1) The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail is reinventing itself in 2022
Made up of nearly 30 member wineries, many within walking distance of each other and downtown beaches, the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail was founded in 2012 and is California’s original urban wine trail. At least five new tasting rooms are opening and four other popular tasting rooms are on the move within the Santa Barbara South Coast. Highlights:
In early 2022, Kunin Wines will move to a new outdoor Funk Zone tasting room, which will specialize in natural, unfiltered wines and single vineyard wines; look for future open house art nights with neighboring art gallery Silo118. Kunin will also open a new second location downtown with a focus on sparkling wines, rosé, as well as other Kunin wines, wine education and cheese pairings in partnership with The Cheese Shop.
In summer 2022, Kunin will open its Goleta winery to the public for the first time, offering outdoor tastings and food from its new kitchen.
In mid-January 2022, Frequency Wine Co. moved to a historic courtyard encircled by exquisite Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and lush foliage in the Presidio Neighborhood.
La Lieff Wines’ first Funk Zone tasting room, featuring the handiwork of highly respected women winemakers Kris Curran and Angela Osborne, will open in early 2022.
Santa Barbara Winery and Pali Wine Co. have moved to new locations in the Funk Zone. In March 2022, Hotel Californian will open The Society, a new tasting room for the Foley Food & Wine Society, which showcases 70+ wines from the Foley Family portfolio, following the iconic luxury hotel’s recent purchase by Foley Entertainment Group, headed by Bill Foley (owner of the Vegas Golden Nights).
Valley to the Sea Winery opened in the Santa Barbara Public Market in November 2021. Owner-winemaker Jamie Savellano’s tasting room offers a sensory experiment that teaches visitors about aromas in wine, micro tastings (when just a splash will do), and red wine pairings with a three-part pizza from neighboring vendor Ca’Dario Pizzeria.
2) A bumper crop of innovative new eateries and bars are opening in Santa Barbara in 2022
Santa Barbara’s food and wine purveyors earned some serious culinary cred in 2021, with the inclusion of 13 South Coast restaurants in the Michelin Guide California and Wine Enthusiast’s declaration of Santa Barbara as the Wine Region of the Year. The F&B scene continues to gather steam, with enticing new offerings slated for 2022:
Known for mouthwatering lobster rolls, Santa Barbara sea urchin and oysters on the shell featured in past pop-ups at Municipal Winemakers, Broad Street Oyster Company opened a location in downtown Santa Barbara in January 2022.
Bedda Mia, which focuses on Sicilian cuisine, including seafood and fresh produce-forward dishes and Sicilian wines, opened in mid-February 2022. Elaine and Alberto Morello, who own the Olio e Limone eateries, are employee operators (not owners) of the State Street restaurant.
Rare Society, a “retro-swanky” steakhouse, will open a new location in the Funk Zone in spring 2022, owned by San Diego’s Trust Restaurant Group. Chef Brad Wise first fell in love with Santa Maria-style barbecue when he met his wife-to-be on a Central Coast road trip.
Oceanside dining options are expanding, with two “elevated casual” concepts opening at popular beaches: Reunion Kitchen + Drink opened on East Beach in November 2021, at the newly renovated Cabrillo Pavilion, a historic venue dating back to the 1920s. Scratch-made casual food is on the menu, from fried chicken to filet mignon. Meanwhile, SeaLegs Santa Barbara will open at Goleta Beach in summer 2022, featuring approachable California coastal cuisine, along with a separate ice cream shack.
Get ready for some healthy and heady swigging: High Seas Mead (TBD opening), Wylde Works (maker of jun kombucha and mead; February 2022) and Augie’s (a tequila bar and Mexican restaurant, from the Santa Barbara-based tequila and agave spirits maker; with architectural design by Jeff Shelton; June 2022) are opening downtown. The Manor Bar at Rosewood Miramar Beach relaunched in February 2022 and features a new menu of literary cocktails—from the smoke-tinged, bourbon-based Fahrenheit 451 to In Search of Lost Time, a Cognac cocktail as nostalgia-inducing as a Proustian madeleine.
