The Santa Maria Valley has enjoyed a relatively quick rise to stardom among California’s elite winegrowing regions. The number of wineries in the appellation has rocketed from a mere handful to over 30 in recent years. While the region still trails in numbers compared to Santa Barbara’s other famous appellation, the Santa Ynez Valley, its wineries and vineyard owners are among the best and most respected in California.
The AVA’s east-west orientation allows Pacific fog and coastal breezes to permeate the valley, creating an extended growing season. Combined with low annual precipitation and the warm Southern California sun, Santa Maria Valley enjoys a unique climate for California viticulture. Grapes are mainly grown in well-drained sandy loam and clay-loam soils, on slopes with elevations ranging from 200-800 feet. Much of the AVA’s 7,500 acres of vine is planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a large portion within its three most famous vineyards: Tepusquet, Sierra Madre and Bien Nacido. The area’s grapes command some of the highest prices in North America, reaffirming the AVA’s distinction as one the finest viticultural regions in North America.
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 Maria Valley.