Monday, January 30, 2012

Santa Barbara County Wine Country

Is there life beyond Napa and Sonoma? Yes indeed, and the wine there is pretty tasty.

We recently visited 10 wineries in Santa Barbara County and found the wine to be top shelf and the area a beautiful place to visit – without the gridlock and tour buses of some other major wine destinations.

Santa Barbara County is part of the sprawling Central Coast appellation in California which extends from San Jose in the north to Santa Barbara in the south. It lies along 250 miles of rolling seacoast. The climate is mostly ideal for wine grapes and varieties from southern France, Italy and Spain thrive here.

Within Santa Barbara County there are five AVAs: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara County is unique because of the unusual mountain configuration with an east-west orientation. The valleys open directly to the Pacific Ocean. This allows the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes, resulting in one of the coolest winegrowing regions in California. The growing season here is longer than other growing areas, allowing the grapes to have an unusually long “hang time” on the vine. This results in some world class wines.

During our recent trip we visited 10 wineries: Arcadian Winery, Buttonwood Farm Winery, Foxen 7200, Gainey Vineyard, Koehler Winery, Lincourt Vineyards, Palmina, Rancho Sisquoc Winery, Rideau Winery & Vineyards and Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards.

Along the way we found excellent wine, funky restaurants, great towns and beautiful scenery. Stay tuned as we being our series of reports in the days ahead.
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