Our starting point for this fabulous wine tour of Santa Ynez wineries is the town of Los Olivos. Take Highway 154 to the right for about five miles. Turn right on to Highway 246/Mission Drive. The Gainey entrance will be on your right in 1.3 miles. Gainey is the first of several Santa Ynez wineries to visit on this wine route. Pack a lunch, all of these wineries have outstanding picnic areas.
Our Favorite Wineries to Visit on This Wine Trail
• Gainey Vineyards– beautiful setting, twenty-minute wine tour
• Sunstone Winery – best picnic spot, Provencal setting
• Kalyra Winery – a touch of Australia in wine production
• Rideau Vineyard – historic tasting room, Creole touch, the gardens
• Rusack Vineyards – another great picnic spot, terrific Syrah
Dining and Lodging Recommendations
The Gainey Vineyards is a gorgeous spot on this tour. It’s a tough choice between Sunstone and Gainey for the best picnic choice. The Gainey picnic area is extensive, with a great view of the surrounding mountains. In 1962 the Gainey family acquired 600 acres of land, and today 85 acres are vineyards. The tasting room is Spanish style and busy with wine tasting activities. Check the Gainey Website for tasting options.
The vast picnic area is also used for summer concerts, attracting many well-known musicians and musical groups. To get to Gainey, head back on Refugio Road for about one mile. Turn right on Highway 246 and travel approximately 1.75 miles. Gainey will be on the right coming from this direction.
Are you in Santa Barbara or France? The winery, tasting room, courtyard, and gardens resemble the Provencal countryside. The setting is beautiful and serene. The focus at Sunstone is on reds, producing several excellent and superb wines. All the vineyards on the Sunstone estate are 100 % certified organic vines. Sunstone is also a fantastic choice to have your picnic lunch and the perfect escape spot. To get to Sunstone from Gainey, head back on Mission Dr for 1.2 miles and take a right on N. Refugio Road. Watch for the entrance.
Australian-born winemaker Mike Brown is the owner and winemaker of this Santa Barbara winery, which is a bit out of character from the other Santa Barbara wineries. The unusual name of Kalyra is an aborigine term that means“ a wild and pleasant place.” The winery also produces several exciting and delicious dessert wines. Kalyra is off Refugio Road just a short distance from Sunstone. The Kalyra winery is featured in the cult wine movie Sideways.
A long and attractive entranceway of English gardens and lawns leads to the Rideau tasting room. The tasting room alone is reason enough to visit this charming winery. The tasting room is a refurbished country landmark known as the Alamo Pintado Adobe. Originally built in 1884, it now has the look and feel of New Orleans. That is due to the Creole background of the owner Iris Rideau who purchased this property in 1989. The winery specializes in Rhone varietal wines. Rideau is 3 miles from Kalyra. Head north on N. Refugio Road for 1.5 miles. Take a left on Baseline Avenue for one mile, take a left on Alamo Pintado Road. The winery will be on your right.
This winery is just a little out of the way from the rest of the wineries on the Santa Ynez Wine Trail, but try not to miss this beautiful spot. The backroads to the winery are spectacular! This area is the Ballard Canyon AVA and is only one of two tasting rooms open in Ballard Canyon AVA. At Rusack, we love the entire lineup of the wines from whites to reds, especially the Syrah. Bring a picnic lunch and dine on the deck and take in the awe-inspiring views of the vineyards. Rusack is one of our favorite picnic spots in all wine country. To get there from Rideau, head south on Alamo Pintado Road for 2 miles and turn right onto Viborg. Take a left onto Squire Lane, continue on Fredensborg Road and then a right onto Chalk Hill. To get there from Gainey, take a left on Mission Drive and continue for 4.5 miles. In Solvang, take a right on Atterdag Road that becomes Chalk Hill and then Ballard Canyon Road. Take Ballard Canyon for about 2 miles. You can head back to the town of Los Olivos by turning left out of the winery. Continue straight along Ballard Canyon Road.