A Guide to California Wine Regions

September 20, 2021

Enjoy the best that California has to offer by visiting the many prolific wine regions in and around Santa Maria Valley.

When you picture a getaway to California, you likely imagine yourself with a glass of California wine overlooking the sun-kissed golden beaches that nuzzle the glistening waves of the Pacific Ocean. The Golden State is one of the largest wine producers in the world. It is ranked number four overall, producing 81% of the wine in the U.S. With so many California wine regions, it can be challenging to choose your next adventure. Mixed in amongst these wineries, tucked away in Santa Barbara County, the Santa Maria Valley is the perfect home base for your next wine getaway. With 34 wineries in Santa Maria Valley alone, all within a 30-mile drive, your new favorite wine destination awaits.

In Santa Maria Valley wine country, our winemakers aren’t just names on a label. They’re inviting, knowledgeable and ready to pour you a glass of their divine wine. They know that Santa Maria Valley wine pairs well with blue jeans, barbecue and honest-to-goodness smiles. Come to taste, stay to relax.

Even though we may be partial to Santa Maria Valley, we encourage you to explore all that California has to offer when it comes to its varietals and genuine wine country experiences. Because Santa Maria Valley is the central wine region in California, branching out to sip and savor is always a breeze.

Below are some of the most prolific California wine regions spanning the Golden State. When you make your way back to Santa Maria Valley, your ideal home base, you will find that the wine is sensational, and the barbecue is worth waiting for.

North Valleys Wine Region

Mendocino County Wine

Just eight hours north of Santa Maria Valley, this region is worth the visit. Farmers, winemakers and artisans unite to create balanced wines and express the area’s 11 diverse applications. The region is known for progressive winemaking, where organic and sustainable techniques meet boutique vineyards. Mendocino County has the most acreage of certified organic vineyards in the country. If you enjoy Mendocino’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley’s should also be at the top of your list!

Napa Valley Wine 

World-renowned. Expansive. Diverse. In between Mendocino and Santa Maria Valley, Napa Valley is America’s most celebrated wine region, and for many reasons. With a distinctive regional terroir and high-quality wines set among a divine backdrop, the area is also famed for its cuisine, including culinary treasures from Michelin superstars such as Thomas Keller and Robert Curry. Napa Valley is home to 16 sub-appellations, each with its own microclimate and grapes. There is much to discover here, including its most famous Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sonoma County Wine

Sonoma County, Napa Valley’s nearby neighbor, is home to more than 1,800 winegrape growers, many from multi-generational families who have been farming in the region for centuries. The terroir includes 18 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), ensuring individualism in the wines and diverse approaches to winemaking. Eighty-five percent of Sonoma County’s vineyards are family-owned and operated to give you a quaint yet rich wine experience.

These Northern wineries are worth the scenic drive. After a day of tasting, get a good night’s sleep, then make your way down to Santa Maria Valley to savor award-winning barbecue and other delicious treats (or maybe just more wine. We wouldn’t blame you.)

Sierra Foothills Wine Region

Placer County Wine

With 20 rugged wineries, the region slowly transformed from Gold Country to farmland as many miners became vintners. Winemaking came to Placer County the same year gold was discovered in the area in 1848. Just a short drive north of Santa Maria Valley, this region will keep you entertained all day long.

El Dorado County Wine

When you’re done swirlin’ and sippin’ in Placer County, stop here on your way down to Santa Maria Valley for your daily dose of adventure (and more wine). At the north end of California’s famed Mother Lode, this region is known for its attractions, agriculture and old-vine, ever-famous Zinfandel. Thriving on rugged terrain and high altitudes, the El Dorado Wine Movement lets visitors whitewater raft and savor white wine all in one adventure.

A day well-spent deserves another adventure. After enjoying your time in the Sierra Foothills of California, catch plenty of zzz’s and mosey over to Santa Maria Valley to wrap up your California road trip. With plenty of attractions and events, you’ll be able to keep the good times rollin’.

Central Valley Wine Region

Lodi Wine

Though it may not be as popular as other wine regions, Lodi is worth your visit. Just four hours north of Santa Maria Valley, it has been producing grapes since the mid-1800s and is the largest appellation in California with more than 110,000 acres in production. You’ll find hearty Zinfandels here as well as other popular California varietals. Sip and share conversations with the vintners and winemakers themselves, who are often found meandering around the tasting rooms.

