For an overview of the region: The Margerum Wines tasting room, in the Santa Barbara Hotel, is one of the few places in town where you can really get an overview of the entire county, including all of the different AVAs. “You can taste from the east to the west. Every appellation in the Santa Ynez Valley is represented,” says Margerum.
Another option is the Santa Barbara Wine Collective, a tasting room that hosts wines from a number of different wineries. “It’s kind of a neat thing that you can go and taste a bunch of different wines in one place,” says Margerum, though he notes that, since different wineries have joined or left the collective over the years, the wines can vary in quality.
For wine with a meal: If you’d prefer to try local wines with dinner, head to Bouchon, a popular downtown restaurant that focuses on local ingredients. “The wine list is pretty much exclusively Santa Barbara wines,” says Margerum. “And they offer almost everything by the glass. They’re willing to just open anything by the glass, which is pretty amazing.”
Another good option is the Stonehouse at the San Ysidro Ranch resort, which has a Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine and a cellar of 12,000 bottles. While the restaurant offers wine from all across the globe, it also has a strong selection of local wines, including verticals (bottles of the same wine from many different years) of a number of sought-after wines.