The city of Buellton does not in the beginning seem like an perfect place to grasp the allure of the Santa Ynez Valley, a rugged swath of Santa Barbara County which is house to one particular of California’s most intriguing wine locations. There are no rolling hills of grapevines, no lavish vineyards, no fancy accommodations. Buellton’s most noteworthy points of interest are a restaurant that has proudly served break up pea soup because 1924 and a roadside curiosity just outside the city limitations identified as OstrichLand United states of america, in which flocks of the springy-necked birds strut in an open area for travelers. The relaxation, to the untrained eye, is a strip of motels and gasoline stations.
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“Yet this is where by a lot of the true magic takes place,” Scott Sampler remarked just one solar-speckled afternoon. The video clip director turned winemaker was top me by means of Industrial Way, a cluster of warehouses off the primary drag that has for a long time been a hub of community wine production. Emblematic of the Santa Ynez Valley’s back again-street attraction, the district has in new years evolved into an unexpectedly prime location to spend a languid afternoon. There is a rollicking brewery, two tiny-batch liquor distilleries, a smattering of advert hoc tasting rooms, and one particular of the Valley’s most necessary dining establishments, Industrial Eats, exactly where eclectic smaller plates are served with relaxed nonchalance at communal tables.
Sampler ushered me into his winery, Central Coastline Group Project, a spartan room exactly where he will work by itself crafting Italian- and Rhône-impressed organic wine and blends that are featured at eating places like Horses, the movie star magnet in Los Angeles. His tastings are casual affairs, with appointments made above Instagram and wines of astonishing complexity served in a nook cluttered with esoteric art books and vintage vinyl. “It’s considerably from the bougie, supercurated wine-country detail, but that’s sort of the position,” he stated with a wry snicker even though pouring me preferences, new music blaring, as grapes from a the latest harvest fermented in vats a few feet absent. “What we have got heading on here is a genuine vibe.”
If you live two and a fifty percent hrs southeast in Los Angeles, as I do, it is this vibe that has made the Santa Ynez Valley the weekend retreat favored by people in search of the thrill of discovery as significantly as a scintillating Pinot Noir. Even though not accurately a secret—the region was the backdrop for the 2004 oenophile film Sideways—it has remained overshadowed by Napa and Sonoma, quietly maturing into a desired destination where by old-school kitsch and new-university sophistication braid into something singular. The moment hardscrabble cowboy region and continue to an epicenter of horse ranching, the region is composed of a variety of compact towns, just about every with a unique aptitude. Up the highway from Buellton is Solvang, settled by the Dutch in 1911, which appears like a scene from Hans Christian Andersen with its main street of windmills, gabled roofs, spires, and clock towers. Los Alamos, in the meantime, occupies a charming Outdated West strip so lovingly preserved that you would not be astonished if a midday duel broke out. Los Olivos, as soon as ideal regarded as the internet site of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, characteristics a walkable downtown of pastel Victorians. In excess of the study course of a few times used driving the winding roads among the these enclaves, bopping into stately vineyards and slipping into eating places for fantastic foods, I felt linked to something genuinely and distinctly Californian—as opposed to the California packaged for international use.
“You appear below and you just get promptly addicted—to the raw open up character, that soothing wine-state experience without the corporate veil now linked with Napa,” stated Kimberly Walker, whose adoration for the spot led her and two associates to obtain a ramshackle motel on a hill at the edge of Los Alamos practically 5 decades in the past and transform it into Skyview, a smooth hotel with 360-diploma views of the Valley’s oak-studded vistas. I holed up there for section of my keep prior to examining out her second, the two-calendar year-old Lodge Ynez, another chicly reimagined motel. Walker’s qualities have brought new panache to the region although having to pay tribute to its rugged frontier heritage. “The towns here are still spots the place every organization is owner-operated in the truest perception,” she advised me. “The owner is preparing your meals, the winemaker is pouring your wine, and anyone you meet up with has a intriguing story of how they finished up here.”