By Morgan Bradley 9:34 am PST

Image credit: Lihua Zheng/New San Cai

In the hit indie film Sideways, two friends decide to venture on a road trip to California wine country, filled with iconic landscapes, delectable wines, and endless charm. This season – instead of watching a movie about someone else’s adventure –  choose to make your own memorable trip along the famously scenic Highway 101, and explore for yourself the local treasures of the Santa Ynez Valley . 

One such treasure is the small town of Buellton, which sits just 40 miles southeast of Santa Barbara. Buellton, like its neighboring towns of Ballard, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, and the Danish village of Solvang, offers a wealth of authentic small-town charm that would undoubtedly be the highlight of any trip. 

The region boasts over 30 wineries on 10,000 acres of lush vineyards, all within 15 miles of Buellton. The Mediterranean-like coastal climate, offers mildly dry summers and wet winter,, making this region the perfect environment for agriculture. In Buellton, visitors can sample the land’s world-class grape wines and local produce at one-of-a-kind wineries and restaurants.   

Image credit: Terravant Wine Company

One such example is Terravant Wine Company. Established in 2008 as a custom crush facility to help local wineries grow their business, Terravant is the perfect place to sample the regions finest selections. Today more than 20 vineyards and wine brands make their wine at this facility, producing over 300,000 cases of premium, luxury, and boutique wines every year.

At Terravant Winery and Restaurant, one might begin their meal with bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese, and jumbo lump crab macaroni with a five-cheese blend. Perhaps they may then decide to sample a pear and prosciutto flat-bread pizza, topped with seasonal pear, Berkshire heirloom prosciutto, truffle oil, gorgonzola, and pomegranate reduction. Or, perhaps they might indulge in some steak au poivre, creamy parmesan curry grits, and haricot vert with a brandy mustard sauce. Whatever you decide to go with, the winery and restaurant has 52 wines available for tasting from the wine wall, making for a truly unique and individualized dining experience.

For a more local casual meal, a good choice is Pea Soup, Andersons. Located in the iconic windmill building, Pea Soup, Andersons has a Danish inspired decor and menu, and true to its name, serves what people claim to be the ‘best pea soup ever’. It is a great family spot; informal, warm and hospitable, with many food options. After your meal, definitely take a few minutes to peruse their gift shop. You can get some great gifts and memorabilia, along with a free sample of one of Andersen’s Fruit Wines.

Image credit: Lihua Zheng/New San Cai

In addition to its exceptional wine and crops, the lush Santa Ynez Valley is home to an abundance of horse and cattle ranches. Miniature horses, longhorn cattle, llamas, emus, ostriches, and mules are all raised across the picturesque rolling hills. 

At Return to Freedom, a non-profit wild horse sanctuary, you can see hundreds of wild horses and burros in their natural setting. Return to Freedom is dedicated to the protection and preservation of America’s wild horse herd. The non-profit offers events, workshops, tours, children’s programs, and volunteer activities. 

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, check out one of the excellent horse riding options available for both adults and kids. The family owned Nojoqui Ranch, for example, offers visitors’ miles of breathtaking trails to explore on horseback. There’s also Vino Vaqueros, which offers private 90-minute rides through Estelle ranch and vineyards. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff will lead you on a truly unforgettable experience. You can even end your ride with a tasty glass of Estelle Vineyard wine.

Image credit: Lihua Zheng/New San Cai

After an exciting day immersed in nature, join the Buellton locals for a comedy night at the club, or sunset beer at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. during Happy Hour. The indoor and outdoor table seating offers a deck that overlooks the brewing facility. 

Alternatively, catch a show at the PCPA Pacific Conservatory Theatre, presenting exemplary performances, and providing excellent training with a resident company of theatre professionals for over 50 years. With new plays every month, check their website for ticket information.

So this season, turn off the TV and put down the popcorn. You’re next adventure is right around the corner! And with so much to offer, it’s safe to say that after a visit in Buellton, you might just decide to never leave.