A Day in Santa Barbara and World of Pinot
Santa Barbara is often referred to as “The American Riviera” and for good reason. While I lived in Santa Barbara County for a number of years growing up, I didn’t always appreciate its beauty and the diversity to the area. My eyes were wide opened when I decided to take a day trip and attend World of Pinot.
The beach, wine, stunning architecture. What’s not to love?
A Drive up the 101
The day was off to a good start when GPS said it’d take 90 minutes to get to Santa Barbara. It’s taken me longer to get to Orange County, so I was excited about this. While driving the 405 South is my gateway to stunning beach cities like San Diego, there’s nothing like driving North. Less traffic, more valley, less noise, more ocean. Ventura and Oxnard are great beach pit stops while you’ll always cruise by Camarillo if you feel like checking out their premium outlets. Some iced caffeine was calling my name, so I stopped off at the outlets’ Starbucks stand for a pick me up. Instead of a cafe, this is literally a small stand on the South end of the vast plaza. A bit crowded, it was fun and old time-y to experience Starbucks in a unique setting. Cool discovery, too: The Disney Store outlet. You’re welcome.
As I arrived in Santa Barbara, I had a bit of time to enjoy the city before heading to the Ritz Carlton Bacara resort to have an afternoon at World of Pinot. I decided my first stop should be Crushcakes Bakery and Cafe. With 3 locations in the area, I’ve been enjoying Crushcakes’ breakfasts and gluten-free cupcakes for easily 10 years now. I thought it’d be a good idea to get some grub in me with so much wine ahead. As always, the cafe didn’t disappoint and set the mood for some walks down Memory Lane.
Visiting Santa Barbara
I began at an old reliable in Santa Barbara: their gorgeous mission. Visiting since I was a child, the grey morning before the rain came in brought the Pacific Northwest to mind and made for some great pictures of the Spanish architecture amidst the overcast weather.
While I wasn’t sure what to expect, I decided to drive over to the Santa Barbara Bowl. One of my most favorite venues, I went to a handful of concerts at the 4,600 seat outdoor venue and so many memories are there for me. Lucky for me, they said it’d be alright if I walked up the hill and took a peek. If I wanted to kill my ego a bit, I did as I was convinced the hill up to get to the bowl wouldn’t be so bad. I was just being dramatic when I was young. Nope. It’s a very rigorous uphill walk if you’re not prepared. While a bit winded, I made it and am so glad I did.
It’s strange to feel old. Old enough to have memories that are nearly 20 years ago. Back then, I wanted to be grown up and begin my own life. I felt incredibly alive whenever I got to hear (and see) live music. Quite a bit of it, right here at the Bowl. I always feel connected inside performance venues, so you can imagine how peaceful it was to just sit at the top of the arena and remember the concerts I’ve seen.
World of Pinot
It’s always great when I have a reason to take a day trip. In Santa Barbara’s case, the annual World of Pinot weekend was calling my name. It also meant I’d get to spend the afternoon at one of the most stunning resorts you’ll come by, The Ritz Carlton Bacara.
World of Pinot was established in 2001 and is an impressive annual event that includes two days of in-depth tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, locally-influenced lunches and dinners and more. The festivities are hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from around the USA. Back when they launched, the focus was local regions like Santa Ynez and Lompoc, regions that Pinot Noir thrive in. Through the years, the event has expanded just as Pinot has. As I know from my trips last year, Oregon is another great vicinity to grow the red wine.
I attended the Friday Grand Tasting and I’ll be honest-it was a bit overwhelming! A beautiful banquet hall was filled with winemakers eagerly ready to pour you some of the best Pinot they have. I loved connecting with wineries like Flying Goat and Foley. Both local to Santa Barbara County, these were some of the first wines I tried way back in the day.
A new favorite I discovered was a 2018 sparkling Pinot Noir Rose from Napa Valley’s Cuvaison. I’ve been more of a sparkling drinker as of late, and wines like this prove why. Full of life and zesty, this Pinot Rose combines all of the reasons why I love the 3 together. It was a celebration in a glass, with subtle acidity notes and a citrus finish. It made for the perfect libation to sip and enjoy before I took a break to explore the Bacara resort.
The Ritz Carlton Bacara
A landmark to Santa Barbara, The Ritz Carlton Bacara lays on the beach in nearby Gaviota. I felt a million miles away from anywhere as I walked through the grounds and soaked in the exquisite Spanish and Mediterranean architecture. Private beach access enabled me to step onto the sand and watch the rain slowly move in on the overcast afternoon. Maybe it was all of that Pinot talking, but the views just took my breath away.
Whether you stay at the Bacara or visit for the day, several amenities await you. From top notch spa services to dining, including their Foley Wine Bar, The Ritz Carlton’s Bacara is one of the must-see iconic landmarks in Santa Barbara County.
Plan Your Excursion to Santa Barbara
If you can stay more than a day, do so in Santa Barbara. It’s such a diverse community with districts like The FunkZone, State street and the ocean, of course. Learn more HERE. xo