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Santa Barbara: Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail

Discover boutique wineries snugged between horse ranches and classic cowboy towns

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The eight wineries on this low-key wine trail, looping through rolling hills dotted with live oaks and fruit orchards, benefits from the region’s legendary marine effect—hot sunny days slide into cool nights, thanks to the nearness of the Pacific Ocean. This one-two meteorological punch creates deliciously balanced wines, most notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vintages. Keep your eyes peeled as you drive; some of the region’s wineries that aren’t on the designated wine trail aren’t always open to visitors, so if you do see a sawhorse on a sign that says “Open,” pull into the drive. You might be there on one of the few days when the tasting room is pouring. Leave time to visit the elegant La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, protecting the 11th and arguably best preserved of California’s 21 original Spanish missions.

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