Destination Santa Barbara For Celebration of Harvest Weekend
The city of Santa Barbara is nationally recognized for its stunning beaches, upscale lifestyle, weekend getaways and, in October, the annual Celebration of Harvest Weekend. For the festival, the wine region of Santa Barbara will offer Southern California sippers a dash of sophistication, loads of noteworthy wineries, a smidgen of beach life and a bit of Danish charm. This year the weekend affair will be held in the Danish-inspired village of Solvang on October 11 to 13. Sure, you can reside in the lovely city of Santa Barbara during your weekend harvest getaway, but why not spend it nestled amongst serene vineyards and small towns.
The picturesque little town of Solvang is so perfectly constructed as a Danish settlement that you might find yourself reaching for your passport. The walkable Danish Village offers guest a quaint downtown filled with international cuisine, charming tasting rooms and cobblestone roads. This year, the village will host the annual Celebration of Harvest Weekend, and the Old Mission in Santa Ines will showcase more than 100 vintners from the region, offering a Grand Tasting on Saturday and multiple vineyard-specific events to introduce local wineries. This is an event that shouldn’t be missed, so mark your calendar and clean your palate for the harvest.
The modern Hotel Corque may be a bit out of place in the midst of this quirky town, but it’s a stunning and well-intentioned destination for luxury-seeking travelers. The comfortably spacious rooms will enhance your wine country experience with their flavorful décor and peaceful surroundings. The boutique hotel also offers guests an assortment of dining choices: Root 246, the Willows and Creekside Buffet all hold enough appeal to win your praises more than once.
The Wine Valley Inn and Cottages play into Solvang’s architectural old-world spice, providing visitors with a true taste of Danish love while still giving your wallet a breather. Rates start at $150 during the festival weekend.
SANTA YNEZ VALLEY
Located in the northern Santa Barbara County (125 miles north of L.A.), the Santa Ynez Valley is home to six small towns nestled in the rolling hills of the valley. Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang mark the magical dell that hosts a majority of the area’s vineyards. Santa Ynez is by far the best-kept secret in this region, making it less scuffed by out-of-towners as nearby cities. Santa Ynez Inn will welcome guests with a bed and breakfast that provides class and understated luxury. Located in the heart of the village, the intimate 20-room establishment has open floor plans and a tub so spacious you could fit four of your favorite friends with room to spare. Victorian elegance is displayed in the courtyard dining room where the provided meals include a succulent daily breakfast. And don’t miss the evening offerings of hors d’oeuvres and flowing local Santa Barbara wines.
If you’re looking for classic luxury, stop by the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and Spa in the quaint town of Los Olivos. Adding a revitalizing element to your stay, the supreme spa will have you rejuvenated and enveloped in comfort with retreat offerings such as the Youth Revealing Facial or Hot Stone Therapy. Also in Los Olivos, the Side Hardware and Shoes (a Brother’s Restaurant) won the OpenTable 2014 Diners Choice Award and 2014 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for obvious mouthwatering reasons. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the popular dining hall often gets jam-packed with hungry people in the know, so it’s wise to make reservations. The eatery’s unique spin of simple specialty treats, such as chilled corn soup, the spicy Westie burger and Thai tea ice cream, keep patrons on their toes and eager for more.
Ballard Inn and Restaurant is a small luxury inn with an award-winning menu snuggled in the plush vineyards of Santa Barbara wine country in Ballard. It’s known for an intensely magnificent buffet breakfast complete with in-season fruits, homemade pastries and selections of flapjacks, scrambles and French toast — and that’s only the beginning.
WINERIES IN THE REGION
It’s quite possible that you’ll be sharing sips with Joey or Jennifer Tensley during your tasting venture, and their family-owned/operated Tensley Wines has a favorite wine. Syrah is their area of expertise, and the accelerated production of the flavorful vino has grown from 100 cases in 1998 to 3,300 in 2006.
