For years, when someone said they were going to wine country for the weekend, they meant Napa or Sonoma. After all, it’s a short drive from San Francisco and an easy flight from Los Angeles.
Now, however, when people say they are going to wine country for the weekend, perhaps they mean Santa Barbara. A short flight from San Francisco and a beautiful drive along the coast from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara wine country, about an hour from the city of Santa Barbara, is no longer a “fly over” region. Wines, combined with the sunshine and the ocean, make Santa Barbara wine country a worthwhile destination.
Starting with the first vines planted in the Santa Maria Valley in the 1960s, through vineyard expansion in the 1970s and 1980s, new winemakers chose to set their roots, literally and figuratively, in the untapped Central Coast.
One of the early pioneers to the region was Richard Sanford. With a background in geography, Sanford, who had just returned from the Vietnam War, was looking for an appropriate place to grow pinot noir.
In the late 1960s only a few vineyards had been planted in what is now the Santa Maria Valley. As he was driving up and down the coast, he found the Central Coast to have the ideal climate, soils and exposure. Due to the Santa Ynez River, the soil was composed of sedimentary deposits that were weathered and well-drained. But, there was also something else that made this area distinctive.
Read the complete story in the Napa Valley Register.