Whether you are a resident of Southern California or just visiting, I highly recommend taking a wine tour through the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, just past Santa Barbara. It’s not as hyped as the famous Napa Valley but it offers breathtaking scenery, quintessential California weather and tasty wines. In January, for a dear friend’s birthday, we took a full day private wine tour, visiting four distinct wineries in the region. Wine Edventures of Santa Barbara (www.welovewines.com), picked us up from the RV park we were staying in, drove us to each winery while providing a history of the area and explaining the wine making process along the way. Included in the tour price was a delicious picnic lunch, wine tastings at each winery we visited (4-5 wines were provided at each estate), take home wine glasses and roundtrip transportation (which allows for safe day long enjoyment of the wine!)
Our first stop was the Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery. We were given an introduction into the grape growing and wine making process and were then off to enjoy our first wines.
Our second stop was by far our favorite. Sogno del Fiore Estate Resort is a small resort in the valley built by owners, Jerry & Liz. They offer a wine club for which Jerry hand selects the California wines and they have wine events throughout the year. You can stay in one of the two rooms on property, anchored on either side of a glistening pool, overlooking their vineyard. With lightbulbs strung over the garden, overgrown vine arches and wine barrel tables, you feel like you are transported to Italy. Jerry is so warm and welcoming that you feel as if you’re at a friend’s house and you don’t want to leave. We enjoyed our lunch here and picked up a few bottles of wine. We had the best wine of the entire day here and the experience was second to none. If you only visit one place in the Santa Ynez Valley, it should be Sogno Del Fiore. They offer limited visits for private groups only so be sure to request it when you book your tour.
The bar had been set so high with our visit to Sogno del Fiore that it was hard for any other winery to stand out after we left. We traveled the picturesque, rolling hills on our way to our third stop, Rusack Winery. I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the wines here but it’s worth a visit purely for their patio built under a canopy of California oak trees and stunning views. You can bring lunch to enjoy on the patio and soak up the surroundings.
Our last stop was at Koehler Winery. The grounds are inviting with porch seats to lounge on with a glass of wine and we were able to see the barreling process with their on site plant. By the fourth stop you are a little “wined out” but we did enjoy a light Moscato from Koehler which was a great finish to the day.
Not only was the day a great introduction to wine but it was a lovely way to see a serene, naturally beautiful part of California. We still have a few special bottles we bought that day that are going to be enjoyed on my birthday in a few weeks. Cheers to that!