Photograph courtesy dellahuffphoto.blogspot.com
Before it became “the wine country,” the Santa Ynez Valley was simply “the country”—a haven of orchards, horses, and farms. They’re still here amid a growing culinary scene, and at Global Gardens in Los Olivos you can sample extra virgin oils that owner Theo Stephan presses from olives grown in Los Alamos. Drive along Alamo Pintado Road toward Solvang for u-pick blueberries, apple stands, and the organic peaches and pears at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard. West of Solvang in the Santa Rita Hills (a go-to appellation for pinot noir), the tasting room of pioneering vintner Richard Sanford’s Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards can be found in a shack edged by a prickly pear thicket. Decidedly less weathered, the Santa Ynez Inn breaks from the town’s western look, delivering wine country romance without fuss in elegant Victorian rooms. Two blocks away, settle in on the porch at Trattoria Grappolo for rustic Italian cuisine that incorporates ingredients from local farms and for a big selection of county wines.