Santa Maria Valley BeachFine wine meets world-famous barbecue in the Santa Maria Valley, where Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and other locally grown varietals offer a perfect match for the rich culinary traditions of this coastal region in northern Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Maria Valley’s culinary heritage dates back to the mid 1800s, when local rancheros would host Spanish-style barbecues each spring for their vaqueros, or cowboys. Under the trees of this serene coastal valley, they would enjoy feasts that included beef barbecued over earthen fire pits. From this tradition was born Santa Maria Style Barbecue, which is founded on local ingredients and methods.

Today, Santa Maria Style Barbecue offers a savory match with local wines, which exhibit the unique characteristics of the region. The Santa Maria Valley boasts a rare “transverse” geography, an east-west orientation that channels cool ocean air directly into the valley. The result is one of California’s longest growing seasons, which ensures the development of complex, flavorful and exquisitely balanced grapes. These conditions are also very favorable to strawberries and other produce, all of which contribute to the valley’s rich agricultural legacy.

In addition to fine food and wine, the Santa Maria Valley is home to a variety of other exciting attractions. For example, the region boasts a remarkable diversity of golf courses, including several praised by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest for their quality and affordability. The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes are also not to be missed. Here, spectacular coastal dunes loom as awe-inspiring mounts of shifting sands that are teeming with biological diversity. Visitors to the dunes are encouraged to start their adventure at the Dunes Center in Guadalupe, which offers educational exhibits, as well as guided hikes and walks.

The Santa Maria Valley’s cultural attractions include the Santa Maria Museum of Flight, with its unique collection of vintage aircraft and Hollywood props; live theater at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA), Great American Melodrama and Santa Maria Civic Theater; and ecological splendors at the Natural History Museum. Kids are in luck, too, as the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum offers 13,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities for children of all ages.

For more information on experiencing the Santa Maria Valley, visit or call 800-331-3779 for information.