Santa Barbara is renowned for pinot noir and chardonnay. The area and in particular the Santa Rita Hills owes those tasty results to an east-west mountain valley passage that runs from the vineyards to the ocean and extends the growing season.
1. TASTE Sanford Winery gets the full benefit of Santa Rita Hill’s remarkable growing conditions and boasts the area’s oldest pinot noir vineyard. The winery’s design is as much of a sensory experience as the vino is. The tasting room is largely built from recycled materials, while the winery was built with 15,000 handmade adobe bricks and dubbed a top example of winery architectural design by Wine & Spirits Magazine. Go big and reserve at least an hour to do the vertical tasting experience that includes a guided tour highlighting five vintages of Sanford’s estate-grown pinot noirs, plus tips on how to store and age your own wines. Starting at $60 per person. 800.426.9463, sanfordwinery.com
2. EAT Located in a 19th-century citrus-packing house, San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse restaurant features an ocean-view deck for warm-weather dining and a crackling fireplace and cozy heated stone flooring for winter weather comfort. Chef Matthew Johnson prepares his seasonal cuisine with a selection of herbs and vegetables his team harvests from the on-site chef’s garden. Don’t leave without trying the San Ysidro Ranch signature mashed potatoes, a dish one Yelp reviewer calls “quite possibly the best I have had in my life.” 805.565.1724, sanysidroranch.com
3. STAY Tucked high in the hills of Santa Barbara, Belmond El Encanto offers views of the Pacific and original 1920s architecture. The resort’s newest package allows visitors to witness the famed monarch migration at the nearby Goleta Butterfly Grove. Accommodations, welcome cocktails and spa treatments inspired by the butterflies and a daily breakfast credit are a treat, but the real highlight is in the resort’s lobby, where world-famous artist Damien Hirst’s “Psalm print: Verba mea auribu” — a tribute to the hotel’s significant location along the butterflies’ migratory path, created on a silk screen with diamond dust — is on display. Package rates start at $570 per night. 805.845.5800, belmond.com