Since 1994, Beckmen Vineyards has become one of the biggest hitters in the winegrowing game, particularly highlighting a sample of Rhone varietals that has been recognized as a premier wine in California. The 213-acre property is spotted with rolling hills and rowed grapes that will give guests a taste of the vineyards, not just a tasting room.
The Demetria Estate Winery, located in the beating soul of the Santa Ynez Valley in Los Olivos, is picnic-friendly while inviting mounds of tasters, as it is one of the most sought-after destinations for dining al fresco on winery grounds in Santa Barbara’s wine region. The cozy Brian Loring Winery in Lompoc is big in the wine-savoring department, hitting near perfect scores of 92 to 96 while harvesting some of the heartiest grapes out there. What’s most spectacular about this shining star is that the amazing quality of the wines doesn’t affect their value: the average bottle is $30.
With tons of wineries in the area, not all can boast an MVP tag, and the region’s honorable mentions are well worth a swivel and sip. The Sea Smoke Estate Vineyards are all about status: dropping the name and buying a $100 bottle of pinot noir will practically make you a part of the in-crowd. And the Foley Estates Vineyard and Winery is a family-owned winery in Lompoc that takes pride in world-class chardonnay and pinot noir. Another Lompoc gem is Melville Vineyards and Winery, whose Mediterranean terrain is perfect for a lovely picnic of crackers, cheese and wine. Owned by a French professor and a rock star (very cool!), Brewer-Clifton produces clearly honest wine, and it would be a crime if you didn’t dabble in the pinot noir dubbed the “Voice of the Vineyard.” Babcock Winery offers an open-space tasting room with an urbanely sophisticated feel that will have your spirits up long before the first pour. The most popular Babcock wine is the addictively delicious Syrah. Firestone Vineyard appeals to both veteran vino sippers and rookies alike, as the island bar and large windows feature a stunning view of the Santa Ynez Valley.
A “small town” city, Santa Barbara manages to blend elegance with beach life. The art-infused and culturally rich State Street is home to many shops, restaurants and bars. And every Saturday the farmers market takes over downtown, drawing in many local restaurant owners and chefs in search of perfect ingredients to create masterpiece menu items.
The oceanfront Bacara Resort and Spa is famed for embodying comfort, ease and natural Southern California splendor. Four restaurants and lounges sprinkle the hotel, most notably the award-winning Miro with its 12,000-bottle wine cellar and tasting room. Only steps from Santa Barbara’s historic State Street, the Canary is the area’s premier luxury boutique hotel, offering a culturally rich blend of modern décor and Spanish accents. And the Finch & Fork serves organic local veggies and fresh-caught fish in its lovely rooftop restaurant. The Simpson House Inn is beyond lavish. The 1874 Victorian estate rests on an acre of English gardens known as the “Santa Barbara Beautiful,” offering 15 extravagant suites and cottages. (If at all possible, get the cottage!) Its enchanting stone walkway with a 120-year-old English oak tree is just one of many delightful experiences.
Bouchon has remained popular since its opening in 1998, serving up an intimate setting with a killer menu. Favorite food items include spinach-stuffed lipstick peppers and the supreme cheese platters Humboldt Fog, Midnight Moon and Purple Haze. Fitting the Santa Barbara lifestyle, the quaint Italian eatery Seagrass specializes in coastal cuisine and fine dining. It also features Santa Barbara wine country libations and takes pride in serving organic and locally grown ingredients. You’ll find the Italian charm infectious, leading you to bellow “Grazie!” at the end of your meal. For an out of this world Bloody Mary that can rocket you into your day, check out Tupelo Junction Café, where you can also dabble in delectable breakfast treats. Another breakfast joint turning heads and filling bellies is locally known Stella Mare’s. Wine Cask offers a flawless mishmash of supreme culinary zests and soulful wines that will do a number on your eager palate. And join the intimate masses in the adjacent Margerum Wine Tasting Room, where you can sample some of the company’s reserves. You will be happy you did!
The Santa Barbara Harvest Festival will take place in Solvang from October 11–13. For more information, click here.