Within Santa Barbara County there are currently six federally-sanctioned American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley which is then broken down into four sub-AVAs (West to East): Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District, and Happy Canyon.
During my various visits to Santa Barbara I’ve had the pleasure of visiting various AVA’s and gotten to know many within The Santa Maria Valley so naturally, I have a Top 10 Santa Maria Valley Winery list to share with you! I hope you enjoy and as always, let me know if you have any questions or additions I have missed.
1. Bien Nacido Vineyards
As one of the most historic well-known vineyards in the region Bien Nacido Vineyards is truly a legend in the Santa Barbara County Wine region. This is for because of their grape growing and selling to some of the most presitgious wineries in the region, and producing their own wines. Read more about Bien Nacido Vineyards here and my vineyard tour with their Winemaker Trey. 4705 Santa Maria Mesa Road, Santa Maria, CA 93454.
2. Au Bon Climat
Although I have only visