Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara

Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

A Great Day Trip To The Santa Ynez Valley

On our final port stop in Santa Barbara, we booked a day trip for cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

On a cruise along the California coast, we found lots of opportunities for wine tasting. We started with wine tasting in the Guadalupe Valley outside of Ensenada, Mexico. Oceania Cruises provided wine tasting events and educational sessions on California wines. And on our stop in Santa Barbara, we joined Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours for an interesting wine tasting day trip.

Setting Up Our Day Trip

We often booked our excursions through the cruise ship. This ensured that we always made it back to the ship on time. On our cruise along the California coast, we booked some excursions through the cruise ship. But we visited Santa Barbara several times before and felt we could find the perfect excursion on our own.

We knew we wanted to visit the wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. This would be a new winery region to add to the long list of wine regions we visited in 2019. When we saw Cupcake and Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez Valley, we knew we found the tour for us.

It was easy to set up the winery tour online. And we got good instructions on where to meet them on shore. The port visit was long enough that there was no risk of missing the ship sailing.

Meeting Up On Shore

In Santa Barbara, the ship was anchored and we needed to get a tender boat to the dock area. Our meeting time was for 10am so we figured that a 9am tender would give us lots of time. We were not prepared for a very busy tender. And huge swells that made loading the tender very slow.

We visited Santa Barbara many times before. On our spring road trip along the California coast, we visited the harbour area for our seafood fix. As our tender approached the dock, the dock area was very familiar to us.

Santa Barbara Port.jpg

After landing, we rushed off the tender and walked up to the main street in search of the tour tents. We immediately saw a van at the curb and found Caco. He was our driver and guide for the day. Another couple from our cruise ship was also on this tour. Once we met up with them, we were on our way.

Driving To The Santa Ynez Valley

Caco drove us out of Santa Barbara and got on State Route 154 through the San Marco Pass. As we drove along, we learned about recent fires that threatened Santa Barbara. In several places, traffic was reduced to single lanes as road work was done. We passed Lake Cachuma and drove through the Los Padres National Forest.

As we drove along, we saw farming up on the hillsides. Approaching the end of the road in Los Olivos, we started to see vineyards. We knew we were close. It was time to begin cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

First Stop At Rideau Vineyards

Our first winery in the Santa Ynez Valley was at Rideau Vineyards. The grape vines were empty and the leaves had changed to fall colours. It was a quiet day so we had the tasting room almost to ourselves.

Rideau Vineyards Outside - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

Rideau Vineyards Tasting Room - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

There were two different wine flights available at the Rideau Vineyards for our tasting, each with 6 different wines. David tried the Signature flight with Roussanne, Viognier, Mourvèdre, Syrah and a signature red blend (Chateau Duplantier). I tried the Adobe Flight with two white wines of mixed Rhone varietals, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and a red Malbec blend (Brassman Red).

Rideau Vineyards Tasting Room - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

It was great to do back to back tasting of so many different varietals on two different flights. We found we liked the wines in the Adobe flight better. The Chardonnay was buttery with no heavily oaked taste. The Brassman Red was a smooth and easy drinking red wine. We liked the Camp 4 Sangiovese with its fruity taste.

Rideau Vineyards Tasting Room - Chardonnay - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Rideau Vineyards Tasting Room - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

Rideau Vineyards Tasting Room - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

When we finished our tasting, we took the Sangiovese wine outside. We enjoyed a short break on the chairs by the vineyard. It was a lovely spot for wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

Rideau Vineyards Outside - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

Rideau Vineyards Outside - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Brander Vineyards For Our Lunch Stop

The second stop was at the Brander Vineyards. This was another great vineyard resplendent in fall colours. When we went inside, we saw the tasting room all decorated for the holiday season.

Brander Vineyards - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

Brander Vineyards.jpg

Brander Vineyards.jpg

Brander Vineyards Tasting Room - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

Brander Vineyards Tasting Room - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

The Brander family were pioneers in the Santa Ynez Valley. They were known for their Sauvignon Blanc wine. We tried 3 different versions of their signature wine. The Au Natural was called the champagne of Sauvignons and its sweeter taste was better for our palette.

Brander Vineyards Tasting - Sauvignon Blanc Natalie - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Brander Vineyards Tasting - Sauvignon Blanc Au Natural - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

When the host learned that a few people in our group liked sweeter wines, he opened up a Semillion late harvest wine. This was not produced quite like the ice wines we found in Canada. As a result, we found the wine sweet but not thick and syrupy. David of course had a second serving.

Brander Vineyards Tasting - Semillion - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

We tried two red wines. The Merlot was an interesting wine that tasted light and fruity and more like Malbec. The estate Cabernet Sauvignon was drier and we were told this one would age well.

Brander Vineyards Tasting.jpg

We took a glass of wine out to the private secluded patio. Our cupcake and wine tasting tour included lunch. We enjoyed the large fresh sandwiches and snacks with our wine.

Brander Vineyards Lunch. - Santa Barbara Wine Country Toursjpg

Wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley at Brander Vineyards was a great way to try some signature wines. And have a lunch break too.

Olive Oil And More At Rancho Olivos

Our timing was good for our tour day, so Caco added one unplanned stop for us. A short distance from the Brander Vineyards he pulled into Rancho Olivos. We drove up the driveway lined with olive trees. It reminded us very much of the vast olive tree farms we saw in the Puglia region of Italy.

Rancho Olivos Olive Oil Tasting - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

There was a good variety of olive oils available to taste test and to purchase. The flavoured olive oils all had great taste. When we talked with the owner, he noted that the flavours were put in before the olives were crushed. The meant that the sediments settled out in the barrel and the oils were all very clear.

Rancho Olivos Olive Oil Tasting - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

As we drove through this region, we saw a lot of olive trees. We understood why the town at the end of SR 154 was called Los Olivos. And we were happy to try the great olive oils from Ranchos Olivos when we went cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

Cupcake and Wine Tasting At The Saarloos And Sons Tasting Room

We were excited when we pulled into the small town of Los Olivos for our last stop at the Saarloos and Sons Tasting Room. We would finish with cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

Saarloos Tasting Room Outside - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Saarloos Tasting Room Outside - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

When we entered the tasting room, the first thing we saw was a display case filled with small cupcakes. For our cupcake and wine tasting we got an interesting flight of 6 cupcakes.

Saarloos Tasting Room Cupcakes - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Saarloos Tasting Room - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

The wine tasting was done with each wine paired with a different cupcake flavour. There were wines and labels dedicated to family members. The Mom Grenach Blanc was sweetened by the triple vanilla cupcake treat. And the Sauvignon Blanc paired perfectly with the Cranberry Mojito cupcake. The blackberry Syrah cupcake had a dark chocolate centre which went perfectly with the Family Man Syrah wine.

Saarloos Tasting Room Wines.jpg

Saarloos Tasting Room Wines - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Saarloos Tasting Room Linda - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

There were three chocolate cupcakes – brown butter, chocolate maple caramel and nutella. These we tried with the Niece Petit Verdot and the Courage Cabernet Sauvignon. In all cases, the chocolate paired well. Although we found that the very sweet brown butter cupcake made the wine taste bolder.

Saarloos Tasting Room - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

Saarloos Tasting Room Cupcakes - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Saarloos Tasting Room - Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

We love when we get pairings with our wine tastings. It is always fascinating to see how a pairing can change the wine taste. Cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley was the sweetest pairing we have done. Although when we went ice wine tasting in Canada, the very sweet wines were paired with food smoked right at the table.

A Different Path Back To Santa Barbara

It was finally time to head back to Santa Barbara. Caco took a different route that wound us through Solvang before we hooked up with Hwy 101 and headed south. A drive through the Danish town of Solvang showed us windmills and cute Danish village architecture. There was even a small statue that reminded us of the Little Mermaid we saw when we visited Copenghagen.

Solvang Windmill - Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours.jpg

We got a great view of the California coast as we drove down Hwy 101. Off in the distance we saw the Channel Islands. Another spot we want to visit one day.

Santa Barbara Coast Hwy 101.jpg

When we arrived back at the dock, there was still lots of time before the last tender boat. But the fog had rolled in. Our ship was not visible out in the harbour. Every now and then we heard the ship’s fog horn blow. It was a bit of a spooky ride out to the ship.

Santa Barbara Port Fog.jpg

Santa Barbara Port Fog Oceania Cruises Sirena.jpg

A Sweet Day Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley

We were so glad we booked cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley. Our tour with Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours was the perfect way to spend a day in Santa Barbara. We got a brief look at this interesting wine region. And we know where to return the next time we visit California.

Santa Barbara was the last stop on our wine trip along the California coast. When the ship pulled anchor, we headed back to Long Beach.

Have you tried cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley from Santa Barbara? Did you enjoy this wine region?

PIN To Pinterest:

Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

Cupcake and Wine Tasting In Santa Ynez Valley From Santa Barbara.jpg

We would love if you could share this!
  • 31
  •  
  • 98
  •  
    129
    Shares
About TravelAtWill 575 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

40 Comments

  1. Ok we would absolutely have to visit the Saarloos And Sons Tasting Room. What a great idea! We’ve done wine tasting with the kids before and they’ve had juice. Such a great idea to have something sweet.

  2. I would be torn between the cup cakes and the wine at Saarloos and Sons Tasting Room. They look so delicious and I fear I might lose the taste of wines. Maybe I would reverse the trip and try the Olive place after this one so that I can tone down my taste buds. 😉

  3. Cupcake and wine tasting, now that sounds inviting! I also like the idea of booking the tours on the cruise, that way you know they will pair up well with the cruise times and you won’t be left behind anywhere. Some of the wines sounded lovely and the scenery along the way just made for a more interesting day out.

    • Emma, We were happy we chose to go wine tasting on our port day in Santa Barbara. We love that town and will definitely go back by road trip. So I see more wine tasting in my future! Linda

  4. Wine tasting is one of my favorite holiday activities. I always visit vineyards whenever I have the opportunity. I could live in such a place. So cupcake and wine tasting trip in Santa Ynez Valley seems a perfect idea for the weekend! Cupcakes look so delicious! Rancho Olivos also looks great! I am a huge fan of olives and olives oil in my kitchen. I like your trip!

  5. Those cupcakes have my husband’s name all over them. What a great idea and wonderful tour! All your photos made me nostalgic for that special golden California light. I’ve never lived there but have visited often. And there is something about viewing a ship through the fog. What great photography.

  6. What an amazing tour you found. I really love that it is not just wine. At Rideau Vineyards you seemed to have a really nice variety with several whites and reds to sample from. Its always great when you have variety flights like that. Your lunch stop also seemed amazing. Great idea to have a bit of food after the wine tasting and the setting looked beautiful. I was so surprised to see the tour also included olive oil – I am such a fan and feel this is a creative thing to include that makes this tour special. And to finish the tour with cup cakes just makes it even more perfect. I will definitely do this tour if I ever go to this area.

  7. Wow this was such a beautiful journey. I visualized traveling with you.I have never done an exclusive day dedicated to wine tasting and this looked absolutely a fabulous trip. Add to that to that the cup cake treat is so enticing.Would love to have a bit of each.Each wine paired with a different cupcake flavor is something that I would look forward to whenever I visit.

  8. I must admit I’ve never heard of a cupcake flight before, and this vineyard has really established a concept that makes it stand out and become a memorable stop along the vineyard tour. Nice that you got a bonus of an olive oil tasting too.

    • Jay, When we saw the tour description we knew we had to try cupcake and wine tasting! We have seen olive trees with vineyards before but this was a great tasting to try the variety produced. Linda

  9. This is a first to learn of a wine tour with cup cakes. Such a unique and novel idea. Great to see that a lunch is also included as was a bonus trip to an olive farm. Unique day out all round.

  10. Ooo! The cupcakes and wine sounds so fun and different. I’ve never even thought to pair a sweet item with wine. I’m actually going to Santa Barbara tomorrow and hope I can make a reservation and also hope they are pet-friendly 🙂

    • Candy, I hope you get to spend some time in the Santa Ynez Valley on your visit to Santa Barbara. We did love that little trip out of town. But then, we do love Santa Barbara too! Enjoy the seafood. Linda

  11. The first picture itself got me drooling because I love cupcakes. I am not a wine person but I love the idea of visiting vineyards. I enjoy reading about such experiences as to how different wines have different texture and taste. Pairing it up with cupcake tasting looks like a cool idea. I have always heard of wine and cheese but this definitely sounds interesting. And it would be so much fun to visit Olive tree farms and have some fresh olives. I am really fond of olive oil and bread. I did have a similar experience in Ibiza in Spain.

    • Manjulika, I am glad to make you drool. Certainly each stop on our wine tour provided us with great locations and tasty wines. Loved the variety we got with olives and cupcakes! Linda

  12. California is really wonderful place with so many wine tasting tour and I would really going for some of the wine tours when I visit California on my next US holiday. Santa Ynez valley has awesome wine tasting and lovely cup cakes. I am totally sold out for those cup cakes photo at the start of you blog. Even having those large fresh sandwiches here must be great for me. Good to know that there are olive oil farms nearby too. I would love to purchase some flavored olive oils.

    • Yukti, I hope you do get to visit this part of California. It was a new spot for us and we were so glad we planned the wine tasting trip. Great that the cupcakes were left to the last stop! Linda

  13. Cupcakes and wine tasting, what else would anyone want? This is heaven 😀 I didn’t think this could be paired but in fairness, who cares? Wine is good, Cupcake is good, so wine and cupcake can only be amazing!

    • Jen, We love to do chocolate pairings with wine. So cupcakes was a bit of an extension of that. It was interesting to see the pairings. And to find that the cupcakes did change the taste of the wine. Loved all the options for wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. Linda

  14. Now, that sounds like an enjoyable experience. I’m not that much into cup cakes, but a high quality wine tasting: Count me in. It’s funny: I have the brown Chesterfield coach, however, I’m missing this cool wine bottle wall 😀

  15. Solvang is one of our favorite day trip spots! They have amazzing Danish goodies there too. Now that I know there is a place that does cupcake tasting.. Im on it. We <3 all kinds of desserts so thank you for adding to our day trip city list!!

    • Sophia, It was our first visit to the Santa Ynez Valley but won’t be the last. Happy to introduce a new experience for you. We did love touring the wineries in the valley. And the sweet treat to finish up. Linda

  16. I love Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. What a fun tour you had! That’s such a gorgeous area to relax and explore. When I hear about the wine country there it always makes me think of the quirky movie, “Sideways”. If you’re ever in the area again check out the Cold Springs Tavern. It’s an old stage coach stop turned restaurant just off 154 between Santa Barbara and Solvang. Well worth the detour. https://www.coldspringtavern.com/

    • Nancy, We were glad we had the chance to explore the Santa Ynez Valley on our last visit to Santa Barbara. It was a great discovery. Thanks for the restaurant recommendation for our next visit. Linda

We love to get your comments!