A wine tasting alternative near Los Angeles
On my most recent trip to LA, I was introduced to wine tasting (more like a wine marathon) in Los Olivos. Los Olivos is less than a two hour drive from the northwest side of LA County, which makes it an easily accessible day trip. You'll pass through Santa Barbara and have the option of taking a mountain or ocean view route. The mountain route is faster, but can be daunting to drive through since the roads are extremely steep. You can catch views of the Pacific if you take this route as well though. Continue reading for five different vineyards to visit, and tips on wine tasting!
Los Olivos Grocery
The trick to wine tasting is pacing yourself, but also eating! Stop by Los Olivos Grocery before you head to the wineries and stock up on deli items, pre-made dishes, and snacks. The wineries have tables you can picnic outside! Produce and other products are locally grown or made, and the store features a lot of gourmet options as well as basics.
Los Olivos Grocery // 2621 Hwy 154, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
Andrew Murray Vineyards
Andrew Murray Vineyards is a must on your Los Olivos wine tasting tour. It features Rhône-style wines, and the vineyard has two different tasting rooms available, but if you want to enjoy the outdoors, opt for sitting at the picnic tables outside. Cornhole and ladderball are available to play too! Pick a bottle of the rosé so you can "rosé all day." Depending on how large your group is, it'll make more sense to purchase bottles rather than flights. If you have the time, take a tour of the vineyard to understand its history and wines. Tours are $20 and include Andrew Murray's featured flight.
Andrew Murray Vineyards // 5249 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Beckmen Vineyards boasts two separate vineyards with different soils and climates, one on the western side of Ballard Canyon and the other located in a valley south of Los Olivos. The vineyard specializes in Rhône-style vines like Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Mourvedre, and Counoise. Opt for a tour and discover what makes Beckmen's grapes biodynamic. The tour with a flight is $25 or $5 for just the tour.
Beckman Vineyards // 2670 Ontiveros Road, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Dreamcôte Wine Co.
Dreamcôte Wine Co. is a wine and hard apple cider collaboration. It's unpretentious and boasts an 800 square feet tasting room. The wines and ciders here are fruity in taste. Grab a bottle (or two or three). If you're interested in graphic design and branding, you'll love the bottle designs. 5% of the gross profits from each bottle sold is also donated to a number of select charities. You can even make a recommendation.
Dreamcôte Wine Co. // 2933 San Marcos Avenue #107, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Martian Ranch & Vineyard
Although Martian Ranch & Vineyard is further out than any of the wineries on this list, it's worth the trip. Employees are incredibly knowledgeable about their wines, and didn't give us too hard of a time for not making a reservation (oops!). They also made sure we had a designated driver, which seems like a pain, but is so important! Don't forget your DD! Like Andrew Murray Vineyards, this winery has an outdoor game area with horseshoes. They had spill-proof wine glasses too!
Martian Ranch & Vineyard // 9110 Alisos Canyon Road, Los Alamos, CA 93440
The anticipation leading up to our windy drive to Rusack was rewarded when I saw the sprawling acres of vines and the hills of Ballard Canyon in the distance. The tables set up outside offer a perfect view. Pick out a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir and relax. If you'd like to do a tasting instead, it's $15 and includes a crystal logo glass to take home. Cheese and crackers are available for purchase if you get hungry too.
Rusack // 819 Ballard Canyon Road, Solvang, California 93463
- Determine a designated driver
- Make reservations (or don't...)
- Rent a sprinter van if you're with a large group
- Stock up on food at Los Olivos Grocery before you get your drink on
- Buy bottles instead of flights to save on tasting fees
- Stop in Santa Barbara on your way back for dinner