The 18 best rated Solvang wineries and downtown tasting rooms
The “Danish capital of America” serves as the charming host of some of the best wineries in the Santa Barbara wine growing region.
You’ll find rustic Solvang wineries tucked along the rolling hills of the Mediterranean-like Santa Ynez Valley, lying northwest of Santa Barbara and 20 minutes away from the nearest Pacific Coast beach.
In historic Solvang, more wine experiences await. From quaint streets framed with Danish-style architecture, you will find wineries from across the Santa Barbara wine region putting on an excellent tasting show for visitors to the downtown area.
We can’t wait for you to explore these award-winning wineries.
In the Santa Barbara wine region, you have the choice of visiting quaint towns with wine tasting rooms lined up one after another. Another option is the road less traveled.
Take a wine tour or venture out on your own into the valleys, driving across mountains and winding through canyons to find the quintessential rustic wineries.
What’s your preference? Rustic, out-of-the way winery with a tasting room and picnic grounds overlooking vineyards and rolling hills. Or, a wine tasting crawl in a quaint town. No one says you can’t do both!
In this article, you will find all the information you need to make your decisions on how to best experience Solvang wineries.
Central Coast wine region
Solvang is located within the largest of the six Santa Barbara County federally designated wine-growing regions, known officially as American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issue AVAs.
The region is conducive to growing several varieties of grapes, including:
- Pinot Noir
- Sauvignon Blanc
Intersecting with the wide east-west corridor of Santa Ynez are two other appellations with grapes prominently featured in bottles from Solvang wineries.
From a map view, Ballard Canyon and Los Olivos District look like they took out the middle of Santa Ynez. Happy Valley AVA borders to the east and Sta. Rita Hills to the west.
Top Solvang wine tastings by online ratings
In our listing of Solvang wineries, we divide the brands into two categories:
- Solvang area wineries and vineyards that are open to the public.
- Tasting rooms in downtown Solvang
Our preference is to venture into the hills to see the actual wineries, but in the Santa Barbara wine region, most of the wineries have tasting rooms in towns like Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez, and Los Olivos.
To help you decide between all the options, we used a weighted average of online reviews from Yelp, Google, and Tripadvisor. Yelp almost always had the most reviews, followed by Google, and then Tripadvisor.
The weighted average ratings were based on all data available up to February 2022. The ratings are based on a 5-point system with 5 being the highest rating.
In our research, ratings were most often based on opinions about the service more so than on the actual wines.
When you look at the reviews, we recommend that you view ratings and comments from the last 6 months. A few low scores in an earlier time period can really skew downward the overall rating.
Solvang wineries open to the public for wine tasting and picnics by rating
- Kaena Wine Company – 4.5
- Rusack Vineyards – 4.3
- Lincourt Vineyards – 4.3
- Rideau Vineyard – 4.2
- Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard – 4
- Blackjack Ranch – 3.7
Wineries with tasting rooms in downtown Solvang by rating
- Casa Cassara Winery and Vineyard – 4.9
- Dana V. Wines – 4.9
- Crawford Family Wines – 4.9
- Feliz Noche Cellars – 4.8
- McClain Family Cellars – 4.8
- Dascomb Cellars – 4.6
- Royal Oaks Winery – 4.5
- Sanger Wines – 4.3
- Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards – 4
- Toccata – 4
- Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards Tasting Room – 3.8
- Lions Peak Vineyards – 3.6
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6 Solvang wineries open to public
At Explore with Tess, we tend to favor a winery visit over a tasting-room-only experience. There’s something about taking in the terroir as you overlook the vineyards that can’t be replicated in tasting rooms.
I like to feel and smell the dirt, bask in the sun, and take in everything about the birthplace of a wine.
But if you’re like my friend Liam, who prefers a tasting room crawl, you’ll be interested in the section below about all the wonderful wine tasting experiences awaiting you in downtown Solvang.
But first, we’ll start with an overview of the 6 best Solvang wineries and a few things to keep in mind.
- Most of the wineries have wine clubs, but the wines are not likely to be found at a liquor store near you. You buy through the club or pick up bottles at the winery.
- The pandemic hit the area hard in terms of nearly eliminating wine tastings. California had strict restrictions for public gatherings. Wine brands rallied by creating outdoor seating and that includes the wine tasting rooms in downtown Solvang.
