Vacation Santa Barbara – Carr Vineyards and Winery

by David Donalson    

When going on vacations, my first instinct is to look up the local food and wine scene and make my plans from there. When my wife and I decided to go to the temperate Santa Barbara, I was immediately reminded of the movie “Sideways” and their search for Pinot Noir in the Santa Barbara County. In my research, Carr Winery was high on the lists of boutique Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc so off we went.

Not to make every person jealous but we decided to ride bikes to the local wineries, enjoying the cool Pacific breeze and a little exercise. Trust me, I wish I was back there now with these 90 degree nights. After a short bike ride from the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort right along the beach, we arrived at Carr Vineyards and Winery.    

I was told from several friends that if a winery has a dog that lives on site, it is a good sign. With that being said, meet Roxy Carr, the sweet little dog that loves the sun and weather as much as we did. Her favorite thing to do when people walked in was to greet them at the door, sniff, and then head outside to lay in the sun. My kind of dog!

With Roxy by my side, I knew this was going to be a great stop and I was not disappointed. We started with a fairly good Pinot Gris and a really good Pinot Noir Rose that I won’t talk about because they sold out of it right in front of me. I literally had the last of their last bottle as a couple of ladies bought the last bottle when we were tasting. Obviously it was a well made, dry style rose similar to the dry French roses of Provence. It was at this point we started tasting their Pinots.

There were three Pinots available for tasting, the 2009 Santa Barbara Pinot, the 2008 Sta. Rita Hills “Three Vineyards” and the 2008 Sta. Rita Hills “The Yard”. The Santa Barbara Pinot was your typical Santa Barbara Pinot, loaded with sweet red cherries, strawberries and just hints of earth and herbs. The best thing about this Pinot was taking it back to the hotel room in a growler for future enjoyment. The Sta. Rita Hills were much more complex and well structured, with the “Three Vineyards” featuring additional flavors of black chai tea, raspberries and cola while “The Yard” was more Burgundian in style, focusing on more dried floral notes (think potpourri and wilted rose) with much lighter red fruit notes. Both were delicious and a major reason for this review.

Santa Barbara is best known for Pinot Noir and Syrah wines so it was not surprising to see a couple of Syrahs hit the tasting, their 2006 Santa Barbara Syrah and the 2007 Santa Ynez Valley “Morehouse Vineyard”. Both were fairly juicy, straight-forward California Syrah with just hints of tea, mixed berries and light earth components. Good values for Syrah but I came here to taste Cabernet Franc and that was my last taste.

The 2008 Santa Ynez Cabernet Franc is a rich and luscious wine. Cabernet Franc is lighter in style than Cabernet Sauvignon but that does not mean it cannot pack a punch. This wine was a red satin dress, flowing with fresh Bing cherries, ripe strawberries, and red currants, perfumed with strong floral notes (fresh roses, violets and lavenders) and a hint of chocolate to round out the flavors. It was so good I was trying to figure out how many bottles I could sneak into my luggage to avoid paying too much extra.

As I asked Jessica Carr, one of the tasting directors at the winery, about where I could find Carr in Dallas, I was told that they did not currently have a distributor and were looking to move back into Dallas asap. While this unfortunately means we cannot find these beautiful wines right now, efforts are being made to bring them back. Hopefully it is soon, I cannot stop thinking of the Cabernet Franc.



Filed under Crave, David Donalson, Travel, Wine

7 responses to “Vacation Santa Barbara – Carr Vineyards and Winery

  1. I’m a wine lover who lives In Santa Barbara. There are lots of great wine tasting rooms on the “Urban Wine Trail,” and Carr is my favorite. I like the fact that it’s an actual urban winery, not just a tasting room, and the quonset hut it’s housed in is funky and surprisingly cozy on the inside–and I like the interesting mix of very good wines they make.

  2. Wine tasting is the essence of Santa Barbara. You can’t go there and not go and try it all out! Santa Ynez is great for it but so is downtown Santa Barbara. I’ve been to the Carr winery and it was a great time! I enjoy staying in town though and close to all of the action that SB has to offer. A great hotel is the Sandman Inn ( So budget friendly and the perfect place to spend a few days off!

  3. Wine tasting is absolutely necessary when visiting Santa Barbara. So many wonderful options and places to choose from, how could you not! Downtown Santa Barbara is a plethora of good restaurants and wine shops, I totally recommend it. I also recommend the South Coast Inn ( So elegant and the perfect place to escape all of the chaos of downtown!

  4. Santa Barbara is the best place to go to for some much needed rest and peace. Wine tasting in the area is delectable as well as worth it! I’ve been a few times and the experience is worth every penny. A great place to stay that is close to the wineries as well as away from the bussle of downtown is the South Coast Inn ( So lovely and the best place to call home while on vacation.

  5. WIne tasting in Santa Barbara is one great experience that any one interested in wine or thinking they might like it, should try! I’ve gone several times and it is one of my favorite things to do! It is so undeniably gorgeous there and biking the vineyards on a sunny day and grabbing a quick bite to eat at an adorable restaurant with a bottle of pinot is the way to go while there. The Sandman Inn ( is the way to go if you want to be close to the orchards and the beach and so cheap too!

  6. Wine tasting is probably the best thing to do when in Santa Barbara- wine for days! And it is simply delicious. The hills of Santa Barbara remind me of Tuscany and my time spent in Florence, so it is always a good reminder of Europa! Great place to travel to, I cannot boast enough about it. The South Coast Inn ( is easy and classic, I highly recommend it!

  7. This is one of the best things you could do while in Santa Barbara. Beautiful mountains, miles of beach, and the wine is endless. I have spent a good amount of time there and I have to say, it is my favorite place to wine taste. I haven’t been to this particular orchard but hopefully the next time I am in town, I can find a way to go! I love staying at the Sandman Inn ( Cheap and allows for a lot of great wine tasting since I save so much money on my hotel each time I go.

Leave a Reply