In the vintage township of Santa Ynez (population 4,418), it’s sometimes hard to tell if it’s 2014 or 1884 with its period-style false-front building facades housing shops, saloons, feed stores and random horses hitched to posts. However, this rather sophisticated cowboy town also boasts plenty of conveniences for modern-day trail riders. A variety of restaurants serve up delicious options from casual burgers, pancakes, and waffles (beloved by locals), to steaks, seafood, regional Italian fare, Latin fusion and locavore cuisine. Modern shops and galleries line streets with horse-shoe embedded crosswalks. Don’t miss the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House for a fascinating does of Old West heritage and myriad events year-round such as the Vaquero Show & Sale in November. The Chumash Casino Resort is adjacent to the township with 24/7 gaming, live entertainment, dining and a luxurious hotel. Old Santa Ynez Day every June is just one fun time to visit, when the town celebrates with a street fair, parade and country-western entertainment. Cyclists gravitate to Santa Ynez as well for a world-class training center, tours or just the chance to ride a bike along serene country roads – there’s plenty to see and do in the town that gave the Valley its name.
Wine lovers will be thrilled to learn that the Santa Ynez wineries are some of the best in the country. Santa Ynez Valley wine country has four distinct American Viticulture Areas (AVAs), over 120 wineries and produces more than 1 million cases of wine every year. You’ll be thrilled with our ever-popular and unique varietals including: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, and more.
Santa Ynez wineries are open year-round, with each season offering its own special joys. In the summer many wineries host special outdoor events, barbecues and concerts. Fall ushers in a celebration of the local harvest, and the introduction of new offerings. Winter is reserved for more laid-back exploration and tasting. The year starts again with a spring festival, featuring four days of unique wine and culinary experiences. Of course, the wineries also serve as perfect settings for romantic destination weddings year-round.
Suggested itinerary for your trip to Santa Ynez Valley wine country:
Many visitors tell us they love to plan their vacation around exciting wine-tasting experiences. Here is our suggestion to help you get the full feel of all that Santa Ynez Valley has to offer:
Your first night in the Valley…
- Plan your arrival for dinner-time and let your wine experience begin. We recommend staying at the beautiful Mirabelle Inn, a quaint boutique hotel in Solvang. Begin your stay with a complimentary bottle of wine and cookies on arrival, and find Fiji water and L’Occitane shower essentials waiting for you in your comfortably appointed, cozy room. Start the night with a walking tour of the wonderful shops in Solvang, or get ready for a tasty dinner at the Mirabelle’s 5 star First & Oak Restaurant. The menu features exquisite wine country cuisine that blends culinary arts reminiscent of France. There are plenty of wine-tasting opportunities in town for the evening, or just head up to your room for a well-deserved rest.
Your first day in the Valley…
- In the morning, enjoy a complimentary breakfast at the Mirabelle, or head over to the Solvang Restaurant for some world-famous Aebleskivers and Danish sausage! Then return to your hotel and get whisked away by Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours for an exceptional tour of Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Join a group tour or book a private wine tour for an even more exclusive experience. Your tour fee includes transportation and gratuity, tasting fees at four carefully selected locations, a delicious picnic lunch, and plenty of bottled water.
- For your dining pleasure that evening we recommend the unique Bottlest Winery, Bar & Bistro in Buellton. Originally conceived as just an “add-on” restaurant for the winery, Bottlest has evolved into a one-of-a-kind wine country destination. It offers world-class cuisine, artisan cocktails, and more than 50 wines by the glass. You can even custom-craft your own wine. Look for live music every weekend, or make a reservation for their Winemaker Dinner and learn even more about wine.
Day Two in the Valley…
- Get up and at ‘em early for a trip to Bob’s Well Bread Bakery in Los Alamos . Thier doors open at 7:00 a.m., and you want to be one of the first people in line for their savory delights. These artisan breads are made by hand in small batches using the simplest of ingredients, and then baked to perfection in a custom-built, stone-deck oven. Open the door and bask in the incredible aroma of fresh-baked breads and parties wafts gently over your head and fills your senses.
- For a cowboy wine country experience, try Vino Vaqueros Horseback Riding in Santa Ynez. Take a group or private horseback tour through the hills and vineyards of Santa Ynez Valley’s Estelle Vineyards. If you’re riding on a weekend, be sure to ask about the seasonal farm-to-table catered lunch from Dolce Catering Company. After the ride, relax by the scenic pond and take in beautiful vineyard views, or enjoy a game of bocce while sampling the latest wines.
We hope our suggestions enhance your stay in the Santa Ynez Valley. Come back again to explore on your own and learn more about everything our beautiful area has to offer!
Download The Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour Map
Need more information? Contact one of our knowledgeable wine tour companies for unique insights about our area:
- Breakaway Wine Tours: Deliciously fun, educational wine tours since 1995! Any size, private and customized. Door-to-door service from local lodging.
- Classic Wine Tours of Santa Barbara: Offers door-to-door service in Solvang and Santa Ynez. Classic tours include an all-inclusive day with lunch and tasting fees included!
- Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours: They’ll take care of all the details while you enjoy the heart of Santa Ynez Wine Country, with your transport, gourmet lunch, and tasting fees included!
- Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours: The first and premiere wine tour company based in the Santa Ynez Valley – rated #1 activity on Trip Advisor!