- Wineries, however, still have to observe some restrictions. Most will not accommodate a group of more than 6 people. Always check in advance.
- Reservations are recommended and in many cases required.
- Wineries may not be operating tours of the vineyard and wine making facilities, but the tasting room and picnic grounds are open.
#1 Kaena Wine Company
In 2021, Keana Wine celebrated its 20th anniversary. That’s long-term for a winery in Santa Barbara County. They must be doing something right!
Owner and winemaker Mikael Sigouin is known in the area as the “Grenache King.” His winery specializes in Rhone varietal wines, and the Grenache holds the dearest place for Kaena Wine.
Although the Kaena Winery is located near Solvang, Mikael also sources grapes from three vineyards in the Ballard Canyon AVA. In addition to the Rhone grape varietals, The Kaena winemaker uses French and Italian grapes in his blends.
The ranch location is open daily from 11 to 5 and on Sundays from noon to 5. At the time of publication, no reservations are required.
Find out more by messaging Keana Wine on Facebook and sign up for one of their fun workshops, like the Essential Oils and Macramé class – you can sign up for all workshops on Facebook.
#2 Rusack Vineyards
The Rusack Vineyards wine estate is known for its Syrah, the grape varietal which drew attention to the winery. Nearly half of the estate’s 48 acres are planted in Syrah.
The Rusacks have interspersed smaller blocks of Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Petite Sirah. In a tiny block within one of the acres Merlot and Petit Verdot grow on classic Bordeaux trellising with an ultimate destination in mind – blending into the estate’s renowned Anacapa red.
The 2018 Anacapa is a beautiful, complex blend of three distinct grape varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The robust texture is complemented by lush velvety tannins providing an elegant well-rounded taste.
The winery sources grapes from other vineyards in the Santa Barbara region, but we recommend you start with the vineyard-sourced wines to taste the full expanse of flavors expressed through the Rusack vineyard terroir.
The Rusack tasting room has a large deck to lounge, enjoy the view, and have a little picnic. It’s a casual and comfortable tasting room that is delightful and unpretentious.
You can order charcuterie plates 24 hours in advance or bring a light lunch and snacks – but no coolers are allowed! Each seating is 90 minutes only, as is the case with most of the Solvang wineries.
You can book directly through the Rusack Vineyards website.
#3 Lincourt Vineyards
Lincourt Vineyards is a hidden gem in the heart of California’s Santa Ynez Valley. Once an old dairy property, their tasting room is an original 1926 Sears Craftsman kit home. Tastings are offered on the expansive patio overlooking the vineyards.
Except for major holidays, the tasting room is open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They recommend making a reservation two weeks in advance for a 90-minute tasting experience.
Lincourt is named for the two daughters (Lindsay and Courtney) of owner and vintner Bill Foley. The estate vineyards span two of the Santa Barbara AVA regions: Santa Ynez and Santa Rita Hills.
The main grape varietals are:
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
#4 Rideau Vineyard
Rideau Vineyard is a family-owned winery that specializes in handcrafted Rhone wines. Located deep within Santa Barbara County, it’s not only one of California’s most beautiful vineyards but also home to some truly amazing wine!
An oasis for wine lovers and travelers alike, Rideau Vineyard greets you with its welcoming atmosphere reminiscent of the warm hospitality extended by the vineyard’s first owner, Iris Rideau, the first female African-American winery owner in the U.S.
New owners Martin and Isabelle Gauthier have worked hard to create excellent wines and to continue Iris’ legacy.
Tastings are offered by reservation only. Estate tours are on hold because of the pandemic.
#5 Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard
Thanks to Niki and Kevin Gleason of Gleason Family Vineyards, one of the most iconic Solvang wineries, Buttonwood Farm Winery, will live on through a new ownership. The Gleasons purchased Buttonwood in December 2021.
Buttonwood Winery “has such deep roots in this wine region, and in the area’s agricultural community,” said Kevin Gleason. “As a family owned and operated group, this resonated highly with us, and we look forward to becoming new stewards for this land to continue to prosper and evolve.”
Buttonwood’s sustainable vineyard was first planted with a focus on Bordeaux-style wines. The original plantings have evolved over time. Nearly half of the 42-acre estate vineyards are planted in Sauvignon Blanc and smaller blocks are planted with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, and Sémillon.
