(SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif.) — With awards, recognition, and praise being showered onto the Santa Ynez Valley from the likes of Travel + Leisure, Forbes, and Wine Enthusiast in recent months, there’s no question that the region has firmly planted itself among the country’s — if not the world’s — most sought after destinations for wine lovers and travelers alike.
Yet despite the acclaim, the Santa Ynez Valley’s humble foundation has allowed it to retain, and in many cases double down on, the signature charm, authentic character, and laid back California Central Coast vibe upon which it has been built.
Now, with a host of new or expanded businesses and other visitor offerings, and with travel demand at or near an all-time high, the Santa Ynez Valley is eager to live up to the lofty expectations that have been set. Among the new and notable offerings: the rebirth of a historic lodging property, the silver anniversary of an iconic restaurant, a renovated and expanded outdoor live theater, the return of a defining signature event, and a unique agritourism endeavor await visitors.
“Just when I think things couldn’t possibly get any better here they somehow do, and it’s largely due to the tireless efforts, innovation, vision, and pride of the people who call the Santa Ynez Valley home,” says Shelby Sim, President & CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “I’m constantly amazed by my fellow community members who are not only trying to make a better life for themselves, but who are also creating experiences and offerings that enrich the lives of those who visit.”
Following is a list of recent awards and recognition, businesses that have opened their doors in the Santa Ynez Valley in recent months or plan to do so in the coming months, and other new or notable offerings:
RECENT AWARDS & ACCOLADES
Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places To Travel In 2022 — Travel + Leisure magazine’s annual list of the world’s best places to travel described the Santa Ynez Valley as, “Two hours from L.A…rural, unassuming, and coming into its own…the arrival of newer tasting rooms, restaurants, and hotels in recent years has firmly put the area on oenophiles’ and travelers’ radars.”
Forbes’ 22 Best Places To Travel In The U.S. In 2022 — In its roundup of bucket list U.S. travel destinations for 2022, Forbes described the Santa Ynez Valley as, “the buzzing wine region for 2022…best known for the Danish-themed village of Solvang, but there are plenty of other small towns connected by rural roads, sprawling farms, and vineyards.”
Wine Region Of The Year — The annual Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards recognized Santa Barbara County, inclusive of the Santa Ynez Valley, as their 2021 Wine Region of the Year. Announced in November 2021, the award is considered a Holy Grail in the industry, and touted the region’s, “Stunning diversity of microclimates, a thriving culinary scene,” and, “an appellation and grape variety for every palate, thanks to a unique geography of valleys that open directly onto the cold Pacific Ocean.”
A SIGNATURE EVENT RETURNS
Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley — After a two-year hiatus, one of the valley’s biggest annual events returns Nov. 3-6, 2022. Presented by Sunset Magazine, Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley is an immersive four-day food, wine, and experiential event held throughout the valley’s six wine country towns. Among the event’s many highlights include classes led by Sunset experts, cooking demonstrations, and the signature long table, multi-course wine dinners.
The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern — Opening soon, The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern – An Auberge Resort respects the history of this landmark destination while blending the simplicity of modern farmhouse design with the eclectic textures and patterns of nearby ranch life.
ForFriends Inn — New for 2022, this popular Santa Ynez bed & breakfast is expanding with the addition of ForFriends Village. Featuring six new 650 square foot California Craftsman “tiny inns,” ForFriends Village provides a new and unique lodging option in the valley for couples, groups, family reunions, and more. Each custom studio accommodates up to four people, and all units feature kitchenettes, premium finishes, whisper-quiet appliances, high-speed internet, private porches, and parking.
The Inn at Zaca Creek — Suite and private event guests at The Inn at Zaca Creek now have exclusive access to “The Falls,” the resort’s newest outdoor amenity that includes cascading waterfalls and a sparkling, cabana-ringed lagoon.
RESTAURANTS, DINING, & COFFEE
peasants DELI & MARKET — Michael and Sarah Cherney, owners of peasants FEAST, recently opened peasants DELI & MARKET as a companion eatery to the popular Solvang restaurant. peasants DELI & MARKET offers classic and not-so-classic deli sandwiches filled with thoughtfully sourced, artisanal cured and smoked meats, served on specially-commissioned sesame French rolls from Bob’s Well Bread.
Trattoria Grappolo — Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022, Trattoria Grappolo is proof that good things do last. In an age of restaurants defined by the latest, greatest, and most innovative concepts, Trattoria Grappolo’s classic Italian fare, unassuming decor, and humble atmosphere have been satisfying hungry Santa Ynez locals and visitors since 1997.
Ballard Inn & Restaurant — Recently under new ownership, the AAA Four-Diamond rated Ballard Inn is being revitalized to celebrate its Western roots and reflect its charm and appeal as a destination for romantic getaways, family reunions, or small business retreats. The Ballard Inn Restaurant recently welcomed new Executive Chef Nikolas Ramirez. Chef Ramirez most recently served as executive chef at Loquita Santa Barbara, and spent more than four years working as a chef in Thailand. A Santa Barbara City College graduate, Chef Ramirez’s menu is infused with dishes and flavors from his global travels to Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, France, Denmark, and more.
