TASTING ROOMS AND WINERIES
“Urban Wine Trail” in Santa Barbara
Area 5.1 Winery, (805) 770-7251
Au Bon Climat, (805) 963-7999
AVA Santa Barbara, (805) 453-6768
Avelina Winery, (805) 770-7210
Carr Vineyards and Winery, (805) 965-7985
Cottonwood Canyon, (805) 937-8463
Deep Sea Tasting Room, (805) 618-1185
Grassini Family Vineyards, (805) 897-3366
Folded Hills Tasting Room & Winery, (805) 694-8086
Jaffurs Wine Cellars, (805) 962-7003
Kalyra Winery, (805) 965-8606
Kunin Wines, (805) 963-9633
Municipal Winemakers, (805) 931-6864
Oreana Winery, (805) 962-5857
Pali Wine Company, (805) 560-7254
Santa Barbara Winery, (805) 963-3633
Whitcraft Winery, (805) 730-1680
Summerland Winery, (805) 565-9463
A BRIEF HISTORY
In 1782, Father Junipero Serra had grapevine cuttings brought to Santa Barbara and planted near Sycamore Creek. Within 20 years a larger mission vineyard had been established next to San Jose Creek just north of Santa Barbara. The adobe winery at that location still stands in what is now the town of Goleta. With those few first vines and the subsequent vineyard, Santa BarbaraCounty’s now acclaimed wine grape growing and winemaking history began.
The next major documented event in the evolution of the local wine industry took place in 1884 when Justinian Caire, a French immigrant, imported grape slips from his home country and planted a 150-acre vineyard on Santa Cruz Island off the Santa Barbara coast. Meanwhile, in 1842, a Carpinteria farmer planted a single vine that, by about 1890, had reached a circumference of nine feet, with an arbor covering two acres and an annual ten ton grape yield.
It wasn’t until 1962, however, that Pierre Lafond, son of the owner of a popular wine and cheese shop, founded Santa BarbaraCounty’s first modern-day winery, appropriately named Santa Barbara Winery. Two years later, the county’s first commercial vineyard was planted, followed in 1972 by Lafond’s own vineyard.
The art and science of planting and adapting vineyard plantings and winemaking according to terroir began in Santa BarbaraCounty around 1980. Soon, pinot noir and chardonnay grapes began replacing white Riesling and chenin blanc, and Rhone varietals including viognier, marsanne, rousanne, mourvedre, grenache and syrah were planted in cooler regions. Syrah, pinot noir and chardonnay are currently the most widely planted grapes in the county.
“Terroir” refers to the unique set of climate, soil and geographic characteristics that influence a grape’s flavor profile in a region, area or even specific vineyard. One major topographic feature and element of terroir found in Santa Barbara’s wine-growing region but nowhere else in the contiguous United States is a pair of mountain ranges running east-west rather than north-south. An extended growing season is the result of the fog and cool air that frequently visits the region due to the funneling effect of those ranges. Slower maturation of the grapes means they develop more intense flavor profiles and optimum sugar-acid ratios. That phenomenon, combined with just the right amount of sunshine and great soil creates a perfect environment for growing world-class wine grapes.
Of the four federally-sanctioned American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in Santa BarbaraCounty, the Santa Ynez Valley AVA is the largest and is home to over 50 wineries of all sizes and hundreds of acres of vineyards. The cooling ocean air is felt less there since the area rests in the eastern part of the valley. Bordeaux grape varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot are right at home there. In fact, the climatic differences between the Santa Ynez Valley AVA and the region west of it are so great that its western neighbor has received its own designation, the Santa Rita Hills AVA.
Another growing region known for its cool climate similar to France’s Burgundy region is the Santa Maria Valley AVA. Its boundaries are the San RafaelMountains to the east and the SolomonHills and city of Santa Maria to the west. There, the Burgundian the grape varietals pinot noir and chardonnay thrive.
The area most recently granted its own AVA, and the portion of the Santa Barbara Wine Country with the smallest vineyard acreage, is HappyCanyon, nestled in the far eastern portion of the Santa Ynez Valley. With elevations of from 800 to 3,400 feet above sea level, a warm climate and mineral-rich, rock soil, HappyCanyon provides a perfect environment for Bordeaux and Rhone grape varietals.
Blessed with a diversity of microclimates, Santa BarbaraCounty winemakers are able to create an array of wines capable of pleasing virtually any palate. More than four decades of experimentation with grapes, vineyards and winemaking has allowed vintners to fine-tune the varietals and wines of the region. It is no accident, therefore, that Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) and Viognier are standouts among white wines, while Pinot Noir and Syrah shine in the red wine category.
Plantings of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals are increasing and maturing in the newer Happy Canyon AVA and elsewhere, so more world-class Cabernet Sauvignon blends, Merlots and Sauvignon Blancs are emerging from Santa Barbara’s Wine Country.
THE WINERIES, EVENTS AND MUCH MORE
The comprehensive website of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association provides a wealth of information about Santa Barbara’s wine country, wines, wineries and wine events.