Viticulture in Santa Barbara County is traceable to missionary plantings in the Milpas Valley late in the 18th century. Since commercial viticulture rebounded in the 1960s, Santa Barbara County has been on the fast track to viticultural stardom. Its grapes now command among the highest prices anywhere in the state. Famous for ripe yet elegant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the County is also gaining a reputation for Rhone varietals including Syrah and Viognier. Located on California’s South Central Coast, Santa Barbara County is an oasis of rolling hills, ancient oak trees and cattle ranches. The County now claims more than 60 wineries and 21,000 acres of vine, with the vast majority of the vineyards in the County’s three AVAs: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez and Santa Rita Hills, each with its own distinct terroir. Santa Barbara’s fame hasn’t come without hurdles, as environmental issues and the social impact of big business are major issues for a region striving to maintain its identity.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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is the Regional Correspondent for Santa Barbara County.