Within the foothills of California’s Central Coast you’ll find the picturesque Santa Maria Valley – home to some of California’s most famous vineyards and most respected winemakers.
In the Santa Maria Valley, many of the vineyards are sprawling, and home to a wide array of grape varieties including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others.
It’s no surprise that wine grapes have emerged as Santa Barbara County’s No. 1 agricultural crop, with more than 19,000 acres of vineyards planted. And in the Santa Maria Valley area of the county, some of America’s best bottlings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah are crafted.
The valley possesses the rare geographic feature of running east-west. This helps channel cool air into the region, creating mild temperatures throughout the year. Vine-damaging frost is a rarity in the Santa Maria Valley. And because of the general coolness, the growing season lasts about a month longer than in other areas of the state, providing plenty of “hang time” for the grapes to develop fully.
Another factor in the quality of Santa Maria Valley grapes is the soil. It’s more porous than found elsewhere, and also drains extremely well. This restricts vine vigor and concentrates flavors in the grapes.
Add a cadre of experienced, dedicated vintners – including Daniel Gehrs, Tom Williams, Ken Brown, Chuck Carlson, Eli Parker, Bill Wathen, Dick Dore and Chuck Ortman – to the mix, and the wines of the Santa Maria Valley are among the most sought-after anywhere.