Validation Ale, a new brewery and taproom, will open in the Funk Zone around Memorial Day. “Validated” beers will compete with new brews (including home and pro brewer submissions) for a place on the menu, keeping the offerings frothy.
The State Street Promenade—a pandemic silver lining—has revitalized the downtown corridor, with its mile-long street closure allowing restaurants, bars and pedestrians to expand into the streets. In 2022, the city is exploring ways to make it permanent.
3) Family offerings abound, from a city-wide Van Gogh celebration to outdoor play spaces
Stearns Wharf, California’s oldest wooden working wharf and an iconic destination for Santa Barbara visitors, will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a large event in October 2022, plus Wharf Wednesdays on the first Wednesday of each month, featuring special deals and fun programming such as live music at wharf businesses. Additional programs will be announced.
On January 8, 2022, Santa Barbara Zoo opened the Australian Walkabout, a 15,000 square-foot habitat designed to transport guests “Down Under,” where they can walk among the wallabies, kangaroos, emus and native birds.
From February through May 2022, a groundbreaking exhibit, “Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources,” at the newly renovated Santa Barbara Museum of Art will celebrate 20 works from the painter, as well as 75 of his visual and literary inspirations, exemplified by his 19th century artist/writer peers. A city-wide celebration will take place in March, with Van Gogh-themed programming presented across the community, including Santa Barbara’s opera, symphony, theater company and other cultural institutions. “Sunflowers on State,” a new public art exhibition featuring six 10-foot sunflower sculptures on State Street, will run from March through May 2022.
Beginning with Earth Day in April 2022, more than a dozen museums, public gardens and historic sites across Santa Barbara County will host environmentally themed exhibits and events in a first-of-its-kind collaboration. Titled “Impact: Climate Change & the Urgency of Now,” the program will run for six months, from April through September 2022 and is hosted by the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County Museums. Among the highlights:
“Whales Are Superheroes!” exhibits and events exploring the vital role of whales in minimizing impacts of climate change at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
“SuperArtificial,” a life-size garden made of upcycled plastic waste, an Innovation Wall and a Climate Change Globe displaying changing conditions around the world at MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation
“The Science of Our Changing Planet,” an exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History that explains the science behind climate change
“Take a Hike, Save the World,” an exhibit about local trails and public lands at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, plus new exhibits at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden showcasing how native plans can be solutions to the climate and biodiversity crisis
A new Earth Day Mural at Paseo Nuevo that will be revealed during the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival April 23, 2022
In June 2022, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will open The Backcountry, a 4-acre outdoor play space for kids. Located along Mission Creek, it encourages activities such as fort building, fallen log obstacle courses, waterfalls, a maze, hikes through different habitats, herb gathering and more.
On May 28, 2022, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will open Rare Earth, a new exhibit featuring exceptional gem, mineral, rock and fossil specimens and showcasing the societal, personal and historic value of these natural resources. The museum’s popular Butterflies Alive! exhibit also returns May 28 for its seasonal run through Labor Day, offering enchanting walks among live butterflies.
4) Julia Child returns to the limelight
Legendary chef/cookbook author Julia Child will be back in the limelight, with the release of documentary “Julia” (from the makers of “RGB”) in November 2021, an HBO Max comedy series “Julia” in 2022, as well as a Julia Child-themed TV cooking competition, “The Julia Child Challenge,” on the Food Network in March 2022. It might be a good time to follow in Julia’s footsteps and revisit some of her favorite places in Santa Barbara and Montecito, where she retired and spent the remainder of her days. Why was Santa Barbara beloved by Julia? It reminded her of the South of France, and she’d spent many childhood summers in the area. Map of some of Julia’s favorite Santa Barbara places, courtesy of Santa Barbara Culinary Experience: https://sbce.events/julia-child-map/
The Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, held in partnership with the Julia Child Foundation, will return May 16-22, 2022 with the Taste of Santa Barbara, featuring 20 curated culinary experiences at area restaurants, a discussion about regenerative farming and food system resilience on May 21, Santa Barbara County farm tours May 22, and more. Santa Barbara Restaurant Week is also slated to return May 16 to 22, 2022, with special deals and offers available at eateries throughout the South Coast. Three-course prix-fixe dinner menus for $25, $35 and $45 will be offered.