Sommelier Eric Railsback loves wine so much that even before he was of legal drinking age he was trying to stock up on Burgundy. Cut to now when he’s 29, and he’s made a name for himself not just in the wine world as a protege of Rajat Parr and one of Food & Wine‘s 2014 Sommeliers of the Year but as a co-owner of Santa Barbara’s celebrated Les Marchands Wine Bar and Merchant and Vallin Wine with Master Sommelier Brian McClintic.
I got a chance to chat with Eric for my first Los Angeles Magazine Liquid LA piece on** “The 5 Santa Barbara Wines You Need To Try Now”** and also ask him about must-visit places in SB to do wine. Now, he’s already come up with a list for _Food & Wine_ on where you can leisurely drink wine in the beachside town but what if you’re just passing through or only staying a day? Surprisingly, Eric’s picks don’t include the Urban Wine Trail or Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, but rather take you an hour north of the city.
“If you’re just packing it really tight, I would suggest going up to Lompoc. The Lompoc Wine Ghetto there is where some of my favorite guys are all right next to each other. So you can hit Tyler, Vallin, Sandhi, there’s six or seven other wineries up there, too. You can really hit a lot of wineries but a higher quality. Los Olivos is a super gorgeous town, old school and it’s fun to walk around but the quality of a lot of the tasting rooms is not as strong as Lompoc’s.”
And for food, Eric says that although there isn’t really a restaurant scene in Lompoc, “there’s a lot of really good Mexican food. Suvan’s Kitchen is a really killer Thai restaurant up there. So gets some ethnic food and do some tastings!”
How’s that for insider tips?