South Central Coast: Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills

The far reaches of the Sta. Rita Hills are about a 30 minute drive from Santa Ynez. Distinct geology and geography combine to form a unique maritime corridor for producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyards and wineries are scattered about two east-west oriented valleys (centered around Santa Rosa Road and Highway 246). Many wineries have tasting rooms, and several wineries' tasting rooms are in close proximity in the city of Lompoc at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Some wineries are on gravel/dirt roads. Refer to the appellation website ( for a good map.

Recommended Wineries

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Address7250 Santa Rosa Rd., Buellton
Tasting RoomQuaint shack made famous in the move Sideways. Open daily 11-5.
ProductionPinot Noir, Chardonnay
WinemakerChristian Roguenant
OwnerRichard and Thekla Sanford
PoP coverageAlma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Au Bon Climat
Address1672 Mission Dr., Solvang (tasting room).
Tasting RoomTastes of the Valleys, Thursday through Monday, 11-4. The winery at Bien Nacido Vineyard is not open to the public.
WinemakerJim Adelman, Jim Clendenen
OwnerJim Clendenen
PoP coverageAu Bon Climat
Cargasacchi/Point Concepcion Wines
Tasting RoomTours and tasting by appointment.
WinemakerPeter Cargasacchi
OwnerPeter Cargasacchi
CommentsPeter is a well-respected winegrower in the Sta. Rita Hills, and some time spent with him will give you considerable insight about growing and crafting Pinot Noir in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation.
Clos Pepe Vineyards
Address4777 E Hwy 246, Lompoc
Tasting RoomTours and tastings by appointment.
Production900 cases Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
WinemakerWes Hagen
OwnerStephen Pepe
CommentsEstablished in 2000
PoP coverageClos Pepe Vineyards
Fiddlehead Cellars
Address1597 E Chestnut Ave., Lompoc
Tasting RoomTours and tasting by appointment.
ProductionPinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc
WinemakerKathy Joseph
OwnerKathy Joseph
Comments97 acres owned. The annual Fiddlefest held at Fiddlestix Vineyard every June is one of my favorite Pinot events. Established in 1999.
PoP coverageFiddlehead Cellars
Flying Goat Cellars
AddressLompoc "Wine Ghetto"
Tasting RoomAt Wine Country, 2245 Alama Pintado Ave, Los Olivos, open 11-5 daily.
Production2,300 cases Pinot Noir, sparkling wine
WinemakerNorm Yost
OwnerNorm Yost
PoP coverageFlying Goat Cellars
Gypsy Canyon
Address4373 E Hwy 246, Lompoc
Tasting RoomBy appointment ($25 with cheese pairing). Tasting in owner's quaint barn.
ProductionPinot Noir and Angelica (dessert wine from Mission grapes. Very small production.
WinemakerDeborah Hall
OwnerDeborah Hall
Comments Visit one of the last remaining Mission grape vineyards in California.
PoP coverageGypsy Canyon
Hartley-Ostini Vintners Hitching Post Wines
AddressCentral Coast Wine Services, Santa Maria
Tasting RoomDaily 4-6 at Hitching Post II Restaurant, 406 E Hwy 246, Buellton.
Production900 cases of Pinot Noir
WinemakerGray Hartley
OwnerFrank Ostini, Gray Hartley
Ken Brown Wines
Address2025 Still Meadows Rd., Solvang
Tasting RoomBy appointment.
Production2,500 cases Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah
WinemakerKen Brown
OwnerKen and Deborah Brown
PoP coverageKen Brown Wines
LaFond Winery & Vineyards
Address6855 Santa Rosa Rd., Buellton
Tasting RoomOpen daily 1-5. Beautifully landscaped grounds with picnic tables and views.
ProductionPinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay
WinemakerBruce McGuire
OwnerPierre Lafond
PoP coverageLafond Winery & Vineyards
Prodigal Wines
AddressPO Box 957, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Tasting RoomBy appointment.
ProductionPinot Noir, Pinot Gris. Small production.
WinemakerStephen Russell
OwnerStephen and Mary Russell
PoP coverageProdigal Wines
Roblar Winery & Vineyards
Address3010 Roblar Ave, Santa Ynez
Tasting RoomOpen daily 10-5. Gardens, vista terraces, large indoor/outdoor fireplace, culinary school.
ProductionMultiple varietals, mainly Rhone.
WinemakerRichard Foster
OwnerRichard Foster
CommentsEstablished in 2007.
PoP coverageRĊblar Winery & Vineyards
Rusack Vineyards
Address1819 Ballard Canyon Rd., Solvang
Tasting RoomOpen daily 11-5 in summer (winter hours vary). Great spot for picnic with majestic oaks and serenity.
Production7,000 cases Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah
WinemakerJohn Falcone and Catherine Stephens
OwnerGeoff and Alison Rusack
Comments17 acres owned. Established in 1995.
PoP coverageRusack Vineyards

