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The Santa Ynez Valley Filled with Holiday Cheer

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The wine country of California’s Central Coast will be as festive as ever, even if it looks a bit different this year

(SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif.) — The Santa Ynez Valley has long been a bastion of holiday cheer, and the wine country of Santa Barbara County, California has no intention of ending that tradition now. The holidays will look a little different this year, but the opportunities to create your own adventure — to shop locally, take in the holiday lights, celebrate the season on a self-directed holiday wine walk, or stroll the famed Danish bakeries of Solvang — are just as fruitful as ever.

Solvang, the setting for the new Lifetime Christmas movie “A Very Charming Christmas Town,” as well as the other five communities of the Santa Ynez Valley, have made a habit of offering Christmas cheer. The events calendar may be lighter than in previous years, but the joyfulness of the season has returned. And that has never felt more welcome.

“The entire community has pitched in to think deeply about how to protect our community and our guests while still offering the holiday cheer the region is so known for,” said Shelby Sim, president and CEO of Visit Santa Ynez Valley. “The result is a return of these uniquely Santa Ynez Valley celebrations in a way that is fitting for our times while preserving the authentic and charming nature of these experiences. This has always been a favorite time of year, and I think the whole community is excited to welcome the return of the joyous atmosphere for which the Santa Ynez Valley is known.” 

Think of the holiday season in the Santa Ynez Valley, and Julefest (pronounced yule-fest) often comes to mind. Solvang’s month-long holiday celebration, which has made the Danish-American hamlet one of the “Most Christmassy Towns in America,” will again light up the region, albeit a bit differently than in years past. And with more than 100 wineries and a prolific farm-to-table culinary scene — an easy two-hour drive north of Los Angeles — the Santa Ynez Valley has always offered a welcome escape regardless of the time of year.

What’s to do this holiday season? The following is an idea for a holiday adventure in the Santa Ynez Valley:

A bakery stroll in Solvang — Perhaps none of Solvang’s Danish-American traditions are more beloved than its Danish bakeries, making it a perfect way to start the day. From aebleskivers to a delicate kringle to Christmas-time favorites such as risalamande, Solvang’s bakeries offer one sweet and delicious experience after another, particularly during the holiday season. Visit one or try to visit them all. Add a hot cocoa or cup of coffee, and festive feelings will surely follow. 

Find something special for those you love: Far away from the big box stores and chains of larger cities, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to more than 200 independent and family-owned boutiques. Here, holiday shopping is certainly an adventure as you search for something truly special among the wares, jewelry, apparel and crafts of local artisans. J. WoesteGlobal GardensLos Olivos General StoreAvec MoiForage FloralsSanta Ynez General, and Plenty Boutique are but a few of the boutiques where you will find that perfect gift. 

Wine Walk in Los Olivos: What would an afternoon in wine country be without some wine tasting? Among the boutiques and galleries of downtown Los Olivos are more than 30 tasting rooms, most set in picturesque Victorian-style buildings lit up for the holidays. Stops could include Story of SoilSolminerBarbieriZinke WineArtiste Winery, and so many more. And just a short drive from downtown is Foxen Canyon Road, home to the famed Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.

The lights of the holidays: As day turns to night, the holiday lights of the Santa Ynez Valley will shine. Tour downtown Solvang or Los Olivos, which will both be decking the streets with a holiday light display all through town. Don’t forget to visit the Christmas tree in Santa Ynez, the tallest in the region. Even the famed windmill on Alisal Road in downtown Solvang will be lit up in holiday cheer — a first in the landmark’s history.

For more information, or to research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary, visit visitsyv.com.

About the Santa Ynez Valley:

Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to six distinct towns each with their own culture, vibe and menu of experiences. Blanketed with fruitful farms and vineyards, the California Central Coast wine region’s temperate weather allows for year-round activities of all sorts, spread throughout the historical communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. Destination dining and world-class wines await, accompanied by lodging at every level, all painted into atmospheric backdrops which colorfully mesh Old World and Old West. Visit more than 100 wineries, feast on chef-driven cuisine, and enjoy festive events and design details from Victorian-era to mid-century to modern Danish. For more information, including a listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and events, go to VisitSYV.com.

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