Need a reason to visit Santa Maria Valley? Relax—we have ten of them. From a coastal climate that winegrowers love to quaint hotels that won’t break the bank to signature barbecue that’ll have you wanting seconds, you’re sure to fall in love-at-first-taste with our one-of-a-kind valley.
1. We’re an acclaimed wine-growing region: The Santa Maria Valley is one of six federally recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVA) within Santa Barbara County, making the area one of the top wine regions in the world.
2. Our coastal climate is one-of-a-kind: The region boasts a rare “transverse” geography—an east-west orientation forms valleys that open directly into the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography creates one of the coolest wine-growing regions in California, making for an ideal environment for classic grape varietals.
3. There’s no better place to fill your glass: Pinot, Chardonnay, and Syrah are among the varietals that excel in the Santa Maria Valley. These are composed of well-drained soils that also contribute to exceptional fruit intensity and flavor concentration.
4. We’re always celebrating something: Downtown Santa Maria hosts the Autumn Arts Grapes and Grains Festival in September. In the neighboring areas, the Chardonnay Symposium takes place in Shell Beach in May, and the Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival Grand Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley takes place in April. The Celebration of Harvest Grand Tasting also occurs every October in Solvang.
5. Fresh air is in abundance: The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail connects Los Olivos and Santa Maria, a journey that gets you out of the city and into the country. There are meandering roads, breathtaking views, and tucked-away vineyards all along the trail.
6. Our wineries treat you like family: Visitors can discover longtime favorites such as Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery’s wine caves and the Historic Santa Maria Inn’s Wine Cellar and Martini Bar. We also love Presqu’ile Winery’s state-of-the-art facility and Ca’ Del Grevino Café & Wine Bar’s farm-fresh offerings.
7. Our valley is full of flavor: A great complement to Santa Maria Valley wines is Santa Maria-style barbecue, which centers around beef tri-tip or sirloin combined with a simple seasoning, grilled over red-oak wood. The traditional accompaniments include pinquito beans, fresh salsa, tossed green salad, and grilled French bread dipped in sweet melted butter.
8. We’re a West-Coast hub: Santa Maria is approximately 3 hours from Los Angeles, and approximately 4 ½ hours from San Francisco. Santa Maria also has an airport with direct flights to and from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Neighboring cities such as Santa Barbara (SBA) and San Luis Obispo (SBP) also have airports.
9. We offer more bang for your buck: There are lots of places to stay in Santa Maria and the surrounding area. Typically, hotel rates are more affordable than some of the more known tourist-destination spots. Sights and areas of interest are all within a relatively short drive’s distance.
10. Our weather is worth cozying up to: Excellent weather makes visiting the Santa Maria Valley easy year-round, with temperatures averaging 69 degrees.