It’s true that Santa Barbara is a bonafide wine destination… from wineries to wine bars to restaurants with killer wine lists, it would be a shame to be here and not like wine. Insert sad face here! Good thing you love wine! By now you’ve heard about the cool wine area close to the beach called The Funk Zone, but have you heard about the newest wine destination right in the heart of downtown? Clustered within Santa Barbara’s El Paseo complex in the Presidio Neighborhood are several wine tasting rooms, now part of what is officially known as the Wine Collection of El Paseo.
The Spanish style streets of El Paseo, Santa Barbara
The Spanish Colonial Revival style and charm of this historic downtown location combined with an array of SBC wine producers certainly make the Wine Collection of El Paseo a destination worth noting. The Funk Zone has a younger, more hip vibe, and the Wine Collection has a more quiet, refined one... but it’s more eclectic than stuffy. The spot seems to attract lots of couples popping in for tastings before dinner as well as tourists looking to take home a few cases of wine. Good wine, for that matter!
There are six tasting rooms located in this complex of courtyards and side streets, each with their own personality to showcase different styles of wine from Santa Barbara County’s AVAs. Margerum Wine Co. produces white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, as well as reds like Grenache and Syrah. Close by, you can find more of Margerum’s reserve wines in its MWC32 tasting room. Right next door, Happy Canyon Vineyard produces Bordeaux blends from the Happy Canyon AVA, which you can try in their polo-inspired tasting room. Decorated tastefully with equestrian gear, it’s the family’s way of paying homage to the two regulation-sized polo fields at their winery. Pretty cool!
The outside of Jamie Slone Wines
Down the way, Jamie Slone Wines showcases Bordeaux, Rhône and Italian style blends, sourcing grapes from a variety of AVAs throughout Santa Barbara. Jamie and his wife, Kym, can often be found pouring the wines themselves in their tasting room (accompanied by their cute dog, Sophie). Fun fact - Doug Margerum is the head winemaker for all four of these labels!
Wines poured at the Au Bon Climat tasting room
Around the corner, family-owned Grassini Vineyards features Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet from their Happy Canyon ranch, and Au Bon Climat has plenty of sought after current and library Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez AVAs.
Tasty wine hidden amongst beautiful courtyards and tiny alleyways right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara? You can’t go wrong. Plus, if you get hungry in between all those tastings, there are several great restaurants in and around El Paseo and the Presidio Neighborhood… it really is a one-stop shop! Cheers.
To learn more about Santa Barbara, check out these posts:
The Hottest California Region Right Now: A Guide To Santa Barbara's AVAs
Travel Like A Wine Pro: A Weekend In Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Wine County, the Anti-Napa
Where To Drink Wine In Santa Barbara's Funk Zone
About the Author
Hana-Lee Sedgwick is the author and photographer of the blog, Wander & Wine, where she documents her wine, food and travel adventures. A certified sommelier, wine columnist and consultant, she loves to help people learn about and appreciate the world of wine. She currently lives in her hometown of Santa Barbara with her fiancé and two dogs.