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Santa Barbara County Wine Industry


What's to know about Santa Ynez, California's other wine valley.

One could hardly design a better wine region than Santa Barbara's. Its Santa Ynez valley—the longest east-west valley from Alaska to Argentina—funnels coastal sea breezes and fog inland, creating the perfect environment for cool-climate wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc.

The valley produces a good portion of California's grape and wine production. Chardonnay grapes represent its most abundant varietal at nearly 22,500 tons annually, followed by Pinot Noir at 17,500. Santa Barbara vintners consume a staggering half of the valley's total production.

Just two short hours from Los Angeles and five from San Francisco, Santa Barbara gives Napa and Sonoma a run for its money. Underexposed compared to its northern counterpart, Santa Barbara's wine country offers a more relaxed and some say more intimate atmosphere.

Established by Friar Junípero Serra nearly 70 years before California's statehood, Santa Barbara's wine country boasts an incredible infrastructure. More than 200 of its vintners produce wine from 50 of the region's grape varietals, the latter giving Santa Barbara some of the greatest diversity worldwide. And the area's growers and vintners dedicate themselves to closing that perceived gap by diversification. Whether it's an everyday Chardonnay or an uncommon Charbono, you're likely to find it in Santa Barbara.

Experience Santa Barbara's wine diversity by one of the county's nine wine routes. The most famous, Urban Wine Trail, features 17 tasting rooms. If you can't find the variety that's absolutely perfect here, there's a chance it doesn't exist.

Main wine growing areas of Santa Barbara County
Main wine growing areas of Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara's vines cover 21,349 acres. The Tax and Trade Bureau recognizes six American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within the county.

 Economic impact of California wine
 Economic impact of California wine

According to Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, if California State was a country, it would be the fourth leading wine producer. Here are some more interesting points showing the impact that California's wine industry has on the state and country's economy. (graphic courtesy of California Association of Winegrape Growers and Wine Institute)

For more information, visit www.cawg.org

California Wine Institute

The California Wine Institute, a privately owned, California-based nonprofit trade association, represents more than a thousand members within California's wine industry. It initiates and advocates for public policy that enhances the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.

For more information, visit www.discovercaliforniawines.com

Ecological winemaking

In 2002, the Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP), a consortium of winemakers and growers, created the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook. The workbook defines numerous sustainability points and a means to measure progress. Among other things, the program promises to replace pesticides with beneficial predator insects, reduce water and energy consumption, manage waste more effectively, control soil erosion, and create and maintain wildlife habitats around vineyards.

For more information, visit www.sustainablewinegrowing.org