A Perfect Day in Santa Ynez
Think about Santa Ynez as the wild west of Santa Barbara County. The SY valley is a mere 30 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara but you’ll feel hundreds of miles away.
The views on the drive alone make it worth it. You’ll be longing for a convertible as soon as you turn onto Highway 54. This little road curves through the Los Padres National Forest and then swallows you whole when you descend past the striking blue Lake Cachuma into bright yellow pastures dotted with cows and horses.
Grab a coffee and light breakfast at the Los Olivos Grocery (2621 CA-154, Los Olivos) where you can also stock up on a picnic lunch filled with local snacks and beverages.
Make your way to Sunstone Winery (125 N. Refugio Road) where you’ll be instantly transported to Tuscany.
Sunstone winery is part vineyard, part tasting room and part private villa for those lucky enough to stay in one of their guest suites. Even if you’re just visiting, you’ll love exploring their cave like tasting room and landscaped gardens while holding a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc.
Here you can spend the late morning soaking up the sun (of which there is plenty) while playing lawn games amidst rosemary, lavender and olive trees.
In the early afternoon, seek shade at the Fess Parker Winery (6200 Foxen Canyon Road) nearby, where you can lounge on a luxurious lawn beneath large eucalyptus trees. The drive there passes manicured vineyards, expansive horse farms and pastures and is exceptionally beautiful. Bring a blanket and spread out your grocery purchases for a “wine country lunch” which you can enjoy with some brilliant Fess Parker wines.
Bounce around the neighboring wineries if you’d like, or, for the adventurous, take a drive along Figueroa Mountain Rd. into the Los Padres National Forest. The road starts out long and straight alongside ranches and farms and but will twist, turn and wind until you reach the mountains. Then you’ll begin to spot open fields and cliffs of wild poppies. Park along any open areas and enjoy the stunning views and fresh mountain air.