Separated from the larger and more developed Santa Ynez Valley by the Purisima Hills, the Los Alamos Valley prides itself in maintaining a tranquil, pastoral ambiance much as it had when the founders of its namesake town arrived in the mid-1870s. Today, cattle and horse ranches, vegetable farms and vineyards dot the relatively narrow valley and adjacent rolling hills. The Los Alamos Valley is not all cowboys, farmers and a few reclusive shopkeepers and artisans, however. A handful of celebrities have discovered its mild Mediterranean climate, value as a private retreat away from the press and paparazzi, and the access to excellent food and wine.
Once an overnight stop for travelers on the 19th century stage and railroad routes that ran through the valley, today the town of Los Alamos serves wine and food aficionados traveling the Santa Barbara County wine trail. The Union Hotel, built in 1880, has been gentrified just enough to attract those discriminating overnight guests, who also enjoy the small town’s antique stores, art galleries and restaurants.