Some of California’s best wineries are located in urban Santa Barbara, just a two-hour drive or a leisurely five-hour Amtrak ride from Orange County.
You won’t find any vineyards to gaze on (most urban wineries have northern Santa Barbara County vineyards that also are open to visitors), but these unique city tasting rooms are easily accessible on foot or bike within downtown Santa Barbara, and offer eclectic experiences. Pinot noir and chardonnay are the region’s famed varietals, but many unusual wines are waiting to be discovered.
A majority of the 30 urban wineries are located in or adjacent to the beachside “Funk Zone,” including AVA Santa Barbara, Cottonwood Canyon, LaFond Winery, Oreana Winery, Pali Wine Co., Riverbench Winery, and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective (Tyler, Lieu Dit, Vallin, and Notary Public). A stroll away are several superb pinot noir producers including Au Bon Climat, Carr Winery, Sanford Winery, and Whitcraft Winery.
Conway Family Wines offers perhaps the most unusual tasting experience. The winery’s Deep Sea Tasting Room is located on Stearns Wharf over the Pacific Ocean, offering stunning views of the Channel Islands and the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Most tasting rooms are open daily but there are exceptions. Check for hours and special events, and obtain a wine-tasting map of the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail at Urban Wine Trail SB.