A Pocket Guide To California’s Santa Ynez Wine Country

A Pocket Guide To California’s Santa Ynez Wine Country

Where to stay, eat, and play in the most charming valley of Santa Barbara’s wine region.

/ Lauren

Less than 40 minutes from Santa Barbara beach town lies the stunning Santa Ynez region. The inspiring valley is buzzing with creativity, restaurants, biodynamic farms, and art, yet remains a tranquil weekend escape. Cruising from the lush hills at the start of Spring, you’ll find yourself wondering if you’re in Provence or the South of Spain. Go for the food and wine, bring back olive oil and rejuvenation. Here’s our guide on where to stay, where to dine, what to see, and what not-to-miss.

Getting to and Navigating the Santa Ynez Valley

In the back country of Santa Barbara, northeast by car 40 minutes. About 2 1/2 hours north of Los Angeles, depending on traffic; roughly 35-45 minutes from SB Airport; and a little over 4 hours south of San Francisco.

The Valley is made up of six villages: Los Olivos, Sant Ynez, Los Alamos, Solvang, Ballard, and Buellton. They all reside within 5-10 minutes of each other, amongst the picturesque rolling hills.

A car is a necessity.


The Inn at Matties Tavern in Los Olivos, or for a group of 4-6, try snagging this gorgeous rustic farmhouse (in Los Alamos). It books out well in advance on weekends, so plan.

If you can take a mid-week trip, rates are lower, rentals are more available and restaurants are less crowded.


At Bell’s in Los Alamos

The Per Se alumni, Daisy and Greg Ryan have established quite a name for themselves between their three well-revered spots in the valley.

French-inspired bistro Bell’s (in Los Alamos) received a Michelin Star in 2021 (the first in the valley), locally-inspired seafood tavern Bar Le Côte (in Los Olivos), and weekend BBQ pop-up, Priedite, located right behind Bell’s.

Our Recommendation - try Bar Le Côte for lunch, splurge on Bell’s pre-fixe dinner, and relax with a late weekend BBQ lunch at Priedite.


Take a morning spin around the towns, pick up coffee at Lefty’s in Los Alamos then peruse the antique markets, and local craftsman, and catch an artist painting before heading over to Los Olivos for lunch. Enjoy the afternoon sipping wines, in town at many of the local wineries tasting outposts or in the hills at the vineyards just minutes away. A few of our favorites are Demetria Estate, Ranchos de Ontiveros, Brave & Maiden Estate, and Carhartt Family Wines. For more natural, organic, or biodynamic, we highly recommend Ampelos Cellars (1st sustainable, organic, and biodegradable in the US), Shokrian Vineyards, and in-town Solminer (Austrian family-run).