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With 27 Wineries, New Bars and Restaurants, and a Gorgeous Luxury Hotel

By: Maya Kachroo-Levine
Published on August 22, 2023

Los Olivos, in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, has a winery every .01 square miles — and the chef behind a nearby Michelin-starred restaurant recently opened a bar and another restaurant in town.


Los Olivos doesn’t wake up before 6 a.m. This year, when the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection, opened with a cafe that started pulling espresso shots at 6 every morning, the hours of Felix Coffee Shop were the talk of the town. Or, more accurately, the talk of the 2.5-square-mile unincorporated community in California’s Santa Ynez Valley.

There are 27 wineries in Los Olivos, which means you’re looking at a tasting room every .01 square mile. But don’t worry, you won’t be driving. The main drag of Los Olivos — Grand Avenue — is two blocks from the new hotel. And to help travelers soak up the wine — mostly pinot noirs and chardonnays marinating in the valley’s cool microclimates — are a few fantastic new restaurants, which landed Los Olivos the title of Travel + Leisure’s very first best food and culture town in the U.S.

The chef putting Los Olivos on the culinary map is Santa Ynez Valley native Daisy Ryan. The James Beard Award nominee opened now-Michelin-starred Bell’s, in nearby Los Alamos, with her husband, Greg Ryan, five years ago. Then, they took on Los Olivos. In the last two years, the Ryans brought the new Bar Le Côte, a moody seafood restaurant stumbling distance from the wineries, and The Other Room, a beer hall, to Los Olivos.

“To see, over the last five years, the attention now being paid to this area, we’re humbled by it every day,” she says. “It feels very cool to come home to the place that raised me and create some awareness about what’s so incredible about this place.”

Chef Daisy Ryan

Here, everything you need to know about Los Olivos — the food, the culture, and what makes it one of America’s best small towns.

Food and Culture

It wasn’t the wineries that put Los Olivos on our radar; it was The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Bar Le Côte, The Other Room, and Gin’s. The wave of talent putting permanent roots down in Los Olivos is frankly astounding — with Auberge Resorts Collection, one of the best hotel names in California luxury, and Ryan, who is one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2020 and an alum of NYC fine-dining haunts, like Per Se and Gramercy Tavern.

As Ermoni Best, the sommelier at Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, previously told T+L, “They say this place is like Napa 50 years ago.” It won’t become Napa, of course. The enclave is small enough to ensure Los Olivos never balloons to that extent — and no one in this town wants a slew of five-star hotels, Michelin three-starred restaurants, and castle wineries. Still, go now, to eat and drink and wander and laze before too many people find out about this 2.5-square-mile town in central California.

The Best Times to Visit


There isn’t a bad time to visit Los Olivos, but the best weather is in the spring and fall. The hottest month is August and it’s coolest from December to March. Spring brings breezy weather in the 70s and rosé season — i.e., when most vineyards release their new rosés. Danielle Laudon Ruse, VP of marketing for Santa Ynez Valley, favors fall. It’s when “wine lovers get to experience a little harvest magic and watch the leaves change in the vineyards,” she says. “The weather is still wonderfully warm in the daytime while the evenings offer a nice cool down, so alfresco dining is still very much a thing as the season changes.”

Laudon Ruse also notes Taste of Santa Ynez Valley takes place every fall — from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 this year, including a “multi-chef, multi-course dinner served at lengthy communal tables on the lawn of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern,” she adds.


Things to Do

Drink Wine.

“For so long, when you heard California wine country, your mind went to Napa and Sonoma,” Ryan says. “Of course, people are aware of Santa Barbara County wines, but I think more and more people are realizing it’s not just the younger sibling wine area — that, instead, the wines produced here are world-class, incredibly interesting, innovative, and well-crafted.” In addition to the 27 wineries in town, there are tasting rooms and vineyards littered throughout the Santa Ynez Valley. Inn at Mattei’s Tavern even has a Meet the Maker program, where guests can tour vineyards and taste wine with the vineyards’ proprietors and winemakers.

Shop Local

The name of the game in Los Olivos is locally owned businesses, whether you’re shopping for clothes, homewares, or wine. Find our shopping recs below.

Where to Stay

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern first opened in 1886 as the seven-room Central Hotel, an overnight for those riding the Pacific Coast Railroad. In April 2023, it reopened as an Auberge Resorts Collection hotel, but the 64-room resort still celebrates the past. When guests check in for dinner at The Tavern, they’ll do so in the stage office where Felix and Lucy Mattei, the original owners, used to receive guests. When Felix — yes, that coffee shop that opens at 6 a.m. is named after him — and Lucy wanted to expand the kitchen, in the 1910s, they brought on Gin Luang Gin. Now, there’s an alfresco bar, painted a pristine white, just opposite a cedar barn and a red-roofed water tower, named Gin’s — serving pan-Asian snacks and local wine on tap.

Where to Eat and Drink

Stolpman Vineyards

Of all the Los Olivos and Santa Ynez wineries, Stolpman Vineyards has made perhaps the biggest national splash. Stolpman’s small-batch natural wine includes a well-known carbonic sangiovese called Love You Bunches, plus a fun chenin blanc pet’nat, both of which you can try at Stolpman Fresh Garage along with the vineyard’s — let’s just say it — hipper, new-age wines. Sample Stolpman’s estate wines — think: syrah, roussanne, grenache — at the patio next door to Fresh Garage.

The Other Room

“It was something we’ve always wanted to do,” Ryan says of The Other Room, a beer and wine bar she and Greg opened in 2022. She and Greg frequent The Back Room, in Solvang — “we’re big beer drinkers” — and opened The Other Room in response. “We just wanted to open a place where we’d want to go have a beer or a glass of wine. We also really focus on having wine from other places, since, of course, the tasting rooms are focused on local wines,” she concludes. Worth noting: it’s open on Tuesday, a rarity in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Bar Le Côte

Bar Le Côte, which the Ryans opened in 2021, is a cozy, California-cool seafood restaurant in the heart of town. Poppy art lines the bright green and white walls, local produce informs the menu (the olive oil cake is using strawberries from nearby Finley Farms this summer), and, in true California fashion, they’re serving Santa Barbara urchin and Tomales Bay oysters.


Story of Soil

Here’s a very fun fact about the Santa Ynez Valley wineries: the number that are women owned is significantly higher than the national average. (“Santa Barbara County boasts more women winemakers per capita than most other regions in the world — nearly double the national average of 10 percent,” reports Visit Santa Ynez Valley.) Story of Soil is one such winery in town, owned by winemaker Jessica Gasca. The tasting room is just as delicious and inviting as the syrah, pinot noir, and sauv blanc Gasca makes.

Where to Shop

Los Olivos General Store

A fixture in the center of town, Los Olivos General Store has every California-cozy knick knack imaginable. Come for the candles and the pottery, stay for the local kitchen accoutrements, like blood orange olive oil from Los Olivos Olive Oil Company and Santa Ynez sage blossom honey.


Avec Moi Decor

Do you ever wonder how folks in Los Angeles look like they just sauntered out of a magazine cover shoot in a Nancy Meyers–approved outfit? The secret is shopping at places like Avec Moi Decor on cheeky weekends away.

How to Get There

The closest airport to Los Olivos is the Santa Barbara Airport, which is a 40-minute drive. You can also easily get to Los Olivos from Los Angeles; fly into LAX and drive the two-and-a-half hours (130 miles) north. If you’re planning a coastal drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco (or San Francisco to Los Angeles), Los Olivos is an easy stop; after a scenic drive to Santa Barbara on CA-1, road trippers can cut inland, visit Los Olivos, and then head back to the coast, picking up Highway 1 in Pismo Beach.

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AVA Properties

Joe Ramos
Vineyard & Winery Specialist
T: (805) 680-6849
E: [email protected]
DRE 02040488

Jamie Warm
Vineyard & Winery Specialist
T: (707) 380-3188
E: [email protected]
DRE 02192518