From sun-soaked Santa Maria to the urban beach community of Santa Barbara, captivating Santa Barbara County is home to almost 100 wineries, located in hills, valleys, and crossroad towns. For wine tourers, Santa Barbara Wine Country has it all--magnificent scenery, friendly people, weather they can count on all year round, and exquisite wines. And it's all just 90 minutes north of Los Angeles.
Are you an avid cyclist? Interested in sustainable farming? Hankering for some time in the saddle? Whether your lodgings are in seaside Santa Barbara or "over the hill" where the grapes grow, there is a Santa Barbara Wine Country tour calling out to you. Here are eight with intriguing itineraries to consider.
1. Breakaway Tours --If you want to experience wine touring in a small group and learn something along the way, Breakaway Tours is a great option. The guides range from wine educators to well-informed wine lovers. You can try barrel tasting, blind tasting, and even blending during your tour. Lasts: 5 to 7 hours Departs: Santa Ynez, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo Contact: 800.799.7657
2. Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours --Hop into a five- to seven-passenger custom four-wheel-drive Jeep and get ready for some open-air backcountry wine tasting. You'll get up close and personal with the area's flora and fauna, and the bumpy dirt trails will lead to absolutely magnificent views. Visit four wineries and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch, courtesy of your tour guide. Lasts: 6 to 6.5 hours Departs: Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, and Solvang Contact: 805.646.3200
3. Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours --Here's a great way to combine your love of cycling with wine tasting. Choose a half-, full-, or multi-day package based on your cycling ability, then get ready for an inspiring ride, highlighted by a stop at a Santa Barbara Wine Country winery. Some tours stop at lavender and olive farms as well. Lasts: 4.5 hours to 1 week Departs: Santa Ynez and Los Olivos Contact: 888.557.8687
4. Santa Ynez Valley Wine and Horse Tours --Saddle up, or simply tour some of the county's finest horse farms, and then taste some of the region's finest wines when you take one of these innovative tours. One full-day tour starts on the beach with an invigorating horseback ride, followed by a drive to wine country wineries, horse facilities, and more. Lasts: 3.5 to 8 hours Departs: Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Contact: 805.688.5984
5. Stagecoach Company Wine Tours --Seeking the VIP treatment? You'll be picked up and dropped off at your hotel, enjoy a picnic lunch at a vineyard, and receive a souvenir wine glass when you opt for this tour. You'll visit four wineries on your excursion and learn a lot about wine. Lasts: 4.5 to 6 hours Departs: Santa Barbara, Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, and Buellton Contact: 805.686.8347
6. Sustainable Vine Wine Tours --Tour the organic vineyards and wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley in a biodiesel Mercedes van with a knowledgeable, passionate guide. Learn about the entire winemaking process and the difference Biodynamic and organic farming practices make--and enjoy an organic picnic lunch along the way. Lasts: 6 to 7 hours Departs: Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Contact: 805.698.3911
7. Vin Dal Limousine --Taler du dansk? If you do (speak Danish, that is), you'll enjoy this custom tour in a super-stretch luxury limousine or town car. The quaint Danish-inspired town of Solvang is a must for your itinerary. Non-Danish speakers are welcome, too. Lasts: 4 hours Departs: Santa Ynez Contact: 805.598.2356
8. Wine Edventures --It's no accident that education is part of the name of this tour company, which promises a knowledgeable guide at your side. Visit four wineries in a comfortable mini-coach or van and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch and souvenir wine glass. If you already know where you want to go, the hourly rate will appeal to you. Lasts: 4 to 5 hours Departs: Santa Barbara, Solvang, Carpinteria, and Ventura Contact: 805.965.9463