(SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif.) — When it comes to a day spent wine tasting with friends or family, there is no more difficult and unsung job than being a group’s designated driver. Often the individual who “volunteers” for the gig comes down to drawing straws. But there is a better way.
In the Santa Ynez Valley — home to more than 100 wineries spread across its six distinct communities — wine tours are experiencing a resurgence in popularity as a way to enjoy the wineries that have made this fertile region a true wine country gem. For good reason, too.
“Wine tours are much more than a safe, friendly ride to and from a given winery or wineries, which is enticing enough,” said Shelby Sim, CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “Wine tour operators greatly enhance the wine-tasting experience by offering in-depth knowledge of the wineries and an insider’s knowledge of what wineries best suit particular tastes. We hear it from our visitors regularly: The service wine tour operators offer is invaluable.”
It’s true. Wine tour operators are not only drivers who shepherd imbibers from tasting room to tasting room, often in luxury vehicles. Many are experts in the Santa Ynez Valley wine industry, who know intimately the wineries, winemakers, and varietals that suit most any palate. Not to mention they are also quick to offer recommendations for everything from restaurants and bars, to spas and hiking trails.
“It’s not just about wine, it’s also about the experience,” said Bill Henderson, owner and operator of Compass Wine Tours, which is based in Solvang. “The best wine tour host is just that — a host. They know the wines and winemakers, and have vetted them for their clients in advance.
“Wine tours appeal to a wide variety of people, too,” Henderson added. “There are couples, families, and parties who are just learning about wine and looking for a beautiful place to spend the day. Others know a bit more and would like to dig deeper. Having an educated, connected wine tour host can create the perfect day for each situation.”
Visitors have plenty of choices, too. Breakaway Tours & Event Planning, Classic Wine Tours of Santa Barbara, Grapeline Wine Tours, Los Olivos Limousine & Wine Tours, Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours, and Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours are among the wine tour operators in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley is simple at visitsyv.com, where visitors can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, create custom travel itineraries, and even book their own customized wine tours.
About the Santa Ynez Valley:
Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley feels worlds apart from both. With six distinct communities encompassing everything from classic California wine country to Northern European traditions to the very best of the Old West, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to endless possibilities. Here in and around the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang visitors will find more than 100 wineries, incredible food, special events and a unique, rich heritage. For more information, including a complete listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and events, go to VisitSYV.com.