One of the best things about living in northern Santa Barbara wine country is that you always have a gorgeous spot to wine and dine! Most of the year, this means meals, snacks or picnics outdoors with vineyards in view, plus a glass or flight of wine. Santa Maria Valley boasts 34 tasting rooms within a 30-minute drive, right near Rice Ranch in Orcutt.
Rice Ranch homes are located right next to 580 acres of open space, on the edge of one of the most charming small towns in California! Living at Rice Ranch in Orcutt puts much of Santa Barbara County’s playground right in your backyard.
Riverbench on Foxen Canyon Wine Trail
Riverbench Vineyard & Winery was established in 1973 in the Santa Maria Valley when its first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted on the property. The area was on the bank of the Sisquoc River, known as the Santa Maria Bench. For many years, various renowned California wineries have purchased Riverbench fruit for their wines, and in 2006, Riverbench began a limited production of their own. Since then, they have built a reputation for outstanding Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wines.
Riverbench offers a tasting flight across Riverbench wine offerings, a sparkling flight, or a Pinot Noir flight. They also offer upscale picnic baskets to be enjoyed in the garden surrounding the restored Craftsman house that is the tasting room. Vineyard views are in every direction, and seating is on a sunny patio or under a shady tree or the large gazebo. You can also order chocolates to go with your bubbles! This is a gourmet picnic for sure.
Cottonwood Canyon between Foxen Canyon & Santa Maria
Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery is on the northern edge of Foxen Canyon, as you head toward Santa Maria and is also one of California’s original vineyards, founded in 1988. This is a small, boutique winery that specializes in hand-crafted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, and you may see founder Norman Beko tooling around the vineyard when there. Cottonwood Canyon also has underground wine caves where wine is aged in the perfect conditions for aging. This also makes a fun tour!
Cottonwood offers a stylish, comfy picnic with tasting flight, laid out for you overlooking the vines, or right in the rows of grapes in summer. This picnic is gorgeous, and super cozy, prefect for your social media shots! You can also an elevated tasting with owner/maker Norman Beko to better understand each wine, how glasses affect the flavors and custom food pairings.
Presqu’ile on Clark Avenue
Presqu’ile Vineyard & Winery was established in 2007, and is dedicated to crafting exceptional, cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah from Santa Barbara County. The name means “almost an island” in French (named after a property owning family lost to Hurricane Katrina). This is a beautiful, modern winery perfectly designed and situated to complement the natural landscape. The winery also uses state-of-the-art gravity flow, allowing wine to be moved around very gently during production, and with less intervention.
Tasting at Presqu’ile has various options. The Food and Wine Experience includes a tasting flight of estate wines paired with a delicious Mezze Picnic of various family-style small plates. The picnic features local ingredients and vendors, and seasonal produce from their 1-acre estate garden. You can also book a winery tour plus tasting, a horseback tour, or wine and bocce for larger groups. Members can also order food and wine à la carte.
Presqu’ile is certainly an island-like haven amid the vines!