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Sommeliers of the Year

Where to Drink Wine in Santa Barbara, CA

Where to Drink Wine in Santa Barbara, CA

Bacara in Santa Barbara Photo courtesy of Bacara Resort

Eric Railsback of Les Marchands in Santa Barbara, California, is one of Food & Wine’s 2014 Sommeliers of the Year. Here, 10 top places for wine in his city.

1. Bacara
Everyone knows that Bacara is a beautiful place to stay the night, but most don’t know about all of the hidden gems that are tucked away on the extensive wine list here. There are many great bottles that have been aged impeccably and are priced to move. I have personally been trying to deplete the cellar myself, but there are still a few things left, as I have been underperforming this winter. 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta; 805-968-0100; bacararesort.com

2. Hungry Cat
The Hungry Cat is home to some of the best uni in the world. It arrives fresh every day—comes right off the boat and goes directly to your table. To top that off, the wine list has one of the best Champagne selections in town. You can find a handful of very small, highly allocated producers to pair with your plateau of shellfish and uni. 1134 Chapala St., Santa Barbara; 805-884-4701; thehungrycat.com

3. Butterfly Beach
I am not sure if it is actually legal to drink wine at Butterfly Beach, but there is nothing like drinking a glass of Corsican Vermentino while watching the dolphins swim at sunset. An activity not to be missed. santabarbara.com/activities/beaches/butterfly/

4. Pane e Vino
There’s absolutely no pretension in the wine scene here—old-school family Italian joint. Great pasta. Delicious wine. No tricks. 1482 E. Valley Rd.; 805-969-9274; panevinosb.com

5. Zotovich Cellars
Some of the greatest wine moments I have had drinking wine have been in the vineyards. Everything seems to make sense when you are looking at the vines that produced what is in your glass. Hanging out with winemaker Ryan Zotovich on the hill just above his vineyard—that has been a great location to crack many bottles over the past year. 300 N. 12th St., Ste. 1D, Lompoc; 805-736-1600; zotovichcellars.com

6. Mattei’s Tavern
Living only a few miles from Mattei’s Tavern makes it a natural location to crack a few bottles. 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos; 805-688-3550; matteistavern.com

7. The Funk Zone neighborhood
Over the past few years, the Funk Zone has established itself as one of the best places in the county to taste Santa Barbara wines. There are more than 20 tasting rooms to pop into and it’s only a block or two from the beach. What’s not to like about that? funkzone.net

8. Julienne
This is one of the best family-run restaurants in Santa Barbara. Julienne has a great, small wine list of well-chosen gems that all seem to taste better when paired with the house-made pasta. 138 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara; 805-845-6488; restaurantjulienne.com

9. San Ysidro Ranch
This—hands down—has the most beautiful grounds in Montecito. Not much out there better than enjoying a bottle of Dauvissat Chablis on the terraces on a warm summer night. 900 San Ysidro Ln., Montecito; 805-565-1700; sanysidroranch.com

10. Arnoldi’s Café
For outdoor drinking, Arnoldi’s is the place to be in the summer. The back patio is lined with pétanque courts and the only thing to drink while taking part in these activities is rosé—and lots of it! 600 Olive St., Santa Barbara; 805-962-5394; arnoldis.com

Related: Eric Railsback's Life Story in 5 Wines
Santa Barbara Wine Basics
Best California Wineries to Visit

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