Recommended Lodging

1880 Union Hotel
Address362 Bell St., Los Alamos
CommentsBuilt in 1880 as a stagecoach stop. 14 rooms (from $105) with a country home design, some with bathrooms down the hall. Lovely back garden, a sitting room and a rowdy saloon.
Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Address1054 Alisal Rd., Solvang
CommentsMore a destination resort for families.Horseback riding, golf, swimming. River Alisal Grill (brkfst, lunch, dinner). Beloved by many.
Ballard Inn & Restaurant
Address2436 Baseline Ave., Ballard
Comments15 romantic rooms. Brkfst included. My favorite lodging in the area. Oustanding restaurant as well. (see under Recommended Restaurants).
Best Western Andersons, Motel 6, Santa Ynez Valley Marriott
CommentsTypical hotel accommodations close to Highway 101. Avoid Days Inn Windmill featured in Sideways.
Cabins at Jalama Beach
Comments7 newer pine cabins at Jalama Beach near Santa Barbara with magnificent ocean views. The cabins sleep 4 to 6 and have kitchens and baths. From $100 plus a $20 reservation fee, 2 nights minimum.
Chumash Casino Resort
Address3400 E Highway 246, Santa Ynez
CommentsLuxurious hotel that is affordable. Casino, Willows Restaurant (steak and seafood).
El Capitan Canyon
CommentsComfortable cabin camping and resort in the Santa Barbara foothills. Glamping (glamourous camping).
Embassy Suites Lompoc
Address1117 North H Street, Lompoc 93436
CommentsA short drive to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto and Sta. Rita Hills wineries. Located in the heart of downtown Lompoc. Renovation and updating of hotel and grounds was undertaken in 2016.
Fess Parkers Wine Country Inn & Spa
Address2860 Grand Ave., Los Olivos
CommentsDeluxe and expensive B&B lodging with DaVine spa. Marcellas Restaurant is new in 2008 (formerly Wine Cask).
Hadsten House Inn & Spa
Address1450 Mission Dr., Solvang
CommentsNewly renovated and located in downtown Solvang. Solvang is pretty kitschy and touristy to me, but some enjoy the ambiance. Hygge Restaurant is in the Hadsten House.
Hotel Corque
Address400 Alisal Road
CommentsA boutique hotel owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Excellent restaurant by noted chef Bradley Ogden: Root 246. Rooms have state-of-the-art amenities. Perfect location to explore Santa Ynez Valley.
Santa Ynez Inn
Address3627 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez
CommentsVictorian styled 14 room B&B. Cooked breakfast.
Victorian Mansion Bed & Breakfast
Address362 Bell St., Los Alamos
CommentsUnion Hotel is a restored Wells Fargo Depot dating to 1880. The Victorian Mansion was built in 1864 and moved to its present location in 1980. There are six eclectic fantasy-themed suites. All of the original murals have been restored as part of a complete restoration in 2007.

