Santa Ynez Wine Valley


Santa Ynez Valley hit the map in 2004 when the movie Sideways was released. It is the perfect escape for a long weekend of wine tasting! The Valley is in the Central Coastline of California 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara.  There are 80+ vineyards in the Valley and it is home to the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. The Valley includes the quaint towns of Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos and Los Olivos. Each town has its own personality and wine tasting rooms. It is mandatory to taste the pinot noir and toast Miles and Jack when visiting the area. I made that part up; it is fun to watch the movie before you go.


Santa Ynez Wine Trail


This entire valley is scattered with vineyards. You will have no problem locating them. You may want to start on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.  Your hotel will be able to give you directions from your location. Make sure to spend some time exploring the towns and tasting rooms as well.




Solvang is known as the “Danish capital of America”.  There are several wine tasting rooms throughout the area. Shop and take pictures in front of the many windmills. Stop in the Hans Christian Anderson Museum and see his statue in Solvang Park.  Be sure to try aebleskiver from the Solvang Restaurant’s walk up window (round pancake balls with strawberry syrup – so good).  Also, be sure to stop in Mortensen’s and Olsen’s Danish Bakeries.  Just plan on eating the whole time you are there.  I love windmills. I love Danish Bakeries. I love Solvang.




Quicksilver Ranch is a little farm with miniature horses. They are adorable. The Ranch is open from 10am and 3pm and it is free.  The address is 1555 Alamo Pintado Rd. Don’t go beyond the gates even if the gate is open; they get very angry about this and you will embarrass your friend!


Quicksilver Ranch




Buellton is the home of split pea soup.  Seriously. Try it at Split Pea Andersons. Oh, and Buellton also has a huge part in the Sideways movie. You will find tasting rooms, the Hitching Post, the Days Inn windmill hotel and OstrichLand USA in Buellton.






There are 24+ tasting rooms in Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto. After your tastings explore the city. Lompoc is known as the “City of Murals in the Valley of Flowers”.  There are 40+ murals located in Lompoc’s historic old town area. Walk over to South H Street to see the canopy of Italian Stone Pines worth over 3 million dollars. There is a Farmers Market every Friday on the corner of Ocean Avenue & I Street and The Famous Lompoc BBQ is on most Saturdays along H Street.




If you are a fan of the Sideways movie, Ocean Lanes Bowling Alley is in Lompoc. There are not many flower fields left in the area, but there are a few. May through early September you will see patches of flowers west of Old Town Lompoc along Central Avenue and Union Sugar Avenue and Ocean Avenue where it crosses Floradale Avenue. The Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary is also in Lompoc. I was not able to visit and was disappointed. Check out their site, they offer tours and photo safaris.




Santa Ynez


Santa Ynez is a small western town with a serious honky-tonk saloon.  The Maverick Saloon is located on Sagunto Street and is worth a stop for a beer, BBQ and possibly a line dance or two. The Chumash Casino Resort is nearby, check their entertainment for upcoming concerts.


Santa Ynez


Los Alamos


Los Alamos is a very old western town. If you are close by, drive down Bell Street to see a few historical buildings and stop in the 1880 Union Hotel Saloon for a beer.


Los Alamos


Los Olivos


Los Olivos is a super cute town with 25+ tasting rooms. The town is also well known for its olive oil. It is a fun place to wander and shop. Be sure to stop at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant to see the wine wall of over 300 bottles. Another great stop is Saarloos & Sons; they pair wine with cupcakes!  Brilliant! If you have had your fill of wine there are some adorable coffee shops. Clairmont Farms Lavender  is a small lavender farm located nearby at 2480 Roblar Ave.


Los Olivos


Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch is located in the area. If you are curious the address is 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road. I may have found the gate, but, as expected, couldn’t see ANYTHING. It was fun searching.


Los Olivos


California's Santa Ynez Valley hit the map in 2004 when the movie Sideways was released. It is the perfect escape for a long weekend of wine tasting!


18 comments on “Savoring Grapes: Santa Ynez Valley
  1. We have been wanting to check this area out for some time. It is just barely close enough for a weekend trip from San Diego and biking through the hills above Santa Baraba sounds amazing. We would want to plan our trip during bloom season, of course and we’ll have to have a glass of wine as we peddle down the road.

  2. titi81 says:

    I like wine tasting so I would love to spend a few days on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail tasting wine andexploring the picturesque villages. Solvang looks so cute with the windmills I ahd no idea it was calledthe Danish capital of America.

  3. I’ve visited most of the spots you’ve mentioned and now you’ve reminded me that I really want to go and re-visit most of them! There’s so much to see in that area and each neighborhood has its own feel – and great food and wine!

  4. I don’t drink but reading through this list, I still would love to do a road trip through Santa Ynez Valley and visit some of the towns incl. Solvang and Los Alamos. They look like my kind of favourite destinations.

  5. Julie says:

    I know this area well, as my best friend from college lives near Lompoc. We try and visit every year, so I’ve driven by Anderson’s famous split pea soup in Buellton too many times to count! I also spent a long night once at Maverick’s in Los Olivos. I had NO idea, though, about the mini horses! And it’s free to visit??? Next time I’m in the area, I’m grabbing up my friend’s two little kids and hanging out watching tiny horses all day long. Can’t wait!

    • says:

      They were so cute! I planned it to make sure there was a baby; the website will let you know if they do. Adorable wobbliness!

  6. I’ve never heard of Santa Ynez Wine Valley, but it looks like a beautiful part of the world. And all that wine – I could spend weeks winery hopping, photographing the vines and tasting everything!

  7. Wow I would love to visit some of these wineries. I am from a wine region in New Zealand so one of my favourite thing to do is go on tastings!

  8. Santa Ynez Valley sounds like a fantastic destination for a girls getaway

  9. I’ve never heard of Santa Ynez Wine Valley, but I loooooove wines, so I definitely wanna check this place out! I love the pictures of the windmills.

  10. I saw that movie!! I loved the landscapes where everything happens:) Very nice to know a little more about it

  11. We love a good bit of wine tasting having just recently visited the Hunter Valley in Oz. This looks brilliant and definitely want to check this out next time we’re in the States. All of the little towns looks beautiful especially Solvang. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Carolina Colborn says:

    We passed by Solvang last 2009 but didn’t know there was this Wine Tasting Trail! My husband would have loved to go through each town…including sampling the split pea soup!

  13. California offers so many interesting attractions! Definitely a place to explore for a long time!

  14. thesanetravel says:

    I love vine tasting. It would be a great pleasure to me visit the places mentioned in your post. Thanks for detailed description.

  15. Claire says:

    The whole place looks picture perfect and like nothing that we have here in the UK! Also, those horses are so cute! I would love to visit here!

  16. Never heard of this area. The saloon looks interesting. Would love to get an olive oil tour!

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