The Coolest Way to Explore Santa Barbara's Wine Country
When most people think of California Wine, Napa, Sonoma and the Russian River Valley are the regions that typically come to mind first. I had barely even heard of Santa Ynez before a couple of years ago! The Santa Ynez Valley is a wine region that's a serious contender among these popular wine regions of California. Located about an hour north of downtown Santa Barbara, it makes for a great day trip! One of my favorite experiences from our trip to Santa Barbara this summer was doing a bike ride through the beautiful Santa Ynez valley with I Bike Santa Barbara! If you're a wine lover and enjoy the outdoors, this tour is the perfect way to experience this lovely region!
Our group consisted of two other couples (yay for small groups!). There are three different distance options you can choose: "The Classic": 15 miles, "Wine Lovers":12 Miles, or "The Jaunt": 9 miles.
We chose "The Classic" tour because, well, we're just hard core like that (kidding)! We started the ride in Los Olivos, which has a nice small town vibe! The first 9 miles were pretty easy with just some moderate climbing. Then you arrive in Solvang where part of our group dropped off because they were doing "The Jaunt" tour. We continued our ride making our way through Ballard Canyon. The last 6 miles were tougher and included some more serious climbs, but it was just the right amount of challenge for us. I was a little winded at the top of each climb, but just the right amount!
Along the way we had some beautiful scenery, and even got to stop and feed some goats!
We finished the ride back in Los Olivos. Los Olivos was such a neat little town, I felt like we were escaping our already relaxing location! Our first tasting, at Kaena in Los Olives was the perfect start to an afternoon of tasting! A winery started by a Hawaiian, Mikael Sigouin. Hawaii is just about our favorite place on earth and this wine was incredible! We started with a dry Rose, then a white, the Hapa Blanc, which had notes of Pineapple (perfectly subtle so it wasn't very sweet) and then a few different red blends. Their Grenache was fantastic! I was introduced to Grenache on this trip and absolutely loved the full bodied, richness of this wine.
Our next stop was a little farm for an Olive Oil tasting! We tried several different varieties! They were all were perfectly subtle, my favorite was the Meyer Lemon!
Our third and final stop was Rideau Vineyard for a tasting and a picnic lunch! We chose the Reserve tasting which included a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a Tempranillo. I personally preferred the wines at Kaena better, but these were still very good! During our tasting we sat down to enjoy a delightful picnic lunch! Who doesn't love picnics?! Our spread included charcuterie, sandwiches with proscuito, tomato and mozzarella, and some delectable cherries and nectarines!
After our bellies were delightfully full we headed back to downtown Santa Barbara.
Our guide, William, was great! Honestly, I can't imagine just driving through here when you can see it by bike! It was so much fun biking through the valley and seeing the beautiful rolling hills!
Some practical info:
What to wear
The wine region is typically much hotter than the coastal towns so keep that in mind. During the summer, I would wear a dry fit tank top and shorts that help wick away sweat. The bikes are Hybrid bikes, meaning they are a little more comfy than a road bike to ride and have slightly thicker tires, so it's pretty comfortable to sit on. William did a great job talking us through what the right gears so if it's been awhile since you've been on a bike, it will be no problem!
What to Bring
A small/light backpack would be great for carrying extra sunscreen, another layer or your camera! I just had my over the shoulder bag, but I rigged it to be like a backpack for the tour.
They do provide a little snack or energy bar for you in the morning, because you have a later lunch (around 2:00), but if you're like me and get hungry every 2-3 hours, you might want to bring an extra little snack! Some trail mix or my personal fave, Lara bars!
The tour lasts from about 9am-4pm. So you need to dedicate a full day to do this tour.
What does it Cost?
About $150 per person, this includes your transportation to and from the wine region, two wine tastings, an olive oil tasting, lunch and equipment (bike and helmet). I thought it was well worth the cost!
The scenery was so beautiful, and it was the perfect balance of exertion and relaxtion. If you decide to do the tour again our guide explained they try to take people on different routes and different wineries, so it would be really cool to experience other wineries too!
This would be a really fun experience to do as a family or if you're planning a girls trip or Bachelorette weekend!
I thought the tour was very well planned. You bike the full distance in the first half of the day so then you can just relax, taste and enjoy the wine!
If we went back to Santa Barbara I would try staying one night in Los Olivos to enjoy even more of the town and tasting rooms.
I love experiences that are sort of "off the beaten path" and small tours are always my thing, so this was the perfect combination of both.
Have you ever been to Santa Ynez Valley in California? Do you want to go now?!
* This is not a sponsored post and I did not receive any compensation or freebies for writing this post. I personally just loved the experience with this group and wanted to share it.*
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