In the Santa Maria Valley, barbecue country is also wine country, and now the latter is bigger and better than ever.

Indeed, the official boundaries of the Santa Maria Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) were recently expanded to include 19,000 additional acres of land. From this point forward, any wines grown in vineyards located within the added acreage can bear the “Santa Maria Valley” appellation on their label instead of the less-specific “Santa Barbara County.”

So what’s the impetus behind the expansion? Well, when the Santa Maria Valley AVA was first established in 1981, it was conveniently drawn up with several unnatural boundaries, such as freeways and roads.

Needless to say, these boundaries left out some areas that, from a winegrowing perspective, naturally belonged to the Santa Maria Valley. With the growth of the local wine industry, more and more vineyards were planted in these areas. The new boundaries now recognize these vineyards as rightful residents of the Santa Maria Valley AVA. Click here for a story detailing the expansion.

Just recently, three Santa Maria Valley wines were named among the Wine Enthusiast’s top ten slots on its list of Top 100 Wines of 2010. The new AVA ruling just adds to the good news, and confirms that Santa Maria Style Barbecue is surrounded by other world-class flavors that beckon your taste buds.