There’s no better way to enjoy a relaxing weekend than a little wine tasting up the coast. You may be familiar with the popular Funk Zone, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more scenic, we recommend a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley. With rural roads, tucked away lavender fields, oak studded golden hills, and over 120 wineries, it is worth the short drive north.
The region itself is very diverse. The valley contains several different microclimates, producing a variety of award-winning wines. With so many options, it’s difficult to know where to start—enter, Wine Canyon Tours. With over 25 years of Santa Barbara County wine industry experience, Rick Reeves and the Wine Canyon Tour team bring a casual, yet informative wine country adventure.
As recipients of the 2015 Certificate of Excellence award on TripAdvisor—a spot on pick—Wine Canyon Tours delivers. They offer a range of options to choose from: group tours, private tours, and specialty tours like the Grand Cru that features a gourmet lunch, ultra exclusive wineries, and reserve wine tastings with the winemakers. What’s more, these guys offer remarkably comfortable transportation. Who wants to ride backwards in a limo on rural roads after drinking wine? Not us! Thankfully, Rick and his team offer a more authentic SUV option, or a Sprinter for larger parties.
For our recent trip, we booked a custom tour with Rick, who showed us around these top-notch wineries:
Ok, so this one is actually in Santa Maria Valley, but 100% worth the drive. We fell in love with the stunning, state-of-the-art (and sustainably certified!) winery. Situated on 73 acres, Presqu’ile (pronounced press-KEEL) is a small family-run winery dedicated to making exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Beautifully designed and infused with southern charm, Presqu’ile offers one of the most memorable wine tasting experiences we’ve seen. We recommend the 90-minute which features a steady intake of wine throughout several destinations: tasting room, cave, white and red wine levels, and the outlook terrace. The tour concludes with a side-by-side tasting of three Presqu’ile Pinot Noirs paired with a selection of artisan cheeses. Check out their calendar of events here.
This estate is situated hillside above Foxen Canyon and features exclusively Rhone varietals (think Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc). Demetria is the perfect place to picnic outside, offering generous seating and beautiful views of the rolling hills. We enjoyed Panino’s sandwiches—another Pro Tip from our new pals at Wine Canyon Tours. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton were rumored to have visited this estate recently.
Just a short drive from Demetria, Andrew Murray is a modern estate complete with Rhone varietals, a friendly staff, comfortable lounge, and our favorite—Jenga! Satisfy your sweet tooth with their special Chocolate Flight featuring an artful pairing with Jessica Foster Confections Truffles. Check out their events listings here to catch special tastings, singer-songwriter acts, and more.
Departing from Rhone varietals, we made our last stop at Roblar. The winery’s simple, barn-like exteriors overlook the estate’s gardens and vineyards, and give hint of the property’s peaceful interiors that mingle old and new, rustic and contemporary. With a massive stone fireplace, Roblar is the perfect place to wind down the day. Roblar offers wines that highlight the special flavor of the grape, while maintaining balance; expect high-quality, limited production lots. On weekends, don’t miss the Perfect Pairing, where you can try 5 current wines and small bites in the barrel room for $45.
Santa Ynez is continuously expanding. With new wineries opening their doors and pouring the latest blends, it’s worth an entire weekend. Check in with Wine Canyon Tours to learn about what’s new. If you’ve had too much vino, you can always stay at Belmond El Encanto for a luxurious night, just a short drive away.