Named for the sun-washed land, the beautiful Sunstone Winery is certainly a place you should put on your winery bucket list. The winery is only 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara and has accolades that include “Santa Barbara’s Favorite Red Wine” and “Best Santa Ynez Valley Tasting Room!” With French lavender and rosemary in the inviting courtyards as you arrive, it offers an immaculate natural beauty complemented by rustic, provincial architecture that creates a relaxed and welcoming ambiance.
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Visiting the Sunstone Winery Tasting Room
The stunning Sunstone Winery features 28 acres of vineyards that were planted in 1990. They’ve given rise to spectacular, completely organic, and sustainable varietals of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier that create some of the most delightful wines.
Wine Tasting Offerings
As General Manager Dave Moser has said, the goal here is to “capture the true essence of this special vineyard in your glass.” As such, you can find plenty of ways to enjoy your time at Sunstone Winery. The tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5pm with a last seating at 4pm.
Of course, there are private tasting experiences that you can reserve for groups of 6 or more guests that will give you more a more personal and private setting. Each is led by a wine specialist to guide you through the tasting in exceptional detail. There’s the Signature Private Tasting that presents personalized menus held in a reserved semi-private portion of the estate. The Reserve Private Tasting is similar though offers Reserve and Estate wines for sampling.
For something a little bit more extraordinary, you can choose Linda’s Library Experience. Within Linda’s Library, this intimate setting surrounds you with Library wines and samplings from some amazing vintages of the estate. Along with a personalized menu, it’s a beautiful way to learn about Linda Rice who helped found this winery and honor her memory since her passing in 2010.
The Villa Experience is considered the ultimate wine tasting experience at Sunstone Winery. It feels like heading to the Old World in Europe with seating inside the villa or at the center courtyard, depending on the weather. The tasting includes 7 wines with library wine selections plus a gourmet charcuterie platter.
What to Know Before You Go
Planning on being in the area? You don’t need reservations to visit Sunstone Winery, but they are strongly encouraged. During peak visitation days like weekends, you’ll get faster service if you’d made a reservation. Sunstone Winery is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.
There is food offered with certain wine tasting experiences though you may feel free to bring your own. No outside alcohol is permitted and as such, the winery reserves the right to inspect your bags, coolers, and picnic baskets. You can bring children too, though you must keep them supervised by an adult at all times.
Other Wineries Nearby
You can bundle your visit to Sunstone Winery with other nearby wineries. Brander Vineyard has a tasting room in a pink castle and specializes in a Sauvignon Blanc you simply must taste. Buttonwood Farm Winery offers a gorgeous garden next to a peach tree grove for outdoor tastings or you can head to the intimate tasting room patio to sample Merlot, Pinot Noir, and other delightful offerings.
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Staying at the Winery‘s Villa
My husband illustrated the Sunstone Winery “door” which is now on all the wine labels and, as partial payment, we were lucky enough to get the chance to stay at the Sunstone Villa several years ago.
It was an unforgettable stay in such a beautiful location. We basically had the entire Villa to ourselves because no one else was staying there that night!
Sometimes it’s only available for weddings and events, but now I see it’s also open to Club Sunstone Reserve Members, so if you’re looking for a gorgeous place to stay in the Santa Ynez Valley, become a member and plan a visit!
Also, here is my husband in front of the door that he drew which is now the illustration on all the labels!
If you can’t stay at the Villa, be sure to check out my 30 Charming Things to Do in Solvang post which also includes recommended accommodations nearby!
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I enjoyed both my stay at the Sunstone Villa and all of the wine tastings I’ve tried there over the years! If you’re planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, I highly recommend including Sunstone Winery on your list of must-visit wineries! Let me know in a comment below if you do!
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Golden State Getaways wants to acknowledge that we live, operate, gather, and benefit everyday on the traditional stolen lands of several Indigenous peoples and nations including the Tongva (Gabrieleno), Kizh (Gabrieleno), Chumash, Popeloutchom (Amah Mutsun), Ohlone, Awaswas, and Fernandeño Tataviam peoples who have stewarded the lands and waterways throughout their many generations in what is now the state of California.
I wanted to personally acknowledge these Indigenous people and nations and both their commitment and current contributions to the land with a donation to the American Indian College Fund because acknowledgment without action does not begin to address the systemic issues facing Indigenous people. If you feel as though you benefit from the land you’re living on or traveling to and you have the means, I kindly ask that you donate at least $1 to a Native-led organization such as the Native American Rights Fund or the American Indian College Fund.
Sunstone Winery is located in Santa Ynez which is on Chumash, Ineseño, and Shmuwich (Barbareño) land. You can learn more about the Indigenous land you’re living on or traveling to by visiting the Native Lands website.
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