Crawford’s Steakhouse — Opened in March of 2021, Sear Steakhouse recently welcomed a new owner and chef Nathan Pietso. In addition to adding an extended late-night bar program, Pietso, a second-generation farmer, plans a forthcoming rebrand to Crawford’s Steakhouse in honor of his family name.
Lefty’s Coffee Co. — Recently opened in downtown Los Olivos, Lefty’s Coffee Co. is a coffee shop inspired by the ideals of peace, equality, acceptance, and respect for every human. Featuring specialty coffees from beans that are farm roasted in Santa Barbara County, plus specialty baked goods from Sandra Adu Zelli’s Crispy Hill Bakery, Lefty’s also boasts an expansive garden space for sipping, savoring, and private events.
The Baker’s Table — Due in large part to its popularity among locals and visitors, The Baker’s Table in Santa Ynez is preparing to relocate this summer to a newer, larger location in a historical Santa Ynez building that once housed the Santa Cota Market. Located at 3570 Sagunto Street, the new location will feature the same artisan bread, gourmet pastries, breakfast & lunch fare, and craft coffee & beverages for which it is known, with the addition of al fresco seating on a newly constructed outdoor patio.
WINERIES & TASTING ROOMS
Fess Parker Winery — Following an extensive overhaul, Fess Parker Winery reopened the doors to its renovated tasting room on April 2, with a more modern design that pays homage to the family’s roots and supports the winery’s more elevated tasting experiences. The winery’s indoor and outdoor spaces were reimagined and given a more contemporary experience for guests while incorporating the family’s unique history.
RUSACK Vineyards — In February 2022, RUSACK Vineyards – the only winery in the Ballard Canyon AVA that is open to visitors – debuted its newly remodeled tasting room. Dubbed ‘Canyon Terrace,’ RUSACK’s renovated tasting room pairs handcrafted wines with picturesque vineyard views and a relaxed atmosphere away from it all. Tastings are available by advance reservation only.
The Hideaway — The Hideaway will be moving to a new spot in Los Olivos in mid-May, as they exit the iconic “cabin” at one end of town and move down the street (aka closer to the flag pole) at 2933 Grand Ave., Suite F. The new upstairs space boasts a balcony overlooking town, and the interior vibe will be much more dynamic than its current historic feeling, with vibrant colors, eclectic furnishings, and a new lounge flair that will breathe new life into the space.
SPECIALTY, ACTIVITIES & OTHER
Dirt Shepherd Tours — Committed to raising awareness about the importance of sustainable agricultural practices, building an active local economy, and supporting small family farms, Dirt Shepherd Tours provides intimate and exclusive day tours connecting guests to farmers and vineyards practicing regenerative agriculture in the Santa Ynez Valley and along California’s Central Coast. Programs include food, wine, and farm tours, wine and food pairing experiences, kids farm tours, and more.
Solvang Festival Theater — One of the Santa Ynez Valley’s most iconic cultural facilities, the open-air Solvang Festival Theater is in the midst of a $4.7 million renovation project to upgrade the infrastructure, accessibility, and technical aspects of the theater. Scheduled for completion in July 2022, the renovated theater will provide an enhanced experience for patrons and performers alike.
Elder Flat Farm Store — Elder Flat Farm Store is a new downtown Los Alamos retail storefront from the owners of Elder Flat Farm. Offering produce, eggs, charcuterie, farm boxes, flowers, specialty and seasonal gifts, and more, much of which is sourced directly from Elder Flat Farm. Open Thursday through Sunday, Elder Flat Farm Store also holds classes ranging from cheese board styling to DIY flower arrangements.
Greenhouse — Greenhouse is a new lifestyle and wellness retail shop located behind Elder Flat Farm Store in Los Alamos. Open Thursday through Sunday, Greenhouse carries a variety of self-care items, gifts, clothes, hats, and more, with a focus on ethically made products. Tucked away upstairs, Greenhouse also invites people to relax for a soothing massage by Valley Be Well.
For more information on new or planned lodging, restaurant, winery, and other openings, or to research attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary, visit VisitSYV.com.
About the Santa Ynez Valley:
Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to six distinct towns each with its own culture, vibe, and menu of experiences. Blanketed with fruitful farms and vineyards, the California Central Coast wine region’s temperate weather allows for year-round activities of all sorts, spread throughout the historical communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang. Destination dining and world-class wines await, accompanied by lodging at every level, all painted into atmospheric backdrops that colorfully mesh Old World and Old West. Visit more than 100 wineries, feast on chef-driven cuisine, and enjoy festive events and design details from Victorian-era to mid-century to modern Danish. For more information, including a listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, and events, go to VisitSYV.com.