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Ditch the car: Take a trolley to Santa Maria wine country instead

The Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley will run on weekends from May 27 to Sept. 4, allowing people to explore Santa Maria wine country.
The Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley will run on weekends from May 27 to Sept. 4, allowing people to explore Santa Maria wine country.

A new wine trolley will allow people to explore Santa Maria wine country this summer while leaving the car behind.

The Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley will run on weekends from May 27 to Sept. 4, taking riders between downtown, three valley wineries and two spots in Old Orcutt. The trolley will run the route every 70 minutes, allowing people to hop on and off at stops as they choose. The cost is $10 if bought in advance, $18 when purchased at the trolley, and does not include tasting fees.

“This is a uniquely exciting and affordable way to explore our world-class wine country,” said Jennifer Harrison, director of the Santa Maria Valley Visitor & Convention Bureau, which partnered with the city of Santa Maria and the Chamber of Commerce on the trolley service. “You get to head into the vineyards to taste local wines, and on your way back, you can also stop in Old Town Orcutt to enjoy fine dining, local craft beer, shopping and more — all while experiencing the charm of riding a trolley.”

The 28-passenger trolley was purchased by the city a couple years ago to shuttle shoppers around the downtown. But it didn’t get the ridership officials were hoping for, so they decided to pilot the wine trolley concept.

“It makes it easy for locals and visitors to get out and see our wine country,” Chamber President and CEO Glenn Morris said. “There’s the convenience factor and also discovery for people who may not know their way around.”

They aren’t planning on generating revenue from the concept, at least so far. If every ticket for the summer service sells, the service will just break even, said Morris, adding that officials hope area hotels will bundle trolley tickets into some of their packages.

Depending on ridership, officials may decide to expand the service year-round, to additional days or stops at additional wineries.

The trolley, which allows children but not open alcohol, begins its route at 11 a.m. at Town Center West by the pedestrian bridge on the west side of Broadway near the intersection with Main Street. Hop on there, and it’s a quick trip to Costa De Oro’s tasting room along Highway 101.

Sample the winery’s estate chardonnay and pinot noir from its Gold Coast vineyard as well as other varietals and one of the area’s few pinot grigios, while taking in the view over the fields stretching out toward the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Presquile-inside
The tasting room at Presqu’ile Winery. Sally Buffalo

Get an even better vantage point at the next stop, the striking hilltop Presqu’ile Winery, where you can sip cool-climate estate varietals, order up a charcuterie plate or picnic lunch, admire the art and architecture, relax on the expansive patio or play a game of bocce ball on the lawn.

The next stop is Cottonwood Canyon Winery, one of the older wineries in the region, where you can sample estate chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah aged in underground caves you can tour for an extra charge.

From there, the trolley treks to Old Town Orcutt, with stops at both ends of town so visitors can explore the tasting rooms of Nagy Wines and Core Wine Co. as well as the new Naughty Oak Brewing Co. and shopping and dining destinations.

“Spend the whole afternoon and walk the whole town,” Nagy founder and winemaker Clarissa Nagy said.

The trolley runs until 6 p.m., with service to Presqu’ile and Cottonwood stopping at 5 p.m. Advance tickets can be purchased at:

▪  Ca’Del Grevino Wine & Café Bar, 400 E. Clark Ave., Old Orcutt

▪  Core Wine Co., 105 W. Clark Ave., Old Orcutt

▪  Costa De Oro Winery, 1331 S. Nicholson Ave., Santa Maria

▪  Cottonwood Canyon Winery, 3940 Dominion Road, Santa Maria

▪  Nagy Wines, 145 S. Gart St., Suite 103, Old Orcutt

▪  Old Town Market, 405 E. Clark Ave., Old Orcutt

▪  Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce/Visitor & Convention Bureau, 614 S. Broadway, Santa Maria

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter @sallybuffalo.

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