The wine country of California’s Central Coast stays ahead of the latest travel trends by simply being itself
(SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif.) — As travel habits evolve and new interests pique, the Santa Ynez Valley always seems to find itself at the forefront of the latest trends in travel. It’s a good place to be, and not just because the Santa Ynez Valley is nestled in a fertile valley that has nurtured the region into the wine country gem of California’s Central Coast.
What makes the Santa Ynez Valley a perfect fit for today’s travel tastes is what already comes so naturally. From an eco-conscious, locally sourced culinary culture, to world-class wines crafted from area vineyards using renewable and sustainable practices, and a naturally slower pace of everyday life, the Santa Ynez Valley is suited to attract and inspire visitors.
“Today’s traveler thinks about more than simply visiting a destination. They want to immerse themselves in an interesting local culture, minimize their impact on the environment, and generally enrich their lives, all while experiencing the needed respite from busy day-to-day lives,” said Shelby Sim, CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “For the Santa Ynez Valley to fulfill those needs and meet those trends, all it has had to do is continue to build on what it has always been: a picturesque region that has for generations welcomed its guests while taking care in preserving its unique history, culture, and environment.”
The slow travel movement
Today’s traveler embraces the “less is more” mentality, preferring to pack in just a bit less on a trip while immersing themselves more deeply into the local culture instead. In the Santa Ynez Valley, home to six communities all situated within just a few miles from one another, a connection to food, wine, and local culture runs deep. It can be found on a peaceful drive down a bucolic road lined with vineyards, or in an in-depth conversation with a winemaker as you sip. It can be found in an imaginative, farm-to-table dinner to be savored. And it’s in experiencing the distinctive cultures of each community, encompassing everything from classic California wine country and Northern European traditions, to Native American culture and the very best of the Old West.
An incredible 57 percent of Americans reported they did not take a vacation longer than four nights in the previous year, according to a recent survey by Allianz Global Assistance. That doesn’t leave much time to waste.
Barely two hours from Los Angeles, a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, and a short drive from the Santa Barbara Airport, the Santa Ynez Valley does not require a full day of travel to transport yourself to a new world. Once in the region, you’ll find no shortage of explorations — a hike through wildflowers ending with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, a 360-degree view from a hot air balloon, a horseback ride through the vineyards, or breathtaking ride on two wheels on a winding country road. And with more than 100 wineries, farm-to-table cuisine sourced from local farms, ranches, and the Pacific Ocean, and arts and culture touched by the historical influence of Native Americans, Catholic missionaries, cowboys, and Europeans, a diverse, enriching experience is just a few short hours away.
The concept of “natural wine” is just beginning to take shape. But already it is a growing movement that many Santa Ynez Valley winemakers have embraced. There is no official definition, but the making of natural wine typically begins with the biodynamic cultivation of grapes. From that fruit, winemakers avoid intervention in the fermenting process by abstaining from using additives or other processing aids. Of course, the Santa Ynez Valley’s winemaking diversity extends well into the natural wine realm. Now more than a dozen creative Santa Ynez Valley winemakers are creating at least one natural wine, putting the region at the forefront of the movement and offering the region’s guests a chance at a unique wine-tasting experience.
The Santa Ynez Valley has long encouraged responsible and sustainable tourism, which are integral to retaining the Valley’s rural, small-town character and unique sense of place. Long a breadbasket of California’s Central Coast, the fresh fare served in the region’s restaurants rarely travels far from its source. A culture of sustainable farming helps nurture a farm-to-table model, and local chefs can often be found scouring the stands at the Santa Ynez Valley’s farmers’ markets for locally sourced ingredients destined to be their next culinary creation. And many of the small-production winemakers — a hallmark of the region — are dedicated to organic, sustainable, Salmon safe, biodynamic, and other sustainable farming practices.
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