The best ways to go wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley without breaking the bank or having to drive yourself.
California’s vineyards offer some of the most iconic sights in the entire country. Those of us here in Santa Barbara are lucky enough to live right next to the dozens of vineyards and wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. Now, if you haven’t gone into the valley yet, there are many great, all-inclusive wine tours leaving from Santa Barbara. Whether you’re looking to go to a specific area or visit sustainable vineyards, there is a tour that will fit your interests.
However, if you’ve done the “grand” tour before and are just looking to get out for the day without paying $100 or having to drive yourself, here are some options to mix and match to create your own wine tasting trail.
If you don’t want to worry about having a car in Santa Ynez, the Clean Air Express Bus is THE best deal you will find. Every Saturday, it takes one trip from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos (stopping in Solvang and Buellton on the way) and only costs $14 roundtrip. The bus picks up at four locations in Santa Barbara beginning at 10:25am and gets you back to town by 5:20pm at the last drop off.
Another inexpensive option for getting to SY Valley is to hire Wine Tasting DD to be your neighborhood friendly designated driver. They are located in Santa Ynez, but do pickups anywhere in Santa Barbara. Their rates are cheaper than most since you’re in your own car ($35/hr, no minimum time requirement).
If you’re looking to save even more on this option, consider driving up to Santa Ynez yourself and using Wine Tasting DD just to take you around the vineyards. After tasting, you can grab dinner or go sightseeing until you’re able to drive back.
Once you're in the valley, SYVT is perfect for visiting the urban tasting rooms and wine bars. The local bus system travels all around Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang. Buses pick up at each stop roughly every hour or so from 7:00 a.m. to 6:55 p.m Mon-Sat (special service on Sun). Fare is $1.50. The bus schedule is also plugged into google maps so you can plan your route as you go.
The Santa Barbara area now has an Uber service specifically for touring around wine country. It’s available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Depending on the size of your group, you can request a WINE (4 people) or a WINE XL (6 people) for an extra charge. The driver will stay with you the whole time, so you can leave you things in the car. Rides generally cost about $35 - $45 per hour, but there is no limit on time or distance, just a minimum fare of $10.
There are a number of wine taxis and local tour services that will also take you around the valley. Some are more tour-like, while others just provide the ride. Here are some of the most popular, inexpensive taxi services and how they compare:
The Catch California Team
Posted by: Christine Quigley