Would-be wine travelers often ask a familiar question: “When is the best time to travel to wine country?” The answer might be even tougher to find in a year-round destination such as the Santa Ynez Valley.
Is it summer, when the Santa Ynez Valley teems with energy? How about spring, when the budding vineyards offer an unmistakable optimism? Or winter, when the area is just a bit quieter and the region is awash in holiday cheer?
All are great seasons for a visit, to be certain. But the fall … well, that is an unmistakably alluring time of year for a visit to the wine country of Santa Barbara County. It is a time when the Santa Ynez Valley’s relaxed and welcoming wine country vibe is enhanced by the energy and freshness of the harvest season.
“The Santa Ynez Valley is a year-round destination, but there is a special energy in fall with the anticipation and excitement of harvest,” said Shelby Sim, CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “With fall’s combination of ideal weather and a slower pace, coupled with opportunities to meet and mingle with winemakers or talk food with local chefs, it’s no wonder travelers are increasingly interested in visiting this time of year.”
During fall in the Santa Ynez Valley, one does not have to imagine a day spent immersing themselves in the process of world-class winemaking. With more than 100 wineries spread throughout its six distinct communities, the region offers all a chance to truly discover the wines they love. As fall harvest begins, typically in September, a bounty of grapes from the valley’s vineyards are picked, sorted, and pressed, then left to age as they transform into the latest vintage of award-winning wines. The experience hits its apex with the opportunity to be among the first to taste the newest releases.
Of course, the farm-to-table cuisine of the Santa Ynez Valley has become as beloved as its wines. Restaurants such as The Bear and Star in Los Olivos, First and Oak in Solvang, The Gathering Table in Ballard, PICO in Los Alamos, and the Santa Ynez Inn in Santa Ynez — just to name a few — source their ingredients from local farms, ranches, and the bounty of the Pacific Ocean. And never is that culinary experience fresher than in fall.
Unique events dot Santa Ynez Valley’s calendar, too, including Santa Ynez Valley Scarecrow Fest (Oct. 1-31), The Great Grape Stomp at Kalyra Winery (Oct. 13), the inaugural Solvang Grape Stomp (Oct. 13), Los Olivos Day in the Country (Oct. 20), and Solvang Julefest in December.
Fall works hand-in-hand with what never seems to end. Here the culture is rich, deeply influenced by Native Americans, Catholic missionaries, cowboys, and European settlers. Cycling through vineyards or mountain hikes with ocean views offer something to adventure-seekers, and wine tasting and shopping are an ever-popular way to unwind in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley is simple at visitsyv.com, where visitors can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create custom travel itineraries.