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By Jessica Flint Follow | Photographs by Lisa Corson for The Wall Street Journal Dec. 15, 2022 9:00 am ET

Santa Ynez in California’s Santa Barbara County draws people for its open space, expansive views and large acreage. ‘You’re looking at 5 to 100 acres.’

California’s Santa Ynez Valley is the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country. It is located about 125 miles up the Pacific Ocean coast from Los Angeles and 35 miles inland from Santa Barbara’s beaches. The valley consists of six communities, one of which is Santa Ynez, whose ZIP Code 93460 has the priciest wine-country residential real estate in the U.S., according to (News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates under license from the National Association of Realtors.) Santa Ynez is a sophisticated cowboy town with a population of 4,505, according to census data. People gravitate to the area for its open spaces, wide views and big lots, where ranch land, equestrian estates and vineyard properties are set alongside a lively wine-and-food scene throughout the valley. 

Downtown Santa Ynez
The upscale Old Western downtown has shops, restaurants and saloons behind 1880s-era facades.
S.Y. Kitchen
Executive Chef Luca Crestanelli and Chef di Cucina Francesco Crestanelli, brothers who grew up in Italy, run a farmhouse-style restaurant, opened in 2013. In 2020, Luca Crestanelli and Chef di Cucina Marco Longinotti launched Nella Kitchen & Bar in the nearby town of Los Olivos.
Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn
Matt and Jeff Nichols opened one of the top steakhouses in the valley in 2013.
Santa Ynez General
Spencer Turnbull, who grew up in Santa Ynez, opened a lifestyle shop with his husband, Pearson McGee, in 2019. They curate the store’s merchandise, which includes their brand’s line of clothing, accessories and footwear.
Cachuma Lake
The 900-acre recreational area offers boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and disc golf, in addition to camping.

Tasting Notes

There are 88 varieties of grapes grown in Santa Barbara County’s seven American Viticultural Areas. The ZIP Code 93460, where there are three AVAs and 23 grape varieties, is known for its Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The Brander Winery & Vineyard and Grassini Family Vineyards are two established vineyards in Santa Ynez. 

Event of the Year

Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley is a four-day, six-community event with wine tastings, long table dinners, lunches, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding and yoga in the vineyard. Its inaugural year was 2019. After taking a two-year Covid-19 pandemic hiatus, it was back this fall.

9.5 Million— Roughly the number of gallons of wine Santa Barbara County produces annually.

Advice for the Buyer

Santa Ynez’s luxury home market is all about acreage, says Patty Murphy, a real-estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty—Santa Ynez Valley Brokerage. Typically, “you’re looking at 5 to 100 acres,” she says. “How much acreage you want around you is determined by the lifestyle you want to have.” She likes to tell clients that locals in the area have their feet firmly planted in the soil but are also cosmopolitan. “You’re never more than a short drive from a great restaurant,” she says. 

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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