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Los Olivos

Los Olivos

Explore a Santa Barbara County town where the Old West meets sophisticated wine country

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For anyone who remembers Los Olivos as a sleepy ranching town best known for having a flagpole in the middle of its main street, this Santa Barbara County community’s transformation into a major wine country destination has been positively astonishing.

With the rise of the Santa Ynez Valley into the top tier of California wine regions, Los Olivos largely left its rough-and-ready ways behind—although don’t be surprised to see trucks hauling hay and horse trailers passing through this town so small that there’s still no traffic light. If once considered a side-trip from Danish-style Solvang, about 10 minutes away, Los Olivos now is a draw in its own right, with nearly 30 tasting rooms in its compact downtown—and plenty more at wineries in the surrounding area.

Wine Tasting in Los Olivos

No matter your taste in varietal or preference in tasting room aesthetic, from rustic to contemporary, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Los Olivos. An early arrival on the valley wine scene back in 1987, the Los Olivos Tasting Room and Wine Shop is in a 19th-century general store building and specializes in hard-to-find Pinot Noirs from Central Coast wineries that don’t operate tasting rooms of their own. Try the estate-grown Syrahs and Grenaches at relaxed Saarloos and Sons, where you can also pair wines with the sweet treats from Enjoy Bagels + Sweets. And Epiphany Cellars has both a stylish indoor tasting room, as well as a gorgeous garden area, where you can sample its acclaimed Rhône varietals.

Just outside town, pack a picnic and reserve a gazebo overlooking the pond at Beckmen Vineyards. Or drive along the winding Foxen Canyon Wine Trail to visit such classic spots as Foxen Vineyard & Winery’s original tasting room. Dubbed “The Shack,” it’s housed in a former blacksmith shop built in the 1860s and is near Foxen’s larger tasting facility that’s built in a contemporary ranch style. Also on the trail, Andrew Murray Vineyards’ modern and soulful tasting room is notable for its plank wood design touches, as well as the winery’s celebrated Syrahs. Renovated in 2022, the expansive, family-owned Fess Parker Winery features a large patio where you can enjoy a laid-back 90-minute tasting, or go inside for a custom private tasting in the Barrel Room or Library Room.  

Restaurants in Los Olivos

Most destinations that specialize in premium wine also boast strong culinary offerings, and Los Olivos is no exception. Seafood-centric Bar Le Côte brings the bounty from the nearby coast to the wine and ranching country. (It earned honors as one of the country’s 50 best restaurants from Wine Enthusiast magazine.) In the luxurious Fess Parker Wine Country Inn, Nella Kitchen and Bar is known both for its southern Italian delicacies (don’t miss the meatballs) made from locally sourced ingredients and impeccably crafted artisan cocktails. And you can taste the valley’s ranching tradition as you bite into a succulent, oak-fired tri-tip sandwich at either the Los Olivos Grocery or the R-Country Market.

More Things to Do in Los Olivos

As you might suspect, Los Olivos means “The Olives” in Spanish and Olive Hill Farm offers tastings of oils made from handpicked, valley-grown olives. You’ll also find a host of locally made specialty foods, including honeys and olive oils, and an assortment of bath and body products at the Los Olivos General Store, located in a renovated garage. Just look for the old-fashioned gas pump out front.

You’ll find more than just olives and grapes here. Lavender lovers should definitely check out the purple haze that brightens the land at Clairmont Farms Lavender. If you’re looking for finishing touches for the garden, including fountains, succulents, and wind chimes, J. Woeste Home and Garden is the perfect spot to find inspiration.

For all the changes that have come to Los Olivos, the western ways certainly endure. In business since 1932, Jedlicka’s Western Wear is the place to pick up Wrangler jeans and a pair of Justin boots—whether you just want to play urban cowboy or plan to saddle up for a guided ride through the vineyards in nearby Santa Ynez with Vino Vaqueros. Also, blending the best of the old and new, the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern lets you stay in beautifully updated cottages at this onetime stagecoach stop built in 1886, and also has rooms in a newly constructed clapboard guesthouse that blends easily into the historic setting.

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