That represents a titanic shift in the way many of us engage our jobs, making proximity to work an afterthought if it is a thought at all.

The Visit Santa Ynez Valley staff has mostly been working from home since March, and we have surprised ourselves by just how well it has worked. And the idea of work-cation is something that the Santa Ynez Valley is embracing, with many of our hotels, inns and tour companies offering midweek specials to help break up the work-week, wine country style.

Our famously welcoming community is perfect for visitors-turned-short-term-residents who long for a much-needed break from the monotony and routine in which they are currently stuck.

Imagine waking up in a Santa Ynez Valley boutique hotel, spending your morning working poolside, leaving your afternoons free to wine taste at any one of more than 100 wineries that are just minutes from your front door. Or maybe the work can wait, leaving the morning for a hike up Gaviota Peak and the sea-to-valley scenic payoff at the summit or a long morning ride around a quiet country road.

Wind down the workday with an incredible meal prepared by the wine country eateries that have made the Santa Ynez Valley so beloved by travelers.

Sounds pretty great.

During a work-cation, you have plenty of time to immerse yourself in the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, learning the unique charms of each, from the Danish-American-enclave of Solvang to the foodie culture of Los Alamos.

Let’s be honest, the last few months have seemed like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day. So perhaps most importantly, work-cations represent an opportunity to change up the routine and boost your morale. They can boost productivity by removing the day-to-day chores that come with being home. And they can improve wellness by offering a well-earned opportunity to relax and take a deep breath.

Whatever your reason, the Santa Ynez Valley offers a rare chance to live and work in wine country — if only for a few weeks or months.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Natural Wine and Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country: A Getaway Wine Buying Guide

Wine world catch phrases and industry jargon abound these days, making wine tasting and wine buying choices slightly daunting for the likes of us neophyte oenophiles (see, there it is again!). What constitutes a “natural wine”? How do I know if this wine is organic? What on earth is biodynamically made wine? Here, a primer for wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley wine country; a simple sampling and shopping guide for dinner parties, date nights, and your organic-everything friends or family.

The Santa Ynez Valley boasts such a wide array of wine varietals, winemaking methods and wine tasting experiences, you would be hard-pressed (pun intended) to cover all of its vineyard-blanketed ground in one day. Good news, is that the Santa Ynez Valley’s vino variety is rivaled only by its bountiful inventory of lodging accommodations – hotels, motels and inns, B&Bs, resorts – at nearly all wine country vacation budget levels. A healthy roster of food and wine festivals and events, year ‘round, also provides ample opportunity for getaways to this burgeoning California wine destination.

Welcome wine to the table with a clean conscience, and “clean” wines.

Let’s talk “natural wine”: there is no clear definition of natural wine, nor are there any legal confines which determine whether a wine can, for sure, be deemed “natural”. What do exist, are a number of organizations around the world which set guidelines for particular wine growing regions; associations which only allow wines made a certain way, to carry a natural wine designation. Loosely utilizing some of the rules set forth by these organizations, we can somewhat-safely say that natural wines at their very base level, must start with grapes which have been organically and/or biodynamically farmed.

The Santa Ynez Valley has a growing (again, with the puns) number of organically-farmed vineyards, some of which sell their grapes to numerous labels, often aside from the vineyard’s own estate labels. One such vineyard and wine label, is Coquelicot Estate Vineyard, a certified organic (CCOF) planting located in the Los Olivos District, a micro-AVA within the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. Wines which originate from Coquelicot’s vineyard range in varietal from Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling to Grüner Veltliner, to Pinot Noir, Malbec, Syrah and Sangiovese, as seen in Coquelicot’s own Sangiovese Rosé.

Another organically-farmed Santa Barbara wine country vineyard, is Spear Vineyards & Winery, in the famed Sta. Rita Hills – an AVA most known for its award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Spear produces its own estate label, but also sells grapes to other Santa Barbara County winemakers and brands like Kings Carey Wines, which bottles a low-intervention Grenache from organically-grown Spear Vineyards grapes.

But as a consumer, how do you know if a wine comes from an organically-farmed vineyard? Well, it can be a selling point, and labels which recognize this will often advertise the fact on their bottles. Look for the terms “made with organic grapes” or “made with organically-grown grapes”, on wine bottle labels.

Biodynamically speaking…

In the same vein as organic vineyards, are biodynamic vineyards. According to the Biodynamic Association, “Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.” Simply and broadly said, biodynamic vineyards are farmed with sustainability in mind, as well as a happy ecosystem, eco-friendly practices and cheerful grapes – and people. Santa Barbara County examples of wines produced from biodynamic farming practices, are Ampelos Cellars (also organic) in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, and a number of bottlings produced with grapes from biodynamic and sustainable Duvarita Vineyard, a Santa Barbara County AVA vineyard turning out popular wines like Story of Soil’s Duvarita Pinot Noir or Syrah, and Storm Wines Pinot Noirs.