Fresno County Wine

This county consists of 13 wineries, and each location in this quaint California wine region has a signature personality. A scenic, three-hour drive from Santa Maria Valley, with plenty of lively stops along the way, the Fresno County wine journey tasting rooms are locally-owned, and many are family-operated. Approximately one-fifth of the total wine grapes grown in California are here!

Rife with history and friendly faces, these wine regions will make your California wine tasting getaway unforgettable. Santa Maria Valley is here to keep this vibe going. Complete your day on the Central Coast with us. After all, what is a trip to California without a visit to inhale the coastal scenery? Let the fresh air softly lull you to sleep as you pass the night in one of our many hotels.

South Coast Wine Region

Temecula Valley Wine

A few hours south of Santa Maria Valley, Southern California’s wine country exudes a personal touch, giving visitors a friendly and relaxed experience. Temecula’s elevation ranges from approximately 1,700 feet above sea level in the peaks of about 1,100-1,200 on the valley floor. Most Temecula Valley wineries make only a small quantity of each vintage, making your visit truly unforgettable.

 San Diego County Wine

Near Temecula, this wine region has been growing grapes longer than nearly any other county in the state. It is home to the state’s oldest grapes at Mission San Diego de Alcala. This wine community continues to grow, with more than 115 wineries across the county.

When you empty your glasses in SoCal, don’t fret! Come on up to Santa Maria Valley, where another fully-filled, award-winning glass of Chardonnay will be waiting with your name on it. Let time stand still as you take in the history, charm and wine from our many vintners. The Central Coast is awaiting your next visit!

Central Coast Wine Region

Monterey County Wine

Just three hours north of Santa Maria Valley, experience distinctive wines in a picture-perfect setting. All grapes grown in Monterey County are wine grapes that contain an intense varietal flavor. Monterey County is a leader in mechanical harvesting, the most efficient method of removing grapes from the vines during harvest. Chardonnay makes up about 40% of the county’s acreage. Suitable terrain, an ideal climate and a blend of traditional and innovative wine growing methods make this area a delightful destination.

Paso Robles Wine

One of the fastest-growing wine regions, Paso Robles is considered the wine industry’s wild west, which matches its history of being wild-at-heart and fostering a spirit of innovation. Since 2000, wineries have grown from 50 to over 200, driven by smaller family-owned producers. Paso Robles is known for being the “Rhone-Zone” because it hosts the most extensive acreage of Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne in the state. Just an hour outside Santa Maria Valley, this is a must-stop destination for all wine lovers.

Edna Valley Wine 

In the heart of the Central Coast, this area in the San Luis Obispo County region glows with hospitality and lush beauty. With temperate weather and coastal breezes, guests can sip on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir while relaxing on a picnic bench. Throughout the Valley, there are vineyards to meander through, farm stands to stop off at and the charming vintage village of Old Edna Townsite to explore. Visit all you can in the SLO Coast Wine Collective, and chat with producers of coastal-crafted wines while being just minutes away from your home base in Santa Maria Valley.

 Santa Barbara County Wine

What’s not to love about Santa Maria Valley’s own wine region in Santa Barbara County? The world went Sideways for the central coast after the movie was released in 2004, opening a down-to-earth yet elegant area to the world. Santa Barbara County has more than 70 different wine grape varieties grown in the region, 275 wineries and seven AVAs. It is one of the coolest grape-growing regions of California.

Santa Maria Valley is arguably the area with the longest growing season in the state and the second oldest AVA in California. The Santa Maria Valley can trace grape-growing harkening back to the Mexican Colonial era and is one of the earliest AVAs established in Santa Barbara County. It has one of the coolest climates due to its east-west transverse geography, producing notable signature varietals such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

With more than 30 wine tasting rooms in Santa Maria Valley, visitors can swirl and sip while chatting up locals and winemakers alike in a laid-back environment. Santa Maria Valley is home to many other agricultural products and is the epicenter of the award-winning Santa Maria Style Barbecue.

 

Of course, we are a bit biased when it comes to the “best” wine-tasting destinations, but maybe you already knew that. Whether you’re up north, down south or here with us on the Central Coast, with Santa Maria Valley as your home base, your next California wine trip is sure to be an absolute hit.

 Learn more about the Santa Maria Valley wine region and start planning your next California wine getaway today!

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