The Santa Ynez Valley plays host to a handful of boutique wineries that envelope the senses with a single visit. One such location that we visit frequently when sojourning through the California wine country is Sunstone Vineyards & Winery conveniently located just a half hour north of Santa Barbara. The name derived from the way sunlight graces the stones and limestone found on the property, Sunstone Winery & Vineyards stands proud beside its neighboring wineries just minutes away. With its property situated on the fringe of the Santa Ynez RIver, the expansive wine estate’s alluring atmosphere and a family of wine growers dedicated to providing a worthwhile experience, this exclusive wine estate is well worth the drive and well worth staying a while once you arrive.
For the second year in a row, Sunstone Winery & Vineyards has sponsored the popular Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which we have enjoyed on more than one occasion and highly recommend if you haven’t experienced it thus far. From the winery’s Merlot and Cabernet to its Cabernet Franc and the Syrah and Viognier, there’s something to suit everyone’s palate at Sunstone. The first initial planting of 28 acres of wine grapes cmmenced in 1990. Since then, the estate has flourished, and become what it is today…a prominent must-visit boutique winery with expansive vineyards on an estate fit for even the most discriminating guests.
As one of the first certified organic vineyards in Santa Barbara County, the owners and staff at Sunstone are proud of their C.C.O.F. (California Certified Organic Farmers) designation. The property is also run with an environmentally friendly concept in mind with recycling, re-using, and conservation high on the list of Sunstone’s priorities. And by avoiding the use of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fungicides, the vineyards and grapes that make Sunstone wine becomes something to look forward to enjoying knowing that the end result not only tastes extraordinary, but is also good for us as well.
The main entry to the Sunstone Tasting Room is upscale rustic, yet embraces guests with the aromas of blooming lavender and prominent rosemary plants when entering into the courtyard touched by the beauty of an intimate setting under a sunny California sky. On our most recent visit, our wine specialist explained that the aftermath and rebuilding of a horse barn damaged by a fallen tree during a storm became the Sunstone Tasting Room that it is today. It’s odd how things work out, because the tasting room is quite a sight that is held dear by the owners and visitors alike. The courtyard offers a spacious area for enjoying a bottle of Sunstone wine over a lingering lunch right outside the tasting room. A short walk to the front door, and it’s time to indulge in tasting what this estate is so proud of producing. Friendly wine specialists behind an elongated wine bar graciously pour tastes of their vintages for those awaiting the flavors of perfection. Two stone barrel-aging rooms allow for a 5,000 square-foot capacity for the wines to age peacefully while onlookers explore the space as they sip wine and snack on cheeses and other delicacies as they carry on conversations with one another.
The Villa at Sunstone offers overnight accommodations for those guests looking for a more lengthy visit on the fifty-five acre estate. This old world architectural gem with Tuscan influences was the former home to the Sunstone founders, but was turned into a guest residence for visitors supplying 8,500 square feet of luxurious space to enjoy. Multiple suites with private baths and sweeping vistas of the vineyards and Santa Ynez Mountains prove majestic, while special packages offer private wine tastings and other intriguing reasons to lodge at this location during your wine experience.
Whether visiting for the day, or arriving for an elongated wine adventure while staying at the Villa at Sunstone, you are sure to experience a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable stopover. Don’t miss out on the variety of events from summer concerts and gourmet winemaker dinners to wine release parties and traditional grape stomping get-togethers, as well as getting to know the benefits of joining Club Sunstone!
ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The atmosphere at Sunstone Winery & Vineyards is unforgettable. From the moment you arrive, rustic touches grace the property, while wafting scents of rosemary and lavender cast their spell on visiting guests. Romantic picnic areas are situated beneath shade trees in the courtyard of the tasting room, and everywhere one looks, a feel of Provincial France graces the property from the stones used to build the structures to the rolling vineyards for acres and acres to the plentiful trees casting shadows on the lawn to the overall look and feel of the entire property.
- FOOD / DRINK: It goes without saying that when you’re at Sunstone, you’ll be enjoying several wine indulgences, but some packages also offer cheese board provisions as well more in-depth dinners upon reservation.
- LOCATION: Sunstone Winery & Vineyards is located at 125 North Refugio Road in Santa Ynez, CA 93460.
- HOURS: The Sunstone tasting room is open daily from 11:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: The staff at Sunstone is courteous, always happy to see visitors stopping in, and well-educated about the estate’s provisions, wines, and the area in general.
- PRICE / VALUE: Sunstone wines are priced at an acceptable range based on the quality of the wines provided.
- CORKAGE FEE: Outside wines are not allowed, however purchasing bottles from the tasting room and enjoying them on site is acceptable.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (805) 688-9463 / (800) 313-9463, Website: www.sunstonewinery.com
- PARKING: There is no charge for parking at Sunstone Winery & Vineyards. Ample space is available when arriving at the tasting room beneath the cover of several shade trees.
- PRICING: Depending on what your plans are for your visit to Sunstone Winery & Vineyards, so does the pricing. Wine tastings are $12 per person to experience a flight of six wines of your choice on the available menu each day, while private tastings providing 15% off of select purchases, a one-on-one wine tasting with one of the Sunstone wine specialists for $25 per person, and $39 per person to add an Al Fresco Picnic to the tasting that provides gourmet cheeses, cured meats, olives, crackers and either infused olive oil or balsamic vinegar. Tours of the Villa are given for $50 a person and offer a villa tour, wine and cheese pairings, and limited barrel tastings. Please check the Sunstone website for dates and availability.
* Menu, prices and dates subject to change without notice.