In the Heart of the Santa Barbara County Wine Region
The Santa Maria Valley occupies the northern perimeter of Santa Barbara County on California’s Central Coast, which is today recognized as one of the world’s most dynamic wine-growing regions. With an encompassed 7,500 vineyard acres, the Santa Maria Valley is also the Central Coast’s first officially approved American Viticultural Area (AVA).
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 a Mediterranean climate that produces one of California’s longest growing seasons. The unique growing environment ensures the development of complex, flavorful and exquisitely balanced grapes. Grapes in the region are either grown on the Santa Maria Bench or off the Bench, both wine grapes with completely different and unique flavor profiles. Grape growing in the Santa Maria Valley can be traced back to the early Mexican Colonial period in the 1800s. In 2011, there were 18,790 acres and nine vineyards added to the Santa Maria Valley AVA.
With its geological oddity and natural funnel-shape, the Santa Maria Valley AVA is bounded by the San Rafael Mountains and Los Padres National Forest to the east and by the Solomon Hills and the city of Santa Maria to the West. The Santa Maria Valley AVA can be explored easily, with 34 tasting rooms within a 30-minute drive. The Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley is one of the most popular ways to taste the region’s wines. The Trolley makes a loop to some of the area’s tasting rooms every weekend from May to October. Winos can also cruise through the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, which is home to 14 tasting rooms.
The wines of the Santa Maria Valley, especially the award-winning Pinot Noir, have also proven to be a perfect match for Santa Maria Style Barbecue, adding a fresh dimension to this local culinary tradition. The vineyards and wineries of the Santa Maria Valley were featured prominently in the hit movie Sideways, and two wines from the region were named to the Wine Spectator’s prestigious list of Top 100 out of more than 19,000 wines from around the world. Santa Barbara County placed in the top five of USA Today 10 Best’s Best Wine Region in 2018. Santa Maria was also named the Most Underrated Town in California by House Method, and Travel Channel named Santa Maria Valley a Top 10 City for Wine Snobs (but you won’t find any snobbery here).
With more than 30 winery tasting rooms welcoming you to the region, it’s no wonder the Santa Maria Valley is a favorite among wine lovers throughout the world. Here, you will taste exquisite Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and many other varietals that excel in our extraordinary coastal climate and beautiful countryside. See all the ways you can experience a wine tasting weekend in the Santa Maria Valley and plan your wine getaway now.