A short jaunt north-east of the city of Santa Barbara is the charming town of Santa Ynez. The country roads offer a moment of serenity as you drive along the sleepy hollows and go past the vineyards, ranches, and meadows with babbling brooks running through. The smell of roses, hay, and eucalyptus will rejuvenate your senses.
Slumber: Found in the center of town is The Santa Ynez Inn, a Victorian-era building that has all that the 21st century has to offer. Its luxury is endless with lavish suites replete with fireplaces, oversized whirlpool tubs, large flat-screen TV’s, and exceptional hospitality. Their inspired breakfast, offered in their French-country influenced dining room, is not to be missed. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/bancroft&ivy)
Meet new friends at their evening wine and hors d’oeuvres tasting in front of their main fireplace. And return from your night out to find their complimentary dessert on display in the dining room. Then, go sleep between Frette linens on plush beds. This place will no doubt soothe your soul.
Imbibe: There are over 70 wineries and tasting rooms in this unique wine valley. There are too many brilliant wineries to list, but a few notable newcomers: from Demetria Estate Winery (open to the public, but call for appointment), enjoy the private drive that ends at their outdoor Tuscan style garden, where you’ll drink inspired wines. Then, there’s Tres Hermanas Winery, a family-owned cattle ranch turned winery. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/esimpraim)
Feast: In this rural area you will still find food that speaks to the discerning palate. For a taste of Asian-French drive literally a few minutes from Santa Ynez to the Ballard Inn Restaurant which has a romantic dining room and pairs local wines with their gourmet dishes. Panino's on the main street, serves up hearty sandwiches that are perfect for a vineyard picnic.
To Do: Obviously, wine tasting is a given. But, for a great afternoon of exercise, rent bikes at the Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours, found in town and ride through the exquisite countryside for a few hours, or have a guide take you on a tour. Seeing the beauty of the countryside from this perspective makes all the difference.
Here’s a toast… to you.