Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara is the quintessential 'California Beach Town', beautiful ocean views, warm days and nights, quaint local communities, and a relaxing resort atmosphere. The only thing that could make this place even better if there was a world class vineyards. Well, just 45 mins north of the city lies the famous Santa Barbara County wine region! This region is situated very close to the Pacific Ocean and the cool ocean breeze and fog helps keep the temperature very cool throughout the whole year. Unlike over valleys, which runs North-to-South in direction, the Santa Barbara wine region has an extremely rare valley formation that runs East-to-West, which is called a 'Transverse Valley.' Due to this unique tectonic formation, the valley acts like a tunnel that brings cool current from the ocean directly into the vineyards without any obstruction. This valley is formed by the San Rafael Mountains on the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south and because these mountains help to cool the are, it is only natural that cool-climate varietals dominate the region. In fact, Santa Barbara County is considered the coolest wine growing region in all of California according to the Winkler Index (Region I & II). Santa Barbara is recognized for making world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With 7 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within this region, Santa Barbara County could be the closest expression of Bourgogne wines from California, while remaining true to it's identity and terroir!
Santa Maria Valley AVA
The northernmost wine region in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley AVA sits below the San Rafael Mountains and makes the northern portion of the transverse valley. The prized vineyard sites are located on the Santa Maria Bench, or the mid slopes of the Santa Maria Valley for maximum sun exposure while enjoying cool breeze and fog from the Pacific Ocean. Due to its unique terroir, some of California's finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are produced here. The famous wine movie, 'Sideways' showcased this region in particular!
Santa Ynez Valley AVA
Located in on the southern side of the transverse valley, Santa Ynez Valley AVA is shaped like a corridor and has several microclimates within its AVA, encompassing several smaller sub-AVAs within it. These 4 AVAs include Santa Rita Hills AVA, Ballard Canyon AVA, Los Olivos AVA, and Happy Canyon AVA. The western portion of the AVA enjoy very cool climate so they are renown for their premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The eastern portion of the AVA move farther away from the cool ocean influence, so their climate is much warmer, perfect for Rhône and Bordeaux varietals like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. You can definitely explore many different premium quality varietals within this AVA alone!