5 Ways to Experience Harvest Season in Santa Barbara

Fall is the most exciting time of year to visit Santa Barbara’s wine country. Harvest is in full swing, and vineyards and production facilities are all abuzz with activity. When the timing and conditions are just right, grapes get picked and brought in to start the process of crushing, pressing, and fermenting. For wine tasters, the season comes with the added benefit of near perfect weather—mild, warm sunny days and crisp, cool evenings. The foliage in the vineyards turns from lush green to gorgeous hues of gold, orange, and fiery red. And local farms sell pumpkins, squash, and other autumnal delights. Our hotels make great bases for wine touring and tasting in the Santa Ynez, Lompoc, and Santa Maria Valleys, where the grapes are grown and more than 100 tasting rooms are open to visitors. You can also taste at urban wineries located just blocks away from our beach properties. Following are five unique ways to experience the spirit of harvest season firsthand this fall.

#1:  Listen to Live Music:  Several wineries enhance the tasting experience with a live entertainment pairing. In the Funk Zone, Pali Wine Company hosts bands every Friday evening. McClain Cellars hosts regular live music nights at their new Solvang tasting lounge. Carhartt Family Wines hosts Friday Night Music sessions in their rustic chic cabin in Los Olivos. Brick Barn Wine Estate hosts Wine Down Wednesday evenings featuring local musicians as well as live music under the oaks on Sunday afternoons. Zaca Mesa Winery also hosts live music Sunday afternoons.

#2:  Plan a DIY Los Olivos Tasting Stroll:  The Los Olivos Promenade is home to a big concentration of more than 20 fantastic wine tasting rooms in a very charming, walkable four-block village with old-timey atmosphere. You can easily spend a whole day or afternoon wine tasting, shopping the boutiques, and sampling the many delicious eateries including Nella, Bar Le Cote, Los Olivos Café, and Panino.

#3:  Arrange Private Vineyard Tastings:  Several wineries don’t have public tasting rooms and instead offer by-appointment-only tastings, which are generally private or entail a lot of social distance between parties. These highly memorable experiences can include walks through the vineyards, meeting the winemakers, and tours of the production facilities. Some of our favorites include Demetria Estate, Crown Point Vineyards, Pence Vineyards & Winery, and Happy Canyon Vineyard’s Estate.

#4:  Learn to Taste Like a Pro:  Dana V. Wines in Solvang offers an educational series hosted by Crush It Wine Education. The entertaining and interactive one-hour classes are held Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. and are ideal for those newer to the world of wine. You’ll learn the nuances of tasting and the basics of wine making as you go through a flight of Dana V. Wines.

#5:  Book the Wine Lovers’ Package:  All four Santa Barbara Hotel Group properties offer our Wine Lovers Package, which will give you the perfect foundation for a wine-centric getaway. In addition to your accommodation, the package includes a guided, personalized tour designed by Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours. Your guide will pick you up at the hotel and drive you to wine country for a day amidst rolling vineyards and stately oaks. The tour will include stops at three wineries influenced by your preferences, as well as a gourmet picnic lunch. In addition to the tour, you’ll receive your choice of a bottle of Santa Barbara Winery red or white wine in souvenir wine jute tote upon check in. Cheers!