Santa Ynez Valley Winery Tour ~Part one~


Santa Ynez Valley is a popular wine-producing area not far from Los Angeles


Napa Wineries and Sonoma wineries come to our mind when we think of California wines.


However, there are many wineries throughout the state of California.


I would like to introduce a wine production area called “Santa Ynez Valley” which is actually in

southern California.


First, I show you where is Santa Ynez Valley…




It is close to the city of Santa Barbra which is about 130 miles northwest from Los Angeles by car.


It takes about two hours on the freeways.


So it is not far from the city of Los Angeles.


The Santa Ynez Valley, which is located in Santa Barbra County, is surrounded by the

Santa Ynez Mountains and San Rafael mountains.


Why is winemaking successful in this place?

The geographic area around Santa Barbara is close to the Pacific ocean and the humid air comes

from the ocean.


Also there is a significant temperature difference between the day time and night time.


These aspects are good for grapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


This is limestone from the Santa Ynez area.  It has many minerals and is good for grapes.


In 1782 a priest named Junipero Serra planted grapes in Santa Ynez Valley for the first time.


In 1920, however, some Christian leaders who were strict about their religion worried that many

immigrants were getting drunk.


So they made a famous law called “The Prohibition” which made all alcoholic beverages illegal,

including wine and beer.


This law was somewhat enforced in the United States for thirteen years, until it was repealed.


After the law was abolished, many people joined to wine business and then it became more popular

day by day in the US.


In 2004, a very popular movie called “Sideways” was a big hit.  Then people learned that Santa Barbara

has many great wineries and also some amazing Pinot Noir.



You can enjoy this movie with many views of Santa Barbara and sightseeing spots.



We joined a winery tour! 

Without further ado, I would like to tell you about this tour.


We joined a tour called “Explore Wines Tour” .


The organizer is a woman called Lisa Stoll who is Sommelier and got the first prize in the best US

Blind Tasting competition in 2018.


Lisa is the organizer of this tour. (Right side) And Lauren is her assistant. (Left side)


The story of how did Lisa win at the blind tasting competition.

Click link here

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The specific information about her “Explore Wines Tour “

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She picked us up at 10:30 AM at our hotel in Buellton, driving a Mercedes Benz Sprinter.


She asked about our favorite wine or grape variety then she choose great wineries and

took us to them.


We were so lucky that this time because there were just two of us in the tour this day and her friend

and an assistant, Lauren.


Just like a private tour!


We requested to taste Pinot Noir, and then she showed four different wineries.


Indeed, by the end of the day, we had tasted twenty-two kinds of red, white and rose wines  


Each winery has different characters and tastes.


This is the most enjoyable point for tasting wines, I think.


So I would like to introduce some wineries which we visited.


① Sogno del Fiore 

The owner of this winery has own vineyard, but he also procures grapes from other winery’s vines. 


He also sells olive oil and offers samples of that as well.


He is a unique winery owner.


There are some cottages and space for a party, like a Tuscany village.


So the guest can stay and hold a wedding party here.


Like a summer house in Tuscany.


Also, he often holds an event for the wine club.


At this winery, if you are not on an organized tour and you just walk in, you can taste

six different wines including reds and whites for $20/person.


Tasting wines in outside!


The owner explains how to enjoy wines and how to choose wines.


The owner explains about wines.


Do not forget to make a reservation in advance.


For more about Sogno del Fiore click on the link.

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② Andrew Murray Vine Yards 

The owner of this winery is named Andrew Murray” and he fell in love with Syrah when he traveled to

France in the 1980’s.


Then he studied wine at UC Davis, and after that he started a wine business.


He is very particular about producing wine and he is highly evaluated in the wine industry.


The tasting room was modern and bright.


And we could see some huge barrels in the basement.


Modern and bright tasting room.



They have some tasting courses.

For example, if you are not already on an organized tour,

  • Tasting five different wines for $20per person
  • Tasting and visiting vineyard and warehouse for $25/person.

