I've lived in the SF bay area for 4 years and have not been anywhere in the Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo stretch. The husband and I are planning on driving down in August for three nights. We'll likely stay in Solvang. I'm willing to look past some of the hokey-ness of it since it seems fairly central, cheap, and dog friendly (our little happy 14 pound chihuahua corgi mix is coming along).
Our thought is to hit the San Luis Obispo/Pasa Robles area on the way down and back, and then spend the middle two days in the stretch between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos/Santa Ynez etc.
Any suggestions for wineries and/or restaurants?
We've done Napa and Sonoma a million times, and we're fairly particular about what we like. We like small, off the beaten path type wineries, particularly those that don't need to woo you with a dizzying array of 12 different chardonnays, 8 other white blends, 6 pinots, 18 different reserve cabs, and 3 mediocre "ports." I like simple, focused wineries that know how to stand on just a couple of good grape varietals, like Elyse in Napa or Freeman and Bella in Sonoma. I don't mind more commercial, well known places if they are good and focused - eg I adore Ridge, but not, say, Mondavi.
I appreciate your help!