In 1968, bearing a degree in geography and a taste for fine wines, Richard Sanford set out to find the perfect location to grow pinot noir grapes. He dreamed of a climate zone similar to France’s Burgundy region, often poring over maps and statistics in search of a similar locale in his native California. Upon discovering the Transverse mountain ranges of Santa Barbara County, Richard felt his shovel thump the lid of a potential treasure chest. With mountains running east to west, the range allowed the ocean air to rush down the Santa Ynez Valley and keep the climate right where he needed it. Since his discovery, Richard has worked with his wife, Thekla, for more than 40 years on 100 acres of certified organic vineyards, using the literal fruits of their labor to craft delicate versions of pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot blanc, and vin gris wines.
The oak trees surrounding Roblar Winery never lose their leaves, standing as a pastoral testament to the mild climate of the Santa Ynez Valley. It's this same climate that attracted winemakers Kerry Damskey and Brian Davison. At this bucolic vineyard just 30 minutes from Santa Barbara, they turn varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Grenache into wines praised for both their complexity and drinkability. These wines draw enthusiasts from all over to the lodge-style winery, where a 5,000 square foot tasting room hosts regular showcases of Damesky and Davison's creations. Though it's a commanding space, the tasting room is just one welcoming environ of Roblar's estate; guests can also take a glass on a patio shaded by trellised vines, or decamp to the rentable Barrel Room for banquets, conventions, or private parties.
Star Trek producer Douglas Cramer once stored his collection of fine art inside the ivy-covered building that stands at 5249 Foxen Canyon Road. But in 1995, the Firestone family acquired the scenic property to open Curtis Winery. Today, paintings still adorn the winery's walls, but French oak barrels and stomping bins create a more rustic ambience.
Small-lot winemaking techniques are at the heart of the Firestone family's wines. Grapes are harvested by hand, gently de-stemmed, and stomped for juices that ferment in open-top bins. Visitors to the winery can sip syrah, Mourvèdre, and other varietals.
Within the storefront of Royal Oak Winery, visitors learn the careful and centuries-old process of handcrafted wines. Once inside, guests will find the names and explanations of that week's?or day's?pour, wines that the vintners hope embody their philosophy that wine should be approachable and fun. Guests can sip samples at the tasting bar before purchasing a bottle or two of their sweet varietals and dessert wines.