The wines are made right on the property. Reservations are recommended for tastings and picnicking. Tastings are seated and self-pour and include five seasonal wines.
#6 Blackjack Ranch
One of the better known Solvang wineries is the Blackjack Ranch. The winery began production in 1997 and debuted with a red wine and a white wine that both received 90 points from the Robert Parker Wine Advocate. Proprietor Roger Wisted says they are not aware of other wines with that type of debut.
Blackjack Ranch wines had an unusual start. Thanks to proceeds made from an invention, Wisted was able to realize his dream of planting a vineyard and building a winery.
The invention? California Blackjack, a casino game that he patented, trademarked and copyrighted. So, if you end up loving the wine, you can thank the game!
Visitors have been coming to the winery since 1999. It’s no small feat for a start-up winery to achieve this level of success. Featured wines include:
- Bordeaux blend
- Cabernet Franc
- Pinot Noir
For a wine tasting, you have a choice of outdoor table seating under a canopy or picnic grounds to enjoy the full sun. For groups who call ahead, you might even be able to book the wisteria-covered pergola.
Wine tasting in downtown Solvang
For convenient and numerous wine tasting opportunities, downtown Solvang is your place. We may not recommend trying all 12 of these tasting rooms in one day, but certainly stay a few days and sample them all!
Most wine tasting rooms in Solvang are closed on Tuesdays. Also, because of Covid restrictions, many tastings are outdoors only.
Casa Cassara Winery and Vineyard
- 2020 Solvang winery of the year.
- Wine tastings first come first served.
- If you have a chance, try the Estate Pinot Noir.
Dana V. Wines
- Sign up for one of their wine education classes.
- Family and dog friendly tasting room – outdoors.
- Handcrafted, single vineyard wines.
Crawford Family Wines
- Specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
- Rhone wines are the most recent addition to their brand.
- Private tastings only at the winery in Buellton.
Feliz Noche Cellars
- Reservations needed for groups of 6 or more.
- Unlike other Solvang wine tasting rooms, Feliz Noche is open all week.
- We recommend trying the Sangiovese, which the winemaker refers to as his passion.
McClain Family Cellars
- The Solvang tasting room features a 36-foot long fire pit.
- Private wine tastings can be arranged.
- In addition to wine appreciation classes, they offer tastings for artisan popcorn, olive oils, and vinegars.
- Their vineyards are among the oldest in Santa Barbara County.
- Small batch wines that are handcrafted by the owner.
- They are known for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Royal Oaks Winery
- They offer a wine pairing featuring chocolates made by local artisans.
- Enjoy the recently remodeled tasting room or the outdoor patio.
- Sample a fruit wine like Elderberry or Honeysuckle Peach. If you like fruit wines, read all about the health benefits of pineapple wine.
- The Sanger family of wines consists of three brands: Consilience, Marianello, and Tre Anelli.
- Wines inspired by the traditions of France, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula.
- Olive oils and vinegar tastings are complimentary.
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
- The wine is produced in small batches of fewer than 400 cases.
- The tasting room features a 1000-square-foot courtyard and an indoor/outdoor space.
- A wine flight consists of 5 wines from their portfolio of Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Rhone varietals and sparkling wines.
Toccata and Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
- Two tasting rooms but one winery. Lucas & Lewellen pours the French varietal wines and Toccata pours the Italian varietal wines.
- They are directly across the street from one another, and when you pay for tasting at one, take your receipt across the street and they will apply half off the tasting fee.
Lions Peak Vineyards
- The winemaker is recognized for producing highly acclaimed ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon.
- The wine portfolio includes Bordeaux and Rhone red and white varietals.
- We love the old world charm of their tasting room.
Final thoughts on Solvang wineries
Solvang is one of the more delightful wine destinations in the U.S. You could visit for days and not run out of opportunities for wine tastings and wine events.
Solvang may revolve around Santa’s Barbara’s wine country, but the city and surrounding areas have plenty to offer for the whole family – even your pet! Most tasting rooms are dog friendly.
Let us know how you enjoyed your visit to Solvang and tell us about your favorite wines from the region in the comments below.
After you purchase your favorite bottle of wine, carry it around in one of these fun and trendy wine purses.