Recommended Restaurants

Avant Tapas and Wine
Address35 Industrial Way, Buellton (Terravant Wine Co)
Phone805-686-9400 x5
Comments30 wines by half glass or glass using key card. Comfortable room looking out on winery with videos of winemaking constantly showing. Home to Ken Brown, Hitching Post, others. Excellent small plates. Open 11:00-8:00 Thursday thru Sunday.
Ballard Inn & Restaurant
Address2436 Baseline Ave., Ballard
CommentsBudi Kazalis fusion cuisine. Intimate dining and superb wine list and service. Wine-tasting bar Fri-Sun, 12-4:30 (Kenneth-Crawford, Ken Brown, Lane Tanner, etc.). Very highly recommended.
Brothers Restaurant at Mattei's Tavern
AddressHwy 154 at Grand Ave., Los Olivos
Comments19th century stagecoach stop.
Cold Spring Tavern
Address5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara (off Hwy 154 between Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara))
CommentsBLD in an 1860's stagecoach stop. Tri-tip sandwiches a specialty. Live music frequent. Favorite of young winemakers and cellar rats. Indoor and outdoor dining.
Full of Life Flatbread
Address225 West Bell St., Los Alamos
CommentsArtisan flatbread pizzas. Ingredients organically grown within 400 miles. Organic frozen flatbread pizza maker during the day, transforms into a restaurant four nights a week (Thurs-Sun). Popular spot for area winemakers. Candied apples are signature dessert. Dinner Fri-Sun only. Nothing over $25.
Global Gardens Caliterranean Cafe and Store
Address380 Bell St., Los Alamos
CommentsChef Theodora Stephan opened this restaurant in 2013 in Los Alamos. The restaurant occupies the town's historic mercantile building which is shared with the Casa Dumetz wines of Sonia Magdevski. Cooking is mostly vegetarian with globally inspired flavors. Her Global Gardens specialty food company makes 50 different products from olive oils to fruit vinegars, mustards and spice blends and these products are sold in the Los Alamos store.
Hitching Post II Restaurant
Address406 E Hwy 246, Buellton
CommentsLong-standing tradition in the Santa Ynez Valley. Home of Harley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines which you can sample and purchase. Very popular since the movie Sideways. Steaks, ostrich, grilled artichokes.
Industrial Eats
Address181 Industrial Way, Buellton
CommentsPart takeout, part butcher shop and part order-at-the-counter restaurant. Lunch or dinner. Wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and deli plates ideal for sharing. Lamb shawarma pizza with feta and harissa, Siracha, farm egg and crispy pig ear pizza, excellent salads made from nearby farm produce, and don't forget the Whopper cookie.
Jalama Beach Café
Address400 E Ocean Ave, Hwy 1, Lompoc
CommentsBreakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Great hamburgers "Jalama burger"). Central Coast wine list with most wines under $30. Winemaker dinners.
Los Olivos Café & Wine Merchant
Address2879 Grand Ave., Los Olivos
CommentsCalifornia cuisine and Central Coast wines. Wine store. Featured in Sideways.
Root 246
Address420 Alisal Rd., Solvang
CommentsBradley Ogden is the consultant for this restaurant located at Hotel Corque in Solvang. The Chumash Indians purchased the old Royal Scandinavian Inn and refurbished it. The fresh American cuisine is executed by Chef Jonathan Hall, a protege of Ogden's. Contemporary with two bars.
Sissy's Uptown Cafe
Address112 South 1 St., Lompoc
CommentsGrilled sandwiches, inexpensive. 300 different local wines with some limited production and hard to find bottlings. Wine tastings including Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noirs for $3 per taste.
SY Burrito
Address1051 Edison St., Santa Ynez (inside the Rio Market)
The Cold Spring Tavern
AddressRoute 154, 10 minutes north of Santa Barbara (lookfor the sign).
CommentsA stagecoach stop in the 1880s. Order the tri tip sandwich. Many bikers on Sundays.
The Porch Restaurant at Los Olivos Grocery
Address2621 Hwy 154, Santa Ynez
CommentsCasual, wine at retail. Gourmet grocery.
The Vineyard House
Address3631 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez
CommentsCalifornia regional cuisine. Patio seating. L&D. Located adjacent to the Santa Ynez Inn.

Picnic Supplies

Bell Street Farm
Address406 Bell St., Los Alamos
CommentsA market/restaurant serving sandwiches, salads and rotisserie chicken Fridays-Mondays 10:00 - 6:00.
Epicurean Picnic
Address1582 Mission Dr., Solvang
Comments100 artisan gourmet cheeses and specialty meats.
Farmer's Markets
Address475 1st Street, Solvang; 2900 Grand Ave, Los Olivos
CommentsA family-owned restaurant chain serving Italian inspired soups, salads and sandwiches in Santa Barbara County.

Wine Country Tours

Central Coast Outdoors
CommentsBike and van tours of wine country.
Cloud Climber Jeep Tours
CommentsTours to the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains and over wine country back roads to get to vineyards and tasting rooms.
Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours
CommentsCycling trips and tours in various wine tasting areas for every level of rider.

Appellation Websites