 Business hours:11:00 AM ~5:00 PM


This is a tasting menu.


We chose a course of tasting five wines course and tasted one white and four red wines.


Syrah, vintage 2015 was so tasty.


We bought this Syrah.


This Syrah had stayed for 18 months in a barrel. So the taste was a medium body and easy to drink.


Do not forget to make a reservation in advance!


There are nice tables and chairs to have lunch with wines. Since we joined her tour, Lisa prepared a light lunch. (Included in this tour fee.)


More about Andrew Murray Vine Yard in the link below.

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③ Babcock Winery & Vineyards 

The owner, Bryan Babcock, has been concentrating on his passion for producing wines for thirty years.


This is the view of winery and vineyard.


Especially, he focuses on Pinot Noir and chardonnay.

Tasting course

  • Selection Du Jour (Five wines) $16/person
  • Premium Selection (Five wines) $20/person

Business hours: 11:00 AM ~5:00 PM


This is the tasting menu.


It’s like a furniture showroom. And the staff are friendly.


Brian’s wife used to work for the fashion industry. She decorates with a mid-century style in the tasting room.


There are sofas and also hats and western boots. So it’s like tasting wines in a clothing store or interior shop.


So stylish decorations.


We chose Selection Du Jour and Premium Selection.


My favorite was the Pinot Noir, vintage 2017.


Both are Pinot Noir. The right side is a bottle of Premium section wine.


The specific information about Babcock Winery & Vineyards in the link below.

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④ Brick Barn Wine Estate 

This is winery become my favorite winery.


This modern building is the tasting room.


I love this great wide vineyard view and the modern tasting room.


In the entrance of winery.


The owner of this winery, Norman Williams bought this land in 1968.


In the entrance to the tasting room.


At first, he started an Arabian horse ranch.  But later he changed to growing grapes.


Then he expanded his business by producing his wine.


Nowadays, he owns a large land tract of about 35 acres and he plants many varieties of grapes. 


Wide open winery.


A map of this winery. This map tells us which grapes are.


Light and comfortable tasting room.


Well, the tasting at this winery was mainly Whites wine and was called ” White Flight Course” for $15/person.


Also, you can taste both white and red wine in a program called Mixed Flight” for $20/person.


Business hours: Sunday to Thursday 11:00 AM ~5:00 PM, Friday to Saturday 11:00 AM ~6: 00 PM)


This is the tasting menu.


This time we chose both tasting menus.


Because we wanted to taste every wine!


Why I love this place because they serve Ros


Rose wine used to be a wine for especially summer season, but in these recent few years, we can see

rose wine anytime at restaurants and supermarkets in California.


The wines of mixed tasting are Grenache Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet.


I have never heard of “Grenashe”.


Grenache is known as a grape variety for blending and it is suited to growing in hot and windy areas.


This Granache makes a unique wine which has a strong,full-body taste or a light and juicy taste.


We bought a bottle of Granache Rose and Pinot Noir.


The Rose has a dry and light taste and the Pinot Noir has a medium body.


Both are so great wine!


Actually, we visited this winery again after this trip then we bought a half dozen Rose and

a couple of Pinot Noir 


This is Granache Rose.


I really love this winery


There are cozy sofas and tables outside. It can be used for a wedding party or similar event.


Moe information about Brick Barn Wine Estate in the link below.

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Well, how about the story about the tasting tour?


Now you know that not just Napa is famous for wine, but there are also a bunch of great wineries in Southern California!


We can see many vineyards around this area when we are driving.


Somewhere in Santa Ynez. These white signs are pointing to wineries!


Why don’t you come to this great place, Santa Ynez!


You can join the tasting tour like us or you can just walk in to the winery which you are interested in.


How about tasting different kinds of wines and find your favorite wine?


However, don’t drink so much and be careful about driving!


Next time I would like to introduce a famous restaurant which was showed in the movie called “Sideways”

in a small town called “Los Olivos”


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