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Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Region
Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez: As with the Central Coast region, the origin of the wine industry in Santa Barbara County and Santa Ynez Valley goes back to the California missions, and the Franciscan fathers, over 200 years ago. We can pick up the story again after the end of Prohibition, then jump ahead again to the early 1960s when the next generation of vineyards was planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and other standards. Then in the mid-1970s the first wineries were founded, to take advantage of the grapes being grown locally. Firestone was the first, with Zaca Mesa, Sanford & Benedict (now Sanford), and Rancho Sisquoc all dating back to that period.

Not too long after that, they found that it was cool enough to plant Pinot Noir closer to the ocean. And there you have the roots of the movie Sideways from a few years back, which was set in the Santa Ynez Valley. 75% of the vineyards are now planted in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. There’s a nice mix of the first generation of winemakers, and some newcomers, combining great experience and a track record of success with new techniques and technology.

President Reagan came back to his ranch in the area as often as possible. There are still a number of the old horse ranches (the area was famed for its Arabians) in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Channel Islands just off the coast are great for fishing and scuba diving. And the city of Santa Barbara – hotels, restaurants, beaches, spas, golf courses – is a great place to spend a day, or better yet a long weekend, the longer the better.

Santa Barbara County wine map

Santa Barbara County events

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