Just as the Central Coast beckons as one drives north along Highway 101 and the road turns inland from the ocean, ascending into Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara Wine Country, so does the Santa Ynez Bed and Breakfast, ForFriends Inn. The landscape changes to a pastoral setting filled with oak trees, letting us know we have arrived in the land of the Chumash. Oak trees define the Santa Ynez Valley, symbolizing the ecological balance of the land around you. Like the oak tree, grapes are the fruit of the area, and so are the accommodations that make your visit unique.
Escaping to Santa Barbara County Wine County and discovering this ideal Santa Ynez Bed and Breakfast makes a stay at ForFriends Inn very special. The accommodations are stylishly modern with an old-world charm. The inn is about creating an experience that each guest will not forget. It is a memorable moment in wine country you take with you on your journey home.
Welcome to the ForFriends Inn
The proprietor, Dave Pollack, welcomes you to the Inn, a California Craftsman Farmhouse with its six suites, two private cottages, the two-story Sunstone Tower, and the cozy Kalyra Cottage. An adjacent property contains six California Bungalows called the Village. I stayed in a bungalow in the village. I called it my home away from home because the guest room consisted of a living/dining area that opens to the bedroom and a full kitchen. Nothing was spared from the latest in A/C and lighting controls to the décor.
Santa Ynez Valley Location
Located just off the main street of Santa Ynez, one can walk to the local restaurants and shops that populate the town’s old-west country flair, including the Red Barn or The Baker’s Table. ForFriends Inn is located within 10 minutes of the other cities that make their home in the Santa Ynez Valley. They include Los Olivos with its art galleries and wine-tasting rooms; the timber-themed buildings of Solvang entice one to indulge in a Danish adventure with yummy baked goods such as Aebleskiver. Ballard the smallest town in the Santa Ynez Valley features the Ballard Canyon AVA, perhaps the smallest Santa Barbara County wine appellation and the first American AVA focused entirely on Syrah.
ForFriends Inn Story
ForFriends Inn started with four friends, Jim and Debbie Campbell and Dave and Katie Pollack, who lived on the same street in Chicago at one point, dreaming of their future working together. Dave Pollack had been transferred to Los Angeles, so the four brainstormed ideas of how they could be reunited. They were wine enthusiasts and, while in Santa Barbara Wine Country, found a need for more places to stay. They decided to create what they felt was the ideal Bed and Breakfast. It was a dream they pursued and opened in June 2012.
Dave was an executive with Easton Sporting Goods and knew his time there was coming to an end. How would he fulfill the second chapter of his life? Dave owned a consulting business but desired something more. Dave’s wife, Katie, practiced accounting, and she now handles the books. Their friends Jim and Debbie planned to move to California. Jim was a marketing genius, and Debbie was the food nurturer.
In January 2012, they discovered the Edison Street Inn was for sale at a ridiculously high price. Shortly after, the property had a dramatic price drop, which made the Inn an enticing proposition. By June, they were ready to open.
In 2016 Jim and Debbie return to Chicago, so Dave and Katie bought them out. Debbie’s influence remains with some of her homemade breakfast recipes. The most significant change since 2016 is the ForFriends Village, which opened in February 2022.
Santa Ynez Bed and Breakfast Morning Meal
Start your day with a 3-course homemade breakfast. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the glorious morning air while savoring our morning delights. Breakfast starts with homemade granola and fresh fruit, followed by Rosemary Popovers and your choice of the entree of the day, quite often quiche or scrambled eggs with herbs.
Wine and Appetizers
End your day of touring the area with a selection of local wines and Hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy these refreshments in the main house or out on the deck under the trees watching the sunset.
My memories of the ForFriends Inn are sitting out on the porch of my bungalow in the rocking chair enjoying the Santa Ynez Valley country vibes. It is a perfect ending to a stay.
Like many of the bed & breakfasts I frequent, the motto “Enter as Strangers – Leave As Friends” applies to ForFriends Inn. In this case, you arrive as a guest and leave as a friend.
Note: Common to the travel industry, this writer’s visit to the Santa Ynez Bed and Breakfast included hosted accommodations. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.