Passport Magazine Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang

Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail

Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail

Visitors and locals alike are invited to taste some of the finest wines produced in Santa Barbara County, all within blocks of downtown and the beach. Created by a group of like-minded wineries, the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail offers both novices and aficionados the opportunity to learn about and taste wines of many different varieties and styles crafted from Santa Barbara County’s best vineyards. So do your shopping, take your hike, see the sights and work on your tan, but don’t miss the opportunity to sip your way through the wineries of downtown Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Winery
Pierre Lafond has played a pioneering role in the history of Santa Barbara County’s wine industry since 1962 when he opened Santa Barbara Winery—the first post-prohibition commercial winery in the region. The visionary vintner has been producing top-quality wines ever since. (

Lafond Winery City Tasting Room
The renowned Lafond Winery single varietal bottlings of vineyard and Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are poured at the Lafond Winery City Tasting Room next to the Santa Barbara Winery Tasting Room in Santa Barbara’s popular FunkZone.  (

The Santa Ynez Valley AVA
By Matt Kettmann

The Santa Ynez Valley boasts nearly four decades of winemaking experience, and the early years of experimenting with different grape varietals have created the skyrocketing ascent of the region’s Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that thrives in the valley’s hot weather and proves delightfully intriguing by relaying distinctive flavors from vineyard to vineyard.

The Sta. Rita Hills AVA
By Matt Kettmann

After nearly 40 years of critic-pleasing experience, anyone who knows anything about Pinot Noir realizes that the Sta. Rita Hills is home to some of the most promising cool climate vineyards on the planet. Comprised of rolling hills and two east-to-west running valleys — one cut by Highway 246, the other by the Santa Ynez River, but both opening onto the blue Pacific, which delivers brisk breezes even on the hottest of summer days — the appellation is home to a divergent pattern of soils, patchwork of shade and sunlight, and dramatic elevation shifts that result in tremendous expressions of terroir in the most classic sense.

santa barbara wine county

The Happy Canyon AVA
By Matt Kettmann

In the early days of Santa Barbara County winemaking, the pioneers planted plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon, but much of the region proved too chilly for the Bordeaux varietal, The region eventually evolved into other grapes, locating the hot spots for Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc and cool zones for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Then, growers realized that the Santa Ynez Valley’s eastern end was hot enough to keep Cabernet and its Bordelaise sister grapes quite happy andwinemakers quickly discovered that not only do the Bordeauxs thrive, but they’re distinctively elegant, and so in 2009, the area — officially known as Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara — was granted its own appellation.

The Los Alamos Valley
By Matt Kettmann

For a region that lies between the cool Santa Maria Valley and even cooler Sta. Rita Hills, yet stretches east over the hills into the sometimes sweltering Santa Ynez Valley, it should come as no surprise that the Los Alamos Valley is able to produce wines that show off the climatic diversity of Santa Barbara County. From luscious Syrah and other remarkable Rhône grapes to promising Pinot Noir and celebrated Chardonnays to exciting plantings of Grenache Blanc and even Merlot, the Los Alamos Valley is a land o’ plenty with a bounty found in bottling from throughout the Central Coast.

Santa Barbara Wine Country

Santa Maria Valley
By Matt Kettmann
Due to the ocean-cooled climate and arguably the state’s longest growing season, there just might be no better place on the planet to grow Chardonnay than the Santa Maria Valley. Since the Santa Maria Valley runs east to west rather than north to south, like the Sonoma and Napa valleys, and opens directly onto the Pacific Ocean, there’s a strong sea breeze that kicks up every day by about noon, dropping daytime temperatures, keeping the evenings chilly, and assuring that the grapes take a long time to ripen, which leads to full flavor development.

Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association Post Office Box 1558
anta Ynez, CA;  93460-1558; Telephone: (805) 688-0881;

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