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The 8 Best Santa Barbara Wine Tours
Explore Santa Barbara's wine country in style during one of these outings.
Most wine tours in Santa Barbara head to the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley, where multiple wineries and vineyards produce their wine.Getty Images
Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Touted as the "American Riviera," Santa Barbara, California, is known for its beautiful mountain landscapes, abundance of outdoor activities and an overwhelming variety of fine dining experiences. What's more, a surprising number of wineries call this region home.
If you want to experience southern California wine country (Napa Valley and Sonoma rule the north), sign up for a guided wine tour. After gathering both expert and traveler opinion, U.S. News found these eight tours to be the best available. Each tour offers its take on what makes Santa Barbara vino special, transportation between wineries and the chance to learn from local winemakers.
Santa Barbara Classic Wine Tours
Patrons rave about this tour's wine, food and guides. Up to 11 participants will travel to three different vineyards for wine tastings, and if time permits, an olive oil tasting. You'll also enjoy a picnic lunch at one location. Wineries visited may include Roblar Winery & Vineyards, Lincourt Vineyards and The Brander Vineyard. Tickets start at $132 per person and include all wine tastings, transportation and lunch. Departure times range from 9 to 10:45 a.m. depending on your hotel's location; the tour normally lasts five to six hours. This tour is bookable any day of the week year-round. This company also offers both private and customizable wine tours.
Sustainable Wine Tours – Shared Wine Tours
Sustainable Wine Tours celebrates wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley that are committed to small-production techniques, organic agriculture and environmental ethics. Along the company's shared winery tour, you and up to seven other oenophiles will visit private wineries, enjoy an organic picnic lunch and take part in behind-the-scenes tours of barrel rooms and vineyards. Departures from Santa Barbara usually begin around 10 a.m., and the excursion lasts about seven hours. Tickets start at $165 per person and tours run daily year-round. Reviewers say this tour is unique and exclusive; they also find the wines delicious. Private winery tours are also available.
I Bike Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours
If you're looking for an active way to see area wineries, check out the I Bike Santa Barbara wine tour. The tour begins with transport to your departure point where you'll be outfitted with a bicycle and helmet. The bike tour consists of a 15-mile loop that includes stops at two wine-tasting rooms and a gourmet picnic lunch at a winery. You'll also be treated to a small snack and a souvenir water bottle, along with information about local wines from a knowledgeable guide. Tours normally depart Santa Barbara daily at 9 a.m. and return around 4 p.m. Tickets start at about $150 per person. Reviewers say this tour is a great way to learn about local wines while enjoying some exercise and the great outdoors.
Captain Jack's Tours & Events – Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tour
In addition to stops at three different wineries in the city, Captain Jack's Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tour offers round-trip transportation from anywhere in Santa Barbara, as well as an olive oil and vinegar tasting. There's also a stop for a meal during your tour. Reviewers call this outing informative, fun and relaxing. Tours depart at 10:30 a.m. daily and most conclude by 5 p.m. Prices start at $115 per participant. The company offers a variety of other wine-tasting tours, including one that travels to the nearby Santa Ynez Valley.
During each wine tour, participants will get to taste multiple kinds of wine. Getty Images
Wine Canyon Tours – Daily Tour
Explore boutique wineries of the Santa Barbara area on this approximately six-hour trip. During the half-day excursion, you'll enjoy a semiprivate tasting experience along with an olive oil tasting and a catered picnic lunch from Panino, a local sandwich shop. Wineries visited may include Dragonette Cellars, Melville Winery and Firestone Vineyard. Round-trip transportation from your hotel is included in the ticket price, which starts at $150 per person. Patrons say this tour is awesome and a great way to visit wine country. If you're short on time, consider the company's five-hour afternoon tour.
Eos Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Country Wine Tour
Stop at three different wineries in the greater Santa Barbara or Santa Ynez Valley area on this six-hour tour. Wineries visited may include Bridlewood Estate Winery, Demetria Winery & Vineyard and Rusack Vineyards, among others. Tickets start at $139 per person, and the price includes transportation, wine-tasting fees, a picnic lunch and bottled water throughout the day. Transportation is available in the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley area. Tours start at 10:30 a.m. Thursday through Monday. Patrons give this tour and Eos Santa Barbara excellent ratings, describing the experience as informative and fun. Prefer a less a structured tour? Eos Santa Barbara also offers a wine shuttle to select area wineries.
Stagecoach Co. – Wine Lovers Tour
This excursion takes up to 12 guests through the rolling green pastures of Santa Barbara wine country for an educational and delicious day of fun. Guides (many of whom have attained some level of sommelier certification) take participants to three or four wineries to sample local vino. A picnic lunch is also included. Oenophiles compliment their knowledgeable guides and the wineries selected for the tour. Tickets cost approximately $140 per person and include transportation, lunch and tasting fees and gratuity for your guide. Departure times range from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. depending on where you start the day; the tour typically lasts six or seven hours in total. Stagecoach also operates private tours, among other options.
Grapeline Wine Tours – Vineyard Picnic Tour
For reviewers, the highlight of this excursion is the helpful, well-organized guides. The Vineyard Picnic Tour offers an all-inclusive experience with stops at four wineries, a catered picnic lunch and round-trip transportation from many local Santa Barbara hotels. Tickets start at $120, depending on the day you tour and your pickup location. Tours begin departing at 9.a.m. from Santa Barbara hotels. Your day ends around 4 p.m. after which you'll be taken back to your accommodations.
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