Santa Barbara County is a wine region that we are big fans of for a variety of reasons. Wineries there are producing world-class wines that are terrific value (comparative to other, better known regions), not to mention it’s still a relatively undiscovered area making it particularly fun and accessible to wine enthusiasts. So when we were asked to review Exotic Wine Travel’s latest wine book Sipping Santa Barbara: Recommended Wines & Producers we accepted the offer with great interest and fairly high expectations.
We have reviewed several books to date ranging from historical books about Champagne to fictional novels where wine regions form the backdrop of the story. What immediately stood out for us when reading Sipping Santa Barbara is its functionality. At AdVINEtures, we’re not just wine geeks, we’re also avid travellers. We build our holidays around visiting wine regions and one of the greatest challenges we face when planning a visit to a region we are unfamiliar with is narrowing down which wineries to visit, which restaurants not to miss and the type of hidden gems that usually only locals seem to know.
Authors Charine Tan and Dr. Matthew Horkey are no strangers to books about wine. This is their third publication and their second in a series of wine books they plan to publish. They are very deliberate in what they are trying to achieve with Sipping Santa Barbara, “this book is meant to be a practical guide, designed for people who enjoy wine either casually or with great curiosity and vigor. The most common problem encountered by wine lovers when visiting a new region is how to spend their limited time sifting through all the wines and producers.”
Case in point, Santa Barbara County has more than 200 wineries, 55 grape varieties and 6 different AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas). With the average visitor typically spending just 3-4 days in the area, narrowing down which of the 200+ wineries to visit can not only be overwhelming but also require quite a bit of time to research prior to departure. Sipping Santa Barbara has literally taken the guesswork out of the equation. The research has not only been done for you, it’s also been broken down into an easily digestible format that can be read in one sitting or regularly referenced at a quick glance. It provides a background of each AVA, the grape varieties grown, and a full list of wineries highlighting the wines they produce as well as the winery’s signature style.
As relatively frequent visitors to Santa Barbara County, we were thoroughly impressed by the comprehensive nature of the material without it being tedious. The information provided on the AVAs and each winery is extensive and their recommendations are personal and thoughtful. Despite our familiarity with Santa Barbara County we noted some great suggestions that definitely piqued our interest for our next visit. Without a doubt Tan & Horkey have tapped into a winning formula making their book both practical and informative to both the wine enthusiast and the serious oenophile.
[Sipping Santa Barbara: Recommended Wines & Producers sells for USD$6.99 & can be purchased here]