Weekend Escape: Santa Barbara Wine Country in Los Olivos, California
Sample some fine wine, food, and shops
Los Olivos Merchant Cafe was used for a dining scene in the movie, Sideways.
Photos by Maria Zang
Los Olivos is a small wine community designated within Santa Barbara County with a population of 1,132.
Located off of Highway 154 along Santa Barbara’s Wine Country district, the area is known for its local wineries/vineyards and wine-tasting rooms.
Los Olivos has also gained notoriety in recent years from films like Sideways and its close proximity to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
Here are a few hot spots to visit.
When in wine country, do as the locals do - grab a seat at the wine bar, extend your wine glass forward and signal to pour. Remember to sip carefully and pace yourself.
Saarloos Sons Wine Tasting Room, 2971 Grand Ave.
This family run, farm-winery boasts such wine blends as The Family Tree 2011 or 2010 Courage. Both lovely bold blends that go down very easily.
Sweets & Such
Enjoy Cupcakes, 2971 Grand Ave.
Wine and cupcakes go together perfectly, or so I found out! Saarloos & Sons appeases those sweet tooth wine lovers with mini cupcakes by Enjoy Cupcakes. Baker Amber Joy Vander Vliet creatively infuses local wines like syrah and chardonnay into her cupcakes. The menu list includes blackberry syrah made from Saarloos wines, and vanilla chardonnay cake with lime curd and grand marnier frosting.
Olive Hill Farm, 2901 Grand Ave.
Olive Hill Farm provides local olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings at their tasting room in Los Olivos. Their olive oils and straight wine vinegars are grown locally. They offer five signature blends of flavored olive oils. including blood orange, tangerine, lemon, rosemary, and basil. Owner Gus Sousoures has been farming olives since 2002. He blends locally grown products like oranges, lemons, and garlic into his flavored olive oils.
Sides Hardware and Shoes, 2375 Alamo Pintado Ave.
The Nichols brothers, Matt and Jeff, have done it again. In 2002, the brothers brought fine dining to Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos (hands down, the best prime rib you’ll ever taste). In 2012, the brothers joined forces again and opened Sides Hardware and Shoes, where their made-from-scratch cuisine and welcoming atmosphere keeps their customers coming back. One historical note. Milburn Sides, owner of M. Sides Hardware and Shoes, ran his family operated business from this historic building from 1901-70.
Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe, 2879 Grand Ave.
If fine dining paired with locally hand-selected and top-rated wines is more your style, then visit Los Olivos Wine Merchant Café. They have more than 500 local and international wines , and gourmet Mediterranean style cuisine. No wonder a dining scene from the movie, Sideways, was shot here.
Bonita Los Olivos & Toro, 2362 Alamo Pintado Ave.
Bonita retail boutique has opened its second location in Los Olivos, and this time it has expanded to include a men’s section. They offer popular lines of women’s clothing, like James Perse, Frank & Eileen, and Genentic Demin. For the guys, there is CP Shades, Daftbird & Autumn Cashmere as well as distinctive gifts and jewelry collections.
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, 6200 Foxen Canyon Road
Fess Parker earned a loyal fan following from his portrayals of frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boon during the1950s and 1960s. He has built an equally loyal audience with his winery, including Eli Parker’s 1993 Santa Barbara County Syrah.
Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa, 2860 Grand Ave.
Formerly The Grand Hotel, Fess Parker purchased this charming 19-room inn in 1998. It has been completely renovated and is now listed as one of the premier boutique properties in Santa Barbara Wine Country.