Move over Napa, Santa Barbara is the new wine region on the scene. Santa Barbara is taking the viticultural world by surprise with its unlikely success in the coastal valleys and mountain ranges. While it’s often overshadowed by Sonoma and Napa Valley, Santa Barbara Wine Country is rapidly earning a reputation of its own. With its pinot-thriving climate and medley of terrains, it’s planting the way for vineyard fame outside of the NorCal region.

On your next trip to the West Coast, prep your palate and give wine tasting in Santa Barbara a chance.

Santa Barbara Wine Country

Viewfinder Tip: Santa Barbara County has more than 100 wineries, so map out your trip with your top picks.

So what gives Santa Barbara a step up? It has a lot to do with its unique geography and climate. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, while the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains sit in the east. This natural design means that the vineyards closer to the coast experience different temperatures than those in the mountains, particularly due to the ocean breezes, which start in the west and work their way east.

In addition to climate, the landscape, soil, and terrain differ from seaside to mountains. This diversity allows a variety of grapes to flourish in each region, which in turn, creates a broad spectrum of wine variations.

Santa Barbara wine tours

The Santa Barbara County boasts five official American Vitricultural Areas (AVAs), from the Santa Ynez Valley in the south to the Santa Maria Valley in the north. Within these AVAs, you’ll stumble across a number of Santa Barbara wine trails dotted with vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms. For Santa Barbara wine tasting of epic proportions, saunter over to the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Trail for some samples at the estate wineries and cellars, or discover the hidden vineyards along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.

Urban Wine Trail

Urban Wine Trail

Wine country is well worth the hike, but you don’t have to venture to the source to sip on the craft. The downtown Santa Barbara urban wine trail features more than 25 tasting rooms within walking or bike riding distance of one another. These vintners bottle up their pinots, chards, and syrahs, and uncork the taste of wine country at the seaside.

Of all the things to do in Santa Barbara, sampling the vino belongs at the top of your itinerary. Book a Santa Barbara hotel, arrange for a DD, and develop a taste for the Central Cali grapes.

What are your favorite Santa Barbara wine tours?