Ah, September, fall is in the air. Cozy sweaters and boots replace tired summer wardrobes. Football games replace beach days. And…ok who am I kidding? I live in Southern California. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Every year around this time I start to crave the crispness of autumn. I long for a place with seasons. That’s when I pack my bags and head north. Santa Barbara Wine Country makes the perfect weekend getaway any time of year, but every fall they bring in the season with the Celebration of Harvest Festival.This year it will be held October 10th-13th at the Rancho Sisquoc Winery in the Santa Maria Valley. Purchase the Vintner’s Visa, a four-day pass to 12 participating wineries that will offer discounts all weekend.
Santa Barbara Wine Country encompasses more than 50 miles and well over 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Sometimes referred to as “The New Napa,” I find it much more intimate, as in less buses filled with tourists. For first time visitors, plan to visit the big ones (Fess Parker, Firestone, Bridlewood), but make time to explore lesser known vineyards and small tasting rooms. If you have a large group, I highly recommend a limo tour, but for smaller parties (with a designated driver) it’s much better to enjoy the scenery from your own car. Winding roads lead the way through gorgeous countryside, unveiling vineyard after vineyard, wildflowers and grazing sheep. Pack a picnic and take a map as each turn will reveal a new discovery, like little hidden treasures along the way. Here, it’s always the journey, not the destination.
TIP: Share the wine tastings to save money and enjoy more wineries.