Organizations which monitor what could be considered natural wine, often differ on the hot-topic of sulfites. Sulfites are used as a preservative in most wines, and the use of sulfites in rather small quantities will usually, still qualify a wine as “natural” in a number of purist wine circles. Santa Ynez Valley wine country examples of low-sulfite wines are Solminer Wine Co., which also places the utmost importance on organic farming practices, and Lumen Wines, which pulls grapes from sustainably-farmed vineyards. The afore-mentioned Kings Carey Wines, also produces a low-in-sulfites, dry Sémillon, affectionately referred to as “an alternate white wine”.

 

Time for an intervention: low-intervention.

One facet of what could be considered “natural” winemaking, is intervention level – either in the vineyard, or in the winery. Low- or minimal-intervention wines are left somewhat untouched by the winemaker, allowing all of the naturally-occurring processes of fermentation, to do their thing. One of the newer, minimal intervention wine labels coming out of Santa Barbara County, is Metrick Wines – but low-intervention wines are abundant in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Let’s get technical. Switching gears just slightly, another wine-geek term and trend is “carbonic”. Carbonic maceration, to be more exact, is a fermentation process for red wine, differentiated by the way in which fermentation is initiated. In carbonic maceration processes, no yeast is added to kick off fermentation; the process essentially starts within the grape itself, when those grapes have been sealed in a large vessel which also contains carbon dioxide. You might see the mention of “carbonic” on Santa Ynez Valley wine country labels like Lo-Fi Wines, which practices whole cluster carbonic fermentation on some of their minimalist wines (how’s that, for a mouthful?), or Stolpman Vineyards’ carbonically fermented, 100% Sangiovese, “Love You Bunches”. Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, a sustainable, working farm and vineyard, got into the carbonic game with its 2017 “Carbonique”, a 100% Cabernet Franc fermented via carbonic maceration.

With all of this newfound wine knowledge in-hand, it’s time to go wine tasting! The wine labels mentioned above, plus scores more, may be tasted and purchased at their respective wineries and/or tasting rooms, or in Santa Ynez Valley restaurants, wine bars and wine shops, scattered throughout the Valley’s six towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. Looking for a way to sample multiple natural wines from different labels? Visit Bodega Los Alamos, one of the region’s wine, beer and cider purveyors which not only tends toward local wines, but also natural-leaning ones.

 

Make that “thing to do” – natural wine – one of your “things to do”: book now, to start your Santa Ynez Valley wine education activities.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Valentine’s Day in the Santa Ynez Valley

Looking for a memorable Valentine’s Day in the Santa Ynez Valley? While you’ll no doubt find a wonderfully romantic and impeccable experience anywhere you turn in the SYV, these particular locales have something special in store for your Valentine’s Day weekend. See below for special events and offers in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Tasting Room Offers:

Alma Rosa Winery – Valentine’s Day Candlelight Wine Tasting
180-C Industrial Way, Buellton, CA 93427
(805) 688-9090
Join Alma Rosa Winery from 5-7pm for a pre-dinner wine tasting by candle light. Their entire tasting room will be lit by candles for a beautiful evening for one or two. Please call 805-688-9090 ex 103 to make reservations. Reservations Encouraged, Walk-ins Welcome.

Dana V Wines – Chocolate and Wine Pairing
1588 Mission Dr suite b, Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 688-3488
All February long, tasting room guests can enjoy a wine + chocolate pairing, with 4 wines paired with 4 chocolates from local favorite Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates. $20 (wine club $15).

Restaurant Menus & Offers:

First & Oak at Mirabelle Inn
First & Oak’s delightful Valentine’s Day dinner offers 4 courses which can be served with or without a sommelier wine pairing for each course. 2 seating options are available (6pm and 8:30pm). Peruse the menu here.

Mad & Vin at The Landsby
1576 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 688-3121
Enjoy the sweetly designed aesthetics of Mad & Vin at the Landsby while savoring these Valentine’s Day specials.

Norman at Skyview Los Alamos
9150 US-101, Los Alamos, CA 93440
(805) 344-0080
Norman’s 3 course Valentine’s Day menu offers a bevy of choices, all for $55. Find the menu here.  

Plenty on Bell
508 Bell St, Los Alamos, CA 93440
(805) 344-3020
Plenty on Bell’s special $65 Valentine’s Day dinner includes a glass of Domaine Rondeau Champagne to be paired with three courses. Find the menu here.

What about the kids?

Looking for romance sans the kids for one night? Get your dancing shoes out and the kids ready, because it’s Parents Night Out (aka Kids Only Night) at Gypsy Studios ‘Art Spot’. Their quarterly Kids Only Night provides art projects, pizza dinner and a kids movie, while you get a chance to do… well what ever you please! Free for members, visit website for single-visit pricing.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.