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For those of you who wish to escape the intensity of the city and enjoy a quieter, more relaxed, simpler life with a graceful pace reminiscent of the 1950’s, the magnificent Santa Ynez Valley, in California’s Santa Barbara Wine Country, is the place for you.   We asked some of the top luxury real estate marketing professionals in the area to tell us what they loved about their marketplace. Here is what they said. (Be sure to click on the agents' names to view their Featured Properties)

The approach to Santa Ynez Valley from Santa Barbara via Route 154 is breathtaking! As you descend into the Valley from the Sam Marcos Pass in the mountains, to your right is the grand Lake Cachuma that hosted the canoeing and rowing events of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.  According to Marilyn Elam, numerous clients have told her, when they first arrived in the Valley, “I thought I would have to go to Idaho or Big Sky Montana to find such expansive untouched physical beauty".

Lake Cachuma

Some of California’s finest equestrian estates, private farms and ranches can be found in the Santa Ynez Valley. Many estates have their own vineyards. Claire Hanssen said, “With our ideal climate, many people are attracted to the Valley simply because they can grow their own sustainable produce, or their own feed for horses or cattle”.  

“Tourism has allowed the wine industry to flourish in the area”, says Rich Condit.  “It also helps to have many fine restaurants in the area such as Vineyard House (regional rustic American cuisine in a charming 100 year old Victorian home), Grappolo (Italian), Petros (Greek) and The Brothers at Mattie’s Tavern that is housed in one of Santa Barbara Wine Country’s most cherished buildings”.  Located in Downtown, Solvang, Root 246 was created by the world-renowned celebrity chef, Bradley Ogden. It offers a full menu of his signature farm-to-table cuisine, and one of the most extensive selections of local wines.

Many of the California Central Coast wines rival the best of Napa and Sonoma, to the North, above San Francisco. If you like guided tours, you can follow the wine trail that features the wineries in the movie "Sideways" or just explore on your own.  For example, Laura Drammer pointed out that Kaena Winery is opening a new tasting room in Los Olivos.  They produce just 500 cases each year, focusing on Grenache and Syrah wines. In Hawaiian Kaena means “potential for greatness”.

According to Carey Kendall, “international buyers compare the topography of the Santa Ynez Valley to parts of Northern Italy and Southern France and appreciate its proximity to Santa Barbara, ‘the jewel of the West Coast’ (also known as the ‘American Riviera’)”.  Sharon Curries is seeing an upswing in interest from foreign buyers, “particularly from Canada, Spain and Malaysia”, she said.

Suzy Ealand believes that, “The wide open space and the temporal climate is conducive to easy living here with less chaos than larger towns.  The Valley provides a smaller community feel where everyone can know each other”. Yet, Santa Ynez Valley is a place where privacy is respected, a place where the rich and famous can live and enjoy the country lifestyle without the fanfare of the big city.

The schools in the Santa Ynez Valley are among the top in the County. And, they are safe. Marlene MacBeth, a resident for 32 years who partners with her husband Dave, mentioned that it was a great place to raise her family. “Living here is a throwback to pre-9/11 days; kids still walk home from school or ride their bikes. They get individual attention and parent involvement in schools is extensive”. Micah Brady, the younger half of a father & son real estate team, grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley.   He said, “The classes are smaller; it is like being in a private school”.  

Thirty minutes from the Santa Barbara Airport and just two hours north of Los Angeles International Airport, this “hamlet in the hills”, as Patty Murphy refers to it, “is a cosmopolitan village with its roots in the soil”.  Whether it is farming, growing apples, ranching, producing your own wine or sending your kids to great schools that draw you to the Santa Ynez Valley to live, ultimately, it is the quality of life and sense of genuine community that will make you feel like this is home.