Good day fellow Somm's
I'm heading to Palm Springs for a family vacation and I am going to drive out to Santa Barbara for two days. Any insights on the area would be most appreciated.
Just got back from a quick trip to Los Alamos this weekend. Great little spot to stay as there are a couple hotels and a few great dinner spot's (Bell's, Pico and Flatbread) also Bob's Well Bread an awesome spot for breakfast and lunch all within walking distance. I really like Demetria in Foxen Canyon, they have some elegant Rhone style blends, you'll need a reservation. A lot of tasting rooms in nearby Los Olivos. Also, a lot of tasting rooms in the "Funk Zone" in actual Santa Barbara. Let me know if you'll be in LA at all.
Foxen and Presqu'ile are very cool wineries relatively close to each other that offer contrasting winemaking styles for Pinot Noir (Presqu'ile's tasting room just happens to be stunning too). Los Olivos is an awesome place to go taste a bunch of different wine (Stolpman, Bien Nacido Vyds, Brewer-Clifton) with real interesting restaurants. The "Wine Ghetto" is another cool place to taste a lot of different wine.
It all depends on where you’re spending your time. I did my best for ya…
Melville Winery Tasting Room
Pali Wine Co. Tasting Room (they sell some of their Oregon Pinots there as well and they are FIRE)
The Lark Restaurant
The Lucky Penny
BiBi Ji’s (modern Indian cuisine with a killer wine list)
Santa Barbara Public Market (SB’s version of Napa's Oxbow but definitely not as good)
Los Olivos (this is doable if you’re driving from Downtown SB to Sta. Rita)
Dragonette Cellars Tasting Room
Stolpman Tasting Room
Corner House Café for food
Sides Hardware for food
Sta. Rita Hills
Spear Vineyard (brand new facility, small production Pinot & Chard.. both are off the charts!)
Dierberg Star Lane
Industrial Eats (hit this place up on your way out for the most bomb food you will eat in Santa Barbara, hands down)
Highlights for me were Ojai (the library alone was worth the drive out there), Au Bon Climat (OG), Domaine de la Côte/Sandhi (make sure to get directions to the vineyards after tasting), Samsara (really made me think about single vineyard syrah from the area), Melville (obsession with neutral oak highlights terroir, right?), Jonata (probably my favorite stop on the trip), Beckman (cool vineyard...get there before sunset and wander around), and Stolpman.
I missed feel like I really missed by not making it to Paul Lato, Native9, and Palmina.
Should you make it to Solvang try Leonardo's. Cute little unassuming Italian restaurant that is wonderful. Best squid-ink pasta I have ever had. Pence was delightful as well. Lovely winery and a fun tour.
The great thing about Santa Barbara is the diversity in things to do & visit. Wine wise, there is a contrast between Santa Maria Valley & Santa Ynez Valley. If you have the time (and a designated driver), I recommend driving east to west in Santa Ynez Valley where you can try the cooler climate of the Sta. Rita Hills and follow it all the way through Happy Canyon, where the most full-bodied wines & Bordeaux varietals are available. In regards to dining, I have the following recommendations:
-East Beach Tacos: Nice little taco stand, that is close to the funk zone and a set of batting cages. Huge fan of the poke taco!
-The Funk Zone: This is kind of the trendy & hipster part of town (reminds me of Venice, CA a little bit). Great staples in here are Test Pilot for a rum bar, The Lark has some of the best service in town, & Brian McClintic opened up Les Marchands with Eric Railsback a few years ago. Several tasting room options as well. Everything is within walking distance here.
-McConnell's Ice Cream: Local classic, featuring a variety of flavors that rotate seasonally. There are now 3 store locations. Banana & Salted Caramel is their most popular flavor.
-Satellite SB: Favorite wine bar, focusing on local & minimal intervention producers such as Sandhi (Rajat Parr & Sashi Moorman) & Scar of the Sea.
-Bibi Ji: Rajat Parr's restaurant. Need I say more? lol
-Angel Oak: Shameless plug, but if you are looking for an in-depth wine list this is the place (until San Ysidro opens up again)! Currently have horizontals & verticals of Vega Sicilia, DRC, Calon-Segur, & a nice mixture of California wines from local wineries such as Grassini to Napa Valley favorites such as Colgin.
Please don't hesitate to reach out & let me know how we can enhance your stay in Santa Barbara!