Santa Ynez Valley AVA
The Santa Ynez Valley is a designated American Viticultural Area (A.V.A.) with several sub A.V.A.’s including The Santa Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos and Happy Canyon. The climate varies substantially from the western extremities in the Santa Rita Hills where strong coastal influences make it ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to the warm eastern extremities in the Happy Canyon AVA. The climate in Happy Canyon is considered ideal for Bordeaux varietals. Throughout the entire Santa Ynez valley are also plantings of Rhone varietals.
While chardonnay is the most heavily planted grape, it is the Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills that has garnered the most attention for Santa Barbara county wines. Numerous highly rated Pinot Noirs come from the multitude of wineries dotting the sides of Highway 246 from Buellton to Lompoc such as Seasmoke, Mellville, and Cebada. Meanwhile extensive investment in the Happy Canyon A.V.A. in both the vineyards and wine making facilities is beginning to pay off with much more attention being paid to those wines in the press. Wineries like Crown Point, Grassini, and Dierberg are starting to catch consumers’ attention.
Perhaps the easiest way to get to know the local wines is to spend an afternoon in the quaint town of Los Olivos and drop into some of the more than 25 tasting rooms that fill the town.