Santa Barbara Wine Country is the best kept secret in California.

This region was put on the map in 2004 with the movie SIDEWAYS. Still, it’s overshadowed by Napa and Sonoma’s marketing campaigns, but this is where you find some of the best, if not THE best, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Reread the previous sentence; as good or better. Better than Sonoma in my opinion.

Poster of movie Sideways

The ambiance of the wine country is so unique, highlighted by the quaint towns of Solvang and Los Olivos. Add these towns to your bucket list.

Let’s start with the Sta. Rita Hills ….

A view of Sanford Winery from above
The area is quite diverse. Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Appellations (AVAs) have cool climates because they are closer to the coast. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes love the area because the fog rolls in at night to provide the cool, moist air that the finicky Pinot Noir grapes require. That is why you see most California and Oregon Pinot Noir grapes grown closer to the coast where the mountain ranges are vertical to the ocean’s shoreline.

Favorite SRH wineries of those who have taken my tours are Dierberg, Star Lane, Foley, Pence, The Hilt and the iconic wineries Sanford and Sea Smoke. Sea Smoke produces very complex, delicious, and unique wines. The price is comparable. Dierberg has two locations, the other is in Santa Ynez valley. Want a venue where you taste most of the wines from the Sta. Rita Hills? Try the Taste of Sta. Rita Hills tasting room in the cute town of Los Olivos. Antonio and Jeni provide a great tasting and educational experience.

Next up: Santa Ynez AVA and the regions’ unique towns ….


Orson Hall from Wine PartiesOrson Hall is the Founder and Owner of Wine Parties by Design in Atlanta. He runs a wine travel company that is sort of the domestic equivalent of Wine Lovers Travel.  He organizes vacations to the best wine regions in the USA and has a particular affinity for the Santa Barbara County AVA’s.