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Wineries in Santa Barbara

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by carissalynn, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. carissalynn

    carissalynn New Member

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    Hey everyone! I need some advice. My boyfriend is turning 30 next month and I am taking a group of 8 to Santa Barbara for a day of fun! I just have NO clue which winery would suite us best. First of all, none of us have a ton of money. In fact, we have the opposite. Ha! Second of all, we all have different tastes so we need a place that has different types of wine. Lastly, we would like to have little scenery maybe...I don't think any of us are into being couped up inside all day. Where is a good place for tastings? What about group tastings? Is there a place we can bring a picnic lunch to? What about actual winery tours? HELP! :)
     
  2. willpower

    willpower Senior member

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  3. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I was there last year. First, you have to understand that SB is not a winery/winemaking town. SB County has some wineries, mostly in the Santa Ynez Mountains. But the good ones do not offer tastings or tours.

    There are a handful of wineries with tasting rooms in downtown SB. There are more in Lompoc. None of these are the famous ones you have probably heard of.

    However, there are several restaurants in downtown SB that serve nothing but SB County wines, including all the famous names such as Sea Smoke, etc. Bouchon (no relation to Keller) is the best, IMO.

    Also, lower State Street is a great place to get a tattoo or a piercing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  4. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    that's not quite true. there are some good wineries that do have tasting rooms ... go to alma rosa (you'll recognize it from, sigh, sideways). i believe babcock does tastings as well. Gainey does tastings. Melville. I believe Sanford is running tastings now and you really ought to see that winery, gorgeous (guy who built it, richard sanford is a local pioneer, but was booted out and now runs alma rosa) ... it is true that many of the best don't ... brewer-clifton, palmina, loring ... these are basically "garagistes" that operate out of the wine ghetto complex out by lompoc.
     
  5. kwilkinson

    kwilkinson Senior member

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    Alma Rosa... yum. Biodynamic too, IIRC.
     
  6. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    not sure if they're certified biodynamic, but richard sanford was a very early adopter of organics.
     
  7. sygyzy

    sygyzy Senior member

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    Manton is right. Santa Barbara (proper) has a handful of wine tasting rooms but if you want to visit actual wineries, you need to go up the pass (154) to the Santa Ynez Valley. There are also more tasting rooms up in there in Los Olivos, Solvang, etc. I don't really think you care if you taste on the actual vineyard or not but just know the difference.
     
  8. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    i'd also recommend figuring out where you want to be in advance, because the wine area covers a lot of ground. if you like wine, probably best to establish in buellton, close to the santa rita area. there's a decent marriott (conveniently close to the hitching post, which has a good local wine list as well as really good steaks). if you're more into lazing around, pprobably solvang is better . there's stuff to walk to. (brad ogden has a new restaurant htere that's supposed to be really good) if you want to get a bit remote, los olivos is good (brothers is a good restuarant there).
     
  9. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    As foodguy mentions, many of the good wineries have tasting rooms, but it's hard to recommend one without knowing OP's tastes. I suggest getting a map, and just visiting a few to see what you like. Many are close enough that you can basically drive around with almost no plan, and still see plenty.

    The ones mentioned already are good, and the Santa Ynez valley is pretty scenic to just drive around anyway: many car commercials are shot back there. I prefer the smaller ones because you can often meet the winemaker there as opposed to a bartender. The small ones do tend to be a bit more ... umm ... rustic, so if you want a more polished experience, try the bigger ones like Sunstone. Some wineries with tasting rooms have some kind of area to sit outside and picnic, but it's best to call ahead and figure that out first.

    See here for a map of the various wineries:

    http://www.sbcountywines.com/visit/map.html

    Route 246 is the name of Ogden's restaurant, and it's been getting pretty good reviews too. In town, try Julienne for pretty good food --- their sommelier, who works on the weekend only, is also a winemaker who specializes in Austrian-style RIesling, but it doesn't have a huge list, certainly not compared to Bouchon.

    And lastly, I can't believe Manton visited SB without dropping me a note. :( Just kidding ... kind of.
     
  10. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    1) that loop around the santa rita hills (santa rosa road up to highway 1, back down 246) is just gorgeous. perfect central coast landscape. and you can stop at alma rosa and sanford (nice picnic facilities at lafond, too).
    2) I cannot express how much I LOVE Julienne in Santa Barbara. kind of stumbled across it, not expecting much and had a really, really terrific meal. very limited menu, but everything made right there and with a really high level of finish. and for street cred, ran into greg brewer (what passes for a celebrity winemaker in the area) who was entertaining some friends there.
     
  11. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    andre, I was on a boat and I smelled really bad.
     
  12. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    You must embrace your inner hippie. I don't like boating in SB: too damned cold and windy even when it doesn't look like it.


    I like Julienne quite a bit too, and like their food. What do you think of their proteins? I think their non-proteins (the first courses) are much better than their cooked meats, which sometimes tend to be a little bland and overdone for my tastes. I had a bean salad that was fairly amazing, and their charcuterie (also house-made) is pretty good, too, but I don't have a good reference for that kind of stuff. The Saturday farmer's market is just down the street from them, and I've often seen them rolling their carts back from there filled with stuff in the late morning. And they just recently got a pretty good review in the LA Times, as you know.

    They're kind of part of the gang of establishments in town that are owned by fairly young people: a bunch of them got together to do a shared flyer with a map of where they all were, and it was kind of shocking to see how many of the good local places were on there: French Press (really the only good espresso place in town, and perhaps the only good place between LA and Santa Cruz), C'est Cheese (a good cheese shop around the corner from Julienne), La Tour (a tiny wine shop specializing in Bordeaux), the local vinyl record shop, and a couple of other places.

    --Andre
     
  13. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    santa barbara has really improved as a dining scene in the last 5-10 years. amazing how many of them are wine cask refugees.
     
  14. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    Which other places do you like in SB? There's Bouchon for French-Cali, but I haven't been in literally years. The new Olio Pizzeria is good for Naples-style pizza, and Hungry Cat is pretty good. There's La Super Rica and Mexican food seems to be pretty good overall, but no good Chinese, Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese places, maybe one or two good Japanese places (Sakana in Montecito). There are too many Italian places here, and none really outstanding except maybe Olio & Limone, and there's always Downey's.

    --Andre
     
  15. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    i don't get up that often and my go-to has always been super-rica. i'm going largely by what friends tell me. oddly, i had a really memorable meal at pan e vino once, but when i went back and tried to replicate it, failed dramatically. hungry cat is always good. i have liked the wine cask from time to time over the last 25 years. doug margerum has it back now and maybe it will return to its former glory.
     
  16. sygyzy

    sygyzy Senior member

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    Julienne
    Wine Cask
    Stone House
    Plow & Angel
    Super Rica
    Jane
    Brothers' Restaurant
    Root 246

    Those are my picks in no particular order.
     
  17. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    We had great weather but SB was one stop on a trip down the coast. Was only there half a day and one night.
     

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