78 Montecito Magazine Spring–Summer 2019 uests of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara can choose to enhance their stay by joining in various activities. The resort’s Extraordinary Experiences connect guests with exceptional local professionals for one-of-a-kind adventures exclusive to resort guests. The newest of these, launched in 2019, immerses you in the elite world of winemaking in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley, just 35 minutes north of Santa Barbara. The experience begins with a scenic drive in a chauffeured luxury vehicle along the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Trail to Sunstone Vineyards & Winery. The Rice family purchased the estate in 1989, on the bluffs of the Santa Ynez River, where the cli- mate is ideal for growing Bordeaux and Rhône varietals. The Rices planted Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Viognier grapes, and soon became one of the region’s leading vineyards. They also built an 8,500-square-foot Provence-inspired villa with reclaimed limestone from France. Sunstone CEO and master blender Bion Rice says the estate is an ideal touring venue because “it’s one of the only estates that does everything all in one place, from the vineyard to winery to bottling. It’s a very holis- tic experience.” Bion greets you on arrival and begins the expe- rience with a tasting of white wines before ventur- ing to the organic vineyard. “I basically show the process, from fermentation to final blending, from grapes to glass and all the steps between,” Bion explains, adding that guests are able to ask ques- tions about each stage. He leads you, with glasses in hand, to the organic vineyard block that produced the wine grapes, followed by a tour of the winery, where Sunstone receives, crushes, ferments, ages and bottles under the same roof. After the tour, Bion takes you to the tasting room cave to blend wines from different barrel lots. After you create your cus- tom blend, enjoy a three-course lunch in the gar- den, paired with Sunstone’s current releases. Hand paint or draw your own label for your bottle, then wax dip the cork (an Old World bottling technique) and take the wine with you to age at home. “All your creative juices are contributing to the inside and outside of the bottle,” quips Bion. Guests are also able to purchase additional private-label bot- tles, and some even order a barrel (24 cases) for holiday gifts. u Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara G Taste the Art of Winemaking Create a custom blend at Sunstone Winery PHOTOGRAPHER: MIKE LARSON. COURTESY SUNSTONE VINEYARDS & WINERY.