Romantic Wineries on California's Central Coast

There are literally hundreds of award-winning wineries dotted along Southern California’s Central Coast. Wedding planners tout vineyards as some of the most romantic places for nuptials and proposals. The combination of a temperate climate, gorgeous settings and of course, tastings of prime varietals and vintages, add to the magic. Below are some of the most atmospheric from a plethora of choices.

Sunstone Winery, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County

125 N. Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, California, 805-688-9463. Hours: 10am-4:30pm daily.

Repeatedly voted as the best winery by local polls and publications for a combination of remarkable, organically grown wines (Merlots, Sauvignon Blancs, Viogniers) and a knowledgeable staff, Sunstone Winery’s landscape design blends remarkably well with the earthy, Provence-like landscape of its surroundings. Sunstone’s most romantic aspect is its Cuvee Cave. Entered through the winery’s barrel-aging hallway, the Cave can be rented for private dining for up to 72 people inside. For the public proposal in front of family and friends, the Cuvee Cave is ideal. Lit by golden light, the Cave features a wood-burning fireplace and nine, tiered chandeliers that will bathe your loved one in an angelic glow when she blushes and says yes. For a more private proposal, Sunstone Winery’s picnic area overlooks surrounding mountains, valleys and gorges and is a perfect, intimate setting.

Bridlewood Estate Winery, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County

3555 Roblar Avenue, Santa Ynez, California, 805-688-9000, ext 216. Hours: 10am-5pm daily. Carriage tours, 11am-3pm, weekends only, weather permitting; $5 per person.

For lovers of all things equine, this former Arabian horse ranch and working horse farm – hence the name – on 105 lush acres, fits the bill more than adequately. What better place to say, “be mine” than on one of the winery’s weekend-only horse-drawn carriage tours? The estate resembles a California Mission, with red tile roofs, a bell tower, a courtyard fountain, large shade trees, and a picnic area. Toast to the future with one of the seven Syrah wines, named after western themes, including “Dusty Trails” and “Six Gun” in the high-ceilinged tasting room afterwards.

Lincourt Vineyards, Solvang, California, Santa Barbara County

1711 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, 805-688-8554. Hours: 10am-5pm daily.

Transformed from a dairy farm into a winery in 1996, Lincourt Vineyards’ romantic appeal lies in its nostalgia factor. A cheery yellow 1926 Sears Craftsman kit home houses the tasting room. The old milking barns have been transformed into the winery and barrel room. Set on 30 acres, shaded from the hot Solvang summer sun by pepper trees, lovers can toast to the future with some prize-winning 2005 Pinot Noir on the porch or at tables in the hillside garden with an expansive vineyard view below.

Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, Arroyo Grande, California, San Luis Obispo County

453 Laetitia Vineyard Dr., Arroyo Grande, California, 805-481-1772. Hours: 11am-5pm daily.

Whether Dom Perignon, the supposed inventor of sparkling wine, yelled “Come quickly, I am tasting stars!” or not, that is an apt description of the first sip of bubbly. For lovers with stars in their eyes, and only for each other, Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, located in Arroyo Grande, near Edna Valley and halfway between Santa Ynez and Paso Robles wine areas, offers sparkling wine tastings. It is one of the only sparkling wine producers on the Central Coast with French roots. The original winery, Maison Deutz, was owned by a Frenchman. Laetitia, which means joy and happiness in Latin, provides ocean views from Adirondack chairs on its patio to enjoy both.