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Overview

This coastal wine region mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco is one of the newest and fastest-growing AVA's in California. Clasped between the San Raphael Mountains and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the broad and breathtakingly beautiful Santa Ynez valley is frequently swept by fogs, producing a microclimate that combines with a long growing season and unique soils to produce distinctive varietal wines. The valley boasts more than three dozen wineries, and many are open to visitors; most have picnic areas and some have delis. The wineries are relatively close together, making combining a selection easy. Be sure to visit the Valley ...

This coastal wine region mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco is one of the newest and fastest-growing AVA's in California. Clasped between the San Raphael Mountains and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the broad and breathtakingly beautiful Santa Ynez valley is frequently swept by fogs, producing a microclimate that combines with a long growing season and unique soils to produce distinctive varietal wines. The valley boasts more than three dozen wineries, and many are open to visitors; most have picnic areas and some have delis. The wineries are relatively close together, making combining a selection easy. Be sure to visit the Valley Historical Society Museum to learn about viticulture in the region since the 19th century, and Mission Santa Ynez, built in 1804. The valley is centered on the must-visit village of Solvang, where Danish architecture reflects the town's unique heritage. Don't miss the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, which traces the Danish culture. And if curiosity gets the better of you, you can pass by Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, off Hwy. 154, which passes several horse ranches that surround Lake Cachuma.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time of year is good, but late autumn offers the best combination of glorious weather and fall colors, and the harvest and crush adds to the thrill of a winery visit.