The unique, transverse nature of the valley’s of Santa Barbara Wine Country provides a patchwork quilt of microclimates and terrains, resulting in one of the most diverse grapegrowing regions in the country. The valleys in the Pacific coastline actually run east-west rather than north-south, and both the coastal Santa Ynez Mountain range and the more interior San Rafael range are transverse too. Because of this geologic oddity, the ocean breezes sweep eastward, channeled by the hills and mountains that ring the region. Heading east into the foothills, the temperatures are warm during the day and very cool during the night, whereas the vineyards that lie westward toward the ocean enjoy a mild and moderate climate. Coupled with soils that run the gamut from ancient beach and diatomaceous earth to chirt and limestone, there is a near perfect place for a wide variety of winegrape varietals.
There are currently three federally sanctioned American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within Santa Barbara County; the Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills appellations. As grapegrowers continue to advance their understanding of the best places to plant particular winegrape varietals, the Los Alamos region, the Santa Maria Bench and Happy Canyon are also showing distinct characteristics that may one day lead to AVA status.