Santa Maria Valley: A Wine and Fun-Filled Weekend Escape!


The Petite Wine Traveler on tour through the Santa Maria Valley

As a wine and travel writer, I’ve had the privilege of exploring some of California’s most charming wine regions. However, I recently stumbled upon a hidden gem a mere hour’s drive from Santa Barbara but a world away in terms of experiences: Santa Maria Valley. 

With 34 tasting rooms, over 50 restaurants, and unique attractions and experiences galore, this Central Coast haven offers everything you need for an unforgettable weekend getaway. Whether you’re a foodie, a wine connoisseur, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking new adventures, Santa Maria Valley has something to delight and inspire every traveler.

Rest and have a sip of wine at Dewlson Family Farm 

Dewlson Family Farm – A Sustainable Oasis: Our journey began at Dewlson Family Farm, a sustainable haven off Highway 101. Judy Dewey and Ron Paulson have poured their hearts into cultivating lemons, coffee, tea, and more on this beautiful farm. Their sustainable practices make it possible for you to walk the farm, savor their fruits, and indulge in tasty treats with confidence. From lemons to coffee, it’s an educational and relaxing oasis that’s not to be missed.

Oso Flaco Lake Trail – Nature’s Wonderland: Next, we embarked on a serene hike along the Oso Flaco Lake Trail, nestled within the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. This 1.7-mile trail is perfect for families and nature lovers, leading us to a freshwater lake surrounded by diverse natural habitats. With over 200 bird species and wildflowers, it’s a slice of heaven on Earth.

Old Orcutt – Treasure Hunting: Shopaholics will be in paradise when exploring Old Orcutt. Browse for antiques at Deja Vu Antique Mall and indulge in some retail therapy.

Steller’s Cellar – Unique Sipping: In the heart of Old Orcutt, you’ll find this must-stop destination for all wine and beer enthusiasts. This cool wine/beer bar and bottle shop offers an exceptional selection of libations, with six beers on tap, over 40 craft beers in cans and bottles, and a staggering variety of over 350 different wines from local wineries as well as from around the world. Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing craft beer or a fine wine, Steller’s Cellar has you covered. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a drink in the charming atmosphere of Old Orcutt during your Santa Maria Valley adventure. 

The Luffa Farm – Natural Spa Goodies: If you’re like me, you might have believed luffas hailed from the sea. But guess what… they’re actually a gourd and grown on land, not under the waves! Discover the enchanting world of luffas at The Luffa Farm, just a breezy 20-minute drive from Santa Maria. Deanne Coon tends to this unique farm, cultivating luffas year-round and offering free tours from Wednesday to Sunday. They feature natural luffas, soaps, bath salts, lotions, and more. Your skin will thank you!

The Homestead – Deli and More: For a delicious dining experience, visit The Homestead in Old Orcutt. This full-service deli offers cold and hot sandwiches, wine, spreads, pasta, and more. It’s the perfect place to refuel during your adventures in the valley, and savor the delectable flavors of Santa Maria Style BBQ.

But that’s not all – if you have a hankering for baked goods or a cozy coffee shop, look no further than their sister restaurant, Cups & Crumbs in Orcutt. This local bakery and coffee shop is where you’ll find the best baked goods, aromatic brews, and a warm atmosphere that feels just like home. It’s the cherry on top of your Santa Maria Valley culinary experience.

Luffa in its natural form at The Luffa Farm

Cubanissimo Cuban Coffee House & Cafe – A Taste of Cuba: Join in on an exotic dining experience at Cubanissimo Cuban Coffee House & Cafe! Located at 4869 South Bradley Road, Santa Maria, this cafe offers a high-quality, fast-casual Cuban dining experience where patrons can get the Cuban food they have come to love in a more traditional setting.

Santa Maria Wine Trolley – Sip & Savor: For wine enthusiasts, the Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley is a must. Hop on this charming trolley, which takes you along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, offering a delightful wine-tasting experience with safe transportation. Running every Saturday and Sunday from May to November, it’s a journey that will undoubtedly leave you thirsty for more.

Your wine adventure wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of the local wineries. After savoring the delightful wines on the trolley, it’s time to embark on the next part of your journey: exploring the diverse and exquisite flavors of Santa Maria Valley’s renowned wine region by visiting the nearby wineries. Santa Maria Valley is one of the seven unique AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) nestled in Santa Barbara County, and it holds the distinction of being the Central Coast’s first officially approved AVA encompassing a vast 7,500 vineyard acres. This unique geographical setting ensures a Mediterranean climate, resulting in grapes that boast complex and exquisite flavors.

Presqu’ile Winery – A Must-Visit: One of Santa Maria Valley’s most beautiful and renowned wineries, Presqu’ile, offers delicious wines and sweeping scenic views. Voted a top 10 tasting room in USA Today’s 2018 Reader’s Choice Awards, Presqu’ile focuses on making wines from the area, and their sustainably farmed vineyard. Try the Santa Maria Valley blend and compare it to the single vineyard designate wines for a true pinot noir educational experience.

Bien Nacido Vineyard – Legendary Wines: Our wine adventure continued at the newly opened Bien Nacido Gatehouse at Bien Nacido Vineyard. This legendary and renowned vineyard has graced the Santa Maria Valley for generations. Known for its exceptional chardonnay and pinot noir, Bien Nacido’s wines are a true testament to the region’s unique terroir.

Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery – A Wine Lover’s Paradise: We couldn’t resist a visit to Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery, specializing in hand-crafted pinot noir, syrah, and chardonnay. This 78-acre estate, located on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, is a wine lover’s paradise, and it’s in an idyllic setting.

Costa de Oro Winery – Sip and Savor: Our adventure continued at Costa de Oro Winery, a vineyard that uses old-world winemaking styles and new-world grape growing methods to create complex and harmonious pinot noirs and chardonnays. It’s a veteran of the Santa Maria wine industry, with the only tasting room located right off Highway 101. A visit here is a must for wine connoisseurs.

As you can see Santa Maria Valley has so much to offer, and is more than just a wine region; it’s a place where you’re welcomed like old-time friends and fed like family. So, Santa Barbarans, if you’re yearning for an unforgettable weekend country escape, make Santa Maria Valley your next adventure. With its exceptional wines, an abundance of fun activities, and a treasure trove of unique experiences, this enchanting place will quickly find its way into your heart. As you raise your glass to good times and toast to great adventures, here’s to the memories you’ll create in Santa Maria Valley that will last a lifetime. Cheers!