Santa Barbara Wine Country
While San Francisco can call Napa and Sonoma theirs, Santa Barbara definitively is LA’s prize wine region. The wine country of Santa Barbara (which includes the wine regions of Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Happy Canyon, and Los Olivos District), is unique because it is home to the only transverse mountain range in North America. This means that the mountains travel east-west, instead of north-south, and the sea air floats in from the coast, across the region, getting one degree warmer each mile further east -- which leads to unique flavors in the grapes. While the town of Los Olivos is most well-known, we recommend heading to the kitschy Danish-inspired town of Solvang. If you do not want an abelskiver for breakfast, hit Ellen’s Danish Pancake House in Buellton for a hearty meal as you continue 20 minutes west to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, home to 18 tasting rooms. The setting is not ultra romantic but the selection of wines is top-notch; as you head back to Solvang at the end of the day, stop in Buellton at Ascendant Spirits, the first legal distillery in Santa Barbara County since Prohibition. Enjoy a tipple of bourbon or vodka and then head around the corner for a bit to eat at Industrial Eats.