Once upon a time, California wineries were sniffed at by connoisseurs who greatly preferred wines from France and Italy. So, while the tradition of viticulture in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County goes back many hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that California wines began to find their way into the glasses of gourmets and oenophiles. And, while Napa in Northern California initially grabbed most of the attention, serious wine lovers eventually found their way south.
Today, of course, the nearly 120 wineries in such towns as Buellton, Solvang, Lompoc, and Santa Ynez are ranked among the very best nationally and worldwide. Indeed, many prefer the more laidback, less crowded atmosphere of Southern California wineries compared to their northern competitors in Napa County.
The standing of Santa Barbara got a serious boost in the early 2000s from the film version of Rex Pickett’s novel, Sideways. So powerful was the Oscar-winning film’s impact that the opinions of the neurotic super-connoisseur played by Paul Giamatti boosted the sales of pinot noirs and, due to one of the film’s most hilariously profane lines, spurred a notable drop in merlot sales.
Today, connoisseurs agree that outstanding examples of the more popular varieties of wine can be found among Santa Barbara area wineries – including the unfairly maligned merlot! The wineries themselves offer many opportunities to enjoy some of the world’s best pourings in settings of great natural beauty, as well as many of California’s finest restaurants, including the Hitching Post II featured in Sideways. That’s only the beginning. Numerous outstanding wine country restaurants boast truly outstanding food, often locally sourced, and always a savory delight, whether it’s fine Mexican cuisine or traditional American ranch food. Naturally, foods can be paired some truly world class wines. However, top-flight beer and first-rate craft cocktails are also featured at many of the top restaurants in the Santa Ynez Valley area.
Finally, Santa Barbara County wine country also boasts its share of first rate hotels that offer nearly as many outstanding amenities as we do here at KLS. If you are planning a trip to the San Barbara County wine country and would like the finest chauffeurs in California to help the event go perfectly, call us today at the phone number above or through our contact page.