Vineyards along Foxen Canyon Wine Trail offer Summer Passport tastings

Photo courtesy of Muse Wine Management
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT: Riverbench Winery in Santa Maria is currently offering a complimentary wine tasting to holders of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail Summer Passport. Fifteen other tasting rooms across Santa Barbara County have similar promotions.

More than a dozen tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County have teamed up to create a passport that can be used for tasting flights rather than international flights. 

Scattered across a 30-mile stretch between Santa Maria and Los Olivos, the wineries of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail are participating in the Summer Passport 2023 program through Aug. 31. Holders of the $65 passport can take advantage of a variety of exclusive deals, including complimentary glasses of wine, two-for-one tastings, cheese offerings, charcuterie, and other discounted fare, at each destination on the vineyard-laden trail.

Here’s a roundup of the 16 tasting rooms, located in Santa Maria, Sisquoc, Los Alamos, and Los Olivos, taking part in the annual summer program.

North to south 

click to enlarge Vineyards along Foxen Canyon Wine Trail offer Summer Passport tastings
File photo courtesy of Cambria Estate Winery
TABLE FOR TWO: Guests of the tasting room at Cambria Winery in Santa Maria with a Foxen Canyon Wine Trail Summer Passport can look forward to a complimentary wine flight for two.

The northernmost point—or North Pole, minus the snow—of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is the Bien Nacido Estate, an acclaimed cool-climate vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Founded in 1973 and known for its chardonnay, pinot noir, and syrah, the estate held a ribbon-cutting for its first on-site tasting room, The Gatehouse, in May. The winery and accompanying tasting room are located at 3503 Rancho Tepusquet Road, Santa Maria.

Just a stone’s throw away from Bien Nacido is Cambria Winery and Vineyards, at 5475 Chardonnay Lane. Under the leadership of head winemaker Jill Russell, the winery has been recognized as a Santa Maria staple by wine aficionados and wine publications, including Wine Spectator, which selected Russell’s first completed vintage as one of the top 100 chardonnays in 2017. 

Another vintner located on the northern edge of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail in Santa Maria is Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery. This boutique winery is located at a 78-acre estate on 3940 Dominion Road. 

The Santa Maria Valley is also home to Riverbench Vineyard, which consists of 115 acres of pinot noir grapes and 15 acres of chardonnay grapes. Hopeful visitors of the winery’s tasting room, a restored 1920s era Craftsman style house with an outdoor patio, can find the venue at 6020 Foxen Canyon Road. 

Foxen Vineyard Winery has two sibling tasting rooms on the same stretch of road, one at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road and the other at 7200.

Speaking of siblings, Marvin and Paulette Teixeira, the founders of Tres Hermanas Vineyard and Winery, decided to name their venue after their three daughters, Stacey, Tracey, and Marcey. The Teixeira family’s winery on 9660 Foxen Canyon Road is home to a cattle ranch, barn, and tasting room and is open daily for wine tastings.

Succulent sidequests

click to enlarge Vineyards along Foxen Canyon Wine Trail offer Summer Passport tastings
Photo courtesy of Muse Wine Management
THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Foxen Canyon Wine Trail Summer Passport members who visit Andrew Murray Vineyards in Los Olivos will receive a complimentary charcuterie snack pack and can take advantage of two-for-one tastings.

Passport holders heading south along Foxen Canyon Road from the Santa Maria Valley will eventually reach a string of Los Olivos-based destinations, but not before the opportunity to turn east into Sisquoc to visit Rancho Sisquoc Winery. Primarily used as a cattle ranch during the 1950s, the venue became a winery during the 1960s, when its owners planted their first vineyards on the property, located at 6600 Foxen Canyon Road.

Guests of Rancho Sisquoc Winery can expect to find vintages of pinot noir, merlot, and other offerings. The local vintner’s 2019 Sisquoc River red is described as a blend of red fruits with subtle notes of dried herb, leather, and tobacco.

While the Sisquoc-based ranch is east of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, Dovecote Estate Winery in Los Alamos is west of the trail, at 9229 Alisos Canyon Road. Founded in 1990, Dovecote specializes in carefully concentrated cool-climate Rhone wines and is the only Los Alamos-based winery included in the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail summer passport.

Heavenly seven

click to enlarge Vineyards along Foxen Canyon Wine Trail offer Summer Passport tastings
Photo courtesy of Muse Wine Management
VINEYARD VIEWS: Visitors of the Gatehouse at Bien Nacido can enjoy views of the estate’s sprawling vineyards during their wine tastings. The venue is offering a complimentary cheese plate with the purchase of two tasting flights to Summer Passport members.

Synonymous with imagery of painterly olive orchards and vineyard views, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to nearly half of the tasting rooms—seven of the 16—participating in the summer passport promotion. 

In Los Olivos, Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards offers its wine tastings in a picnic table patio setting shaded by oak trees that overlooks the San Rafael Mountains. The winery is located at 6905 Foxen Canyon Road.

The site of Demetria Estate Winery, at 6701 Foxen Canyon Road, was chosen by vintner John Zahoudanis because he was captivated by the Los Olivos property’s idyllic setting, similar to the olive farm he grew up on near Mount Olympus in Greece, according to the winery’s website.

Regarded as the first estate winery established in Santa Barbara County, Firestone Vineyard in Los Olivos encompasses 325 acres of sustainably grown grapes and hosts wine tasting and other types of guest experiences on-site at the vineyard, located at 5017 Zaca Station Road.

Other iconic wineries located in Los Olivos along the Foxen Canyon Trail include the Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard, at 6200 Foxen Canyon Road; Koehler Winery, at 5360 Foxen Canyon Road; Andrew Murray Vineyards, at 5249 Foxen Canyon Road; and Petros Winery, on 3360 Foxen Canyon Road.

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is hitting the wine trail. Send charcuterie boxes to [email protected].

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