Day Tripping to Lompoc & Santa Barbara County for a Taste of Good Wine By Cori Solomon
t does not take much to entice my husband and me to drive up to the Central Coast to go wine tasting. Santa Barbara County has so many areas to visit, including Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, and Lompoc. The various appellations of Santa Barbara County open the door to many options for tasting wine and a day trip to the area. There are wineries at every turn in all these places. If you are a lover of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and cool climate Syrah along with other coolclimate varieties, visiting Lompoc is the place to go, especially to the industrial park that houses the Lompoc Wine Trail, formally known as the Wine Ghetto.
Our journey is uneventful as we leave Los Angeles, but once we hit Ventura, I thoroughly enjoy the drive. We are past the hustle of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Calmness sets in as we view the California coastline, but once we pass through the tunnel and start our ascent up to Buellton, we truly notice the diﬀerence. The landscape changes to pastures filled with oak trees, telling us we have arrived in Santa Barbara wine country. The Central Coast beckons us knowing we are destined to enjoy a good time.
Folded Hills Once we hit Santa Barbara, we know that we have a 45-minute drive to Buellton's exit and the 246, the highway that leads east to Solvang and west to Lompoc. If you crave wine before you reach Buellton, stop in Gaviota at Folded Hills, the winery owned by Andrew and Kim Busch. Just oﬀ the 101 freeway, the winery is known for its Rhone varietals. From their beer empire, they now have a Farmstead that grows various crops, including grapes. If you are
lucky, you can also see the Clydesdale horses, a camel, zebra, and donkey that live in harmony on the property. Wine Picks: Don't miss August White, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, and Roussanne. In Reds, I recommend Grant Grenache.
Wine Along the Highway 246 Back on the road for a few minutes, you will soon reach the exit of the 246 and will recognize many of the landmarks you saw in the movie Sideways. The film made Pinot Noir and the area famous. Heading west on the 246, you will pass several of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA vineyards and wineries, including Babcock, Foley, Dierberg, and Melville. Some of my favorites along the 246 are Dierberg and Melville. Both settings are ideal for a picnic, although with COVID, you need to check ahead of time for the specific rules.
Photos (From left): Red wine pour, Courtesy get stencil.com; Folded Hills tasting room with Kim Busch and Tymari; Dierberg Star Lane