Santa Barbara Culinary & Wine Tours
Food & Wine
Come visit Santa Barbara in spring to taste the new barrel samples at one of over a hundred boutique wineries. Our fields will be blooming with sweet, juicy strawberries, cattle grazing on rolling hills greened by seasonal rains, a reminder of our ranching history that is celebrated in the famous Santa Maria barbecue. Visit us in the summertime when a gentle ocean breeze cools our vineyards, even as our fields spill over with a cornucopia for which big city chefs would give their eyeteeth. Join us in fall for the grape harvest and the height of lobster season. Visit the farms, waters, vineyards, markets and restaurants that create, cultivate and celebrate our regional flavors. Shop at our colorful farmers' markets, where a network of dedicated growers brings an amazing array of produce and local specialties year round. Go fishing for sea bass or dive for crab and lobster in Channel waters with local experts. Tour a biodynamic winery where sound agricultural practices and care for the environment combine to yield outstanding wines. Relax over a splendid dinner prepared from regional ingredients and paired with prize-winning local wines at one of our outstanding restaurants. Smell, touch and taste your way through Santa Barbara County. You will fall in love with the flavors, the relaxed lifestyle and the scenic beauty of the American Riviera®.
Santa Barbara is a rich culinary destination offering truly regional cuisine created with home grown produce, freshly caught seafood and locally raised beef. Add a thriving wine industry and plenty of opportunities to get hands-on to the mix and you've got foodie nirvana. Click here for all things food and drink in Santa Barbara. Start planning your culinary adventure in Santa Barbara today!
To get the most out of Santa Barbara's food and wine activities, choose from the following:
Taste your way through a selection of the 130+ wineries and 24,000 acres of planted vineyards in Santa Barbara's Wine County. Recognized as one of the world's premium wine producing regions for chardonnay, pinot noir and Rhone varietals, and showcased in the Oscar®-nominated feature film Sideways, Santa Barbara County's Wine Country enjoys a unique microclimate ideal for growing a wide variety of robust grapes. Access the wine region via scenic Highway 101 or Highway 154 (San Marcos Pass). Consider stopping at Artiste Tasting Studios to express yourself by painting with wine on a community canvas or partaking in a wine blending workshop (by appointment only). After touring through one of Santa Barbara County's six wine trails, take a seat at a wine maker's dinner, and experience the vintner's expertise pairing of his or her wines with a gourmet meal enriched by locally grown ingredients.
Eco-Conscious Wine Trek
Head to the wine country for an organic wine tasting excursion. Visit Richard Sanford's newest sustainable, organic winemaking venture, Alma Rosa. Learn about their sustainable growing practices and sample Mr. Sanford's Santa Rita Hills pinot noir. Then head to Deborah's Hall's Gypsy Canyon Winery in Lompoc for a private tasting (note: by appointment only) with the winemaker who boasts the oldest vines in the County and produces a very rare Mission-Era "Ancient Vine" Angelica. Hall practices biodynamic growing, bottles her wines in recycled glass and makes her labels by hand with recycled paper. Make your way to Santa Ynez to visit the entirely biodynamically and sustainably farmed Demetria Estate, and taste their Rhone style wines; reservations required. End your wine tour at Sunstone Winery, a family-run operation that farms their 77-acre vineyards in an organic, bio-sustainable manner, meeting all California Certified Organic Farmer standards. Sustainable Vine Wine Tours offers guided tours of organic and biodynamic wineries in a biodiesel-powered van.
Urban Wine Trail
Don't have an entire day to devote to wine tasting in Santa Ynez or Lompoc? Experience the Santa Barbara Downtown Urban Wine Trail - all in one afternoon. Taste and tour eight wineries and tasting rooms conveniently located in downtown Santa Barbara. Most wineries offer wine purchase drop-offs at local hotels for tasters trekking on foot or bicycle. Wineries include Carr, Coquelicot, Jaffurs, Kalyra, Oreana, Santa Barbara Winery, Summerland and Whitcraft. Pick up a copy of the new Urban Wine Trail Map at any of the wineries on the tour route.
Santa Barbara County may be known for its wine, but that's not the only locally-produced beverage receiving raves. The region's seven micro-breweries give beer lovers a tasting trail of their own. On the south side, Carpinteria is home to the Island Brewing Company production facility and tasting room. In Santa Barbara, The Brew House and Santa Barbara Brewing Company are both lively, full service restaurants pouring their own beers as well as international brews. Telegraph Brewing Company has a tasting room near the Funk Zone and is sold in select local markets and served in local restaurants and bars. New on the scene, Hollister Brewing Company opened its doors May 2007 in Goleta, near the university, and Downtown Brewing Co. opened on upper State Street. And in Buellton, Firestone-Walker Brewery'sTaproom restaurant features their four award-winning beers in addition to four alternating beers on tap.
The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the nation's richest sources of bountiful, sustainable and high-quality seafood - from lobster, ridgeback shrimp, rock crab, white sea bass, California halibut, yellowtail, salmon, swordfish and thresher shark to such delicacies as Santa Barbara spot prawns and sea urchin. Santa Barbara Harbor's 100+ local fishermen catch between six and ten million pounds of seafood annually, which equates to a $35-$40 million industry. For the real deal, check out the salt of the sea characters and fresh haul at the Fisherman's Market, every Saturday morning at Santa Barbara Harbor.
Livin' La Vida Locavore
Eating like a "locavore" is a fast-growing trend for health-conscious and earth-friendly folk, centered around the simple concept of eating locally grown and harvested foods (within a 100-mile radius of where you live). Santa Barbara is uniquely self-sustaining when it comes to food and offers a truly regional culinary experience. Fresh, seasonal produce is readily available at daily farmers' markets and local grocery stores. Fresh catch from the Santa Barbara Channel is served up in local eateries and you can even buy seafood right off the boat at the Santa Barbara Harbor. Learn how to eat like a locavore on a guided culinary tour of Santa Barbara with Market Forays. After collecting ingredients at the Fishermen's Market, Farmers' Market, C'est Cheese and Our Daily Bread, Slow-Foodie guide Laurence Hauben will teach you how to prepare dishes you can easily make at home. The experience concludes with a delicious lunch paired to local wines. Tours are customizable.
Mission Huerta Restoration
For a taste of the past, Old Mission Santa Barbara's Huerta restoration project brings Mission Era agriculture and horticulture back to life with an "orchard-garden" of grapes, herbs, fruits and vegetables cultivated for cooking and medicinal purposes during the 65-year Mission Era (1769-1834). Local horticulturist Jerry Sortomme heads the project; interviews and Mission era recipes available.
School's in Session
Take a cooking class under the tutelage of a local chef and bring a taste of Santa Barbara home with you. Montecito Country Kitchen is the stop for visitors who enjoy eating their own art, paired with wine of course. Bon Vivant Laurence Hauben leads culinary tours and cooking classes by appointment. Or, call the Cook It School or Fairview Gardens to register for a scheduled class. Fairview Gardens was founded in 1895 and considered by many to be the oldest organic farm in Southern California, produces 100 different fruits and vegetables on 12.5 acres and offers self guided and educational tours. In the wine country, Trattoria Grappolo's chef Leonardo Curti puts an Italian spin on things with lessons in his home kitchen. And, the new Roblar Winery & Vineyards facility offers cooking classes taught by guest chefs from some of the world's finest restaurants and resorts.
Every region has its stash of great roadside eateries, places locals haunt and tourists hanker for. These sleeves-up, non-franchised, no-reservations outposts are driven by cooks, bakers and pit-masters who are true Americana folk artists, preserving regional cuisine infused with a dash of local color. In Santa Barbara, the area's rich and diverse agricultural and culinary roots run deep. Fork in hand, a regional romp delivers a delicious slice of locally-farmed foods crafted into seasonal dishes and regional specialties that define Santa Barbara cuisine. From the wonderful winter haul of spiny lobster to traditional Santa Maria-style barbeque and the sinful sweets of Solvang, the area is bursting with truly local bounty. Get off the beaten path and savor the flavors with a tasty trek from valley to sea.
For the ultimate fruit buzz, head out to Morrell's Nut and Berry Farm in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and handpick your raspberries and blackberries from July to October. In October and November try the tasty sun dried walnuts. The family-owned ranch is a postcard from the past with rows and rows of berries, a rustic barn offering baskets and an honor system jar. Nearby, one of the Morrell's is usually roaming the premises or whipping up preserves. There's nothing better than flicking these flavorful pods right into your mouth warm from the sun. Even better, take your freshly-picked basket down the road to The Brothers Restaurant at Mattei's Tavern and the bartender will whip up a batch of berry margaritas! Also in Solvang, Apple Lane Farm offers educational tours along with five varietals of apples.
Seasonal Events & Additional Activity Options
Taste of Solvang: food festival with a walking smorgasbord, wine, cheese, and dessert.
Downtown Art & Wine Tour: sampling of wine, downtown restaurants, and galleries.
Touring & Tasting's Annual California Wine Festival: 70+ wineries, gourmet food, and an ocean view.
Old Town Harvest Festival: a partnership of local growers and restaurants.
California Organic Festival: 80+ booths focusing on organics and gardening.
Celebration of Harvest: 60+ local wineries, music, a silent auction, and food.
Autumn Arts Grapes & Grains Festival: 20+ wineries, 15+ breweries, food, and art.
Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival: fresh seafood, maritime exhibits, and more.
California Lemon Festival in Goleta: lemon specialties and entertainment.
California Avocado Festival: the South Coast's largest free festival.
Real Men Cook: 50+ local chefs as well as wine, music, and a silent auction.
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