CA - Santa Barbara / Ventura • CA - Los Angeles • CA - San Diego
Sunstone, a boutique winery named after the vineyard estate’s exposed sun-dappled shale and stones, is the premiere destination winery on the central coast. Located just 30-minutes north of Santa Barbara most visitors would agree, Sunstone is the most beautiful vineyard and winery tasting room on California’s Central Coast. And because locals know best, Sunstone has been honored many times over by the Santa Barbara Independent reader poll as “Santa Barbara’s Favorite Red Wine” and “Best Santa Ynez Valley Tasting Room”.
The site of the winery tasting room was originally a horse barn, which was seriously damaged when an oak tree fell on it after heavy rains and winds. Thanks to that storm, and the visionary, collaborative design and building skills of Fred and Linda Rice, Sunstone was built and opened in 1994. A gorgeous destination winery, Sunstone is considered by many to be one of the most attractive tasting rooms in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Aromas of French lavender and rosemary greet visitors as they approach the winery’s inviting courtyards, expansive picnic grounds and tasting room, … a beautiful place to experience beautiful wines. The winery architecture recalls rustic homes and barns in the Provencal countryside, and the relaxed ambiance in the tasting room includes a kitchen complete with wood-burning oven, and 5,000 square feet of stone barrel-aging caves built into the hillside. Winemaker dinners and other special events are held in the tasting room, caves, and courtyard year-round.
On a trip to France, Fred and Linda discovered reclamation yards containing architectural remains of buildings in towns and humble villages in various regions of France, including Marseille and Provence, from which the artifacts were incorporated into the Villa. Forty-five 40,000-pound containers arrived on the Santa Ynez hilltop just off Refugio Road from 2001-2003.
Reclaimed materials, such as French limestone, hand-formed roof tiles, a fireplace from the Bordeaux region of France, enormous hand-hewn pine beams from Queen Victoria’s lavender factory, a prison cell door from Normandy constructed during Napoleon’s reign, and a thousand-year old limestone kitchen sink were all incorporated into their dream building. Walking through the Villa is an opportunity to see and touch pieces of history.
The Villa has five suites, each with private entrances and a view of the Santa Ynez mountains and Sunstone vineyards. A bit of moss is beginning to grow on the stone at the foot of the front door. Nature is putting its own mark on the Villa, as was intended. Fred and Linda Rice designed and built a house from which to watch the four seasons that will become even more beautiful with age, a living piece of history. The Villa at Sunstone now serves as an extension of the Sunstone Winery lifestyle by providing a culinary center to entertain guests for intimate gatherings, small weddings, winemaker dinners and private culinary retreats.