Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Cycling through Santa Barbara Wine Country

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A few weekends ago, I took an afternoon away from the little one to finally do a little riding coupled with wine tasting. When in SB… do as the Santa Barbarians (and tourists), and sip some vino.

My friend and I spontaneously came up with the idea of a wine tasting bike tour the morning of, and drafted up a route using some older resources we found on the SB Bike Coalition and Crazy Guy on a Bike websites. We were shooting for something around 15 miles without too much climbing. I’d say we were successful in doing so, so I’m sharing the route and details here. Would love to hear if I’m able to inspire any others to do something similar!

Ride start: Solvang, CA

Street parking off of the main touristy streets is easy. Solvang is a cute Danish village with windmills, pastry shops, and hordes of tourists in high season. Grab a serving of aebleskivers if you’re peckish before you even start riding.

Bikes outside Kalyra Winery

Stop #1: Kalyra Winery at 343 N. Refugio Road

From Solvang, we rode along the 246 / Mission Drive – and the stretch of bike trail that runs along that for awhile – to Refugio Road, where we turned south to get to Kalyra Winery. The stretch from Solvang to this first winery was about 3.5 miles, and not too bad riding. It was nice to discover the bike trail that runs on the north side of the 246, which you can get onto shortly after the intersection with Alamo Pintado Road (careful crossing the 246).

Refugio Road was lightly trafficked and it was a pleasant ride in, though the road surface is pocked with potholes. Those sitting on the patio at the winery can see cyclists as they approach. The decor at Kalyra has more of a beach shack feel than country club, showing off the winemaker’s Australian roots. The best feature, though, is the great patio that often features live music. You get a great vista, some accompanying tunes, and a relaxed vibe. And there’s a lawn if you want to picnic!

We got a tasting flight, and not much more than that, which is probably the way to go if you’re riding as well.

Live entertainment and patio at Kalyra Winery
Baby grapes

From Kalyra Winery, we continued riding north on Refugio Road to the touristy wine-soaked town of Los Olivos. That stretch was about 6 miles and felt comfortable on a bike: country roads, mostly with a decent enough shoulder, and light car traffic. Los Olivos has a few options for food and more than a few options for wine tasting, but we only took a snack break before heading south again.

The ride from Los Olivos to the next winery, Rusack Vineyards, was one of the more magical scenes I’ve seen from a bike saddle. I had to compare it to a Windows XP desktop background, but it was arguably even more idyllic.

Windows XP-like scenery rolling by

Stop #2: Rusack Winery at 1819 Ballard Canyon Road

The ambiance of Rusack Winery was a big contrast to that at Kalyra. Here we only barely made it in time to do a tasting flight (they closed at 5, so the latest they’d start tastings was 4:30), but were greeted with a classy looking porch area with many afternoon picnickers. We tasted several wines, commented on the number of times they used the descriptor ‘elegant’ in their wine tasting sheet, and generally took in the atmosphere. There were lots of spacious tables outside, so many people were there in groups. They also let you keep your glass after you do a tasting!

Parking it at Rusack Vineyards

Afterwards, we rode back to Solvang, continuing south on Ballard Canyon Road to Chalk Hill / Atterdag Road. Very lovely riding all around, but Ballard Canyon Road near Rusack Winery is some of the more beautiful wine country experience you can take in. Next time I think I would pack more snacks or a picnic lunch to bring along by bike. And I would say two or three wineries is probably enough for a single afternoon. Highly recommend doing a ride like this sometime if you have any interest!

Written by Crystal Bae

June 4th, 2017 at 4:14 pm

One Response to 'Cycling through Santa Barbara Wine Country'

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  1. Nice Map!

    Brian DeRocher

    4 Jun 17 at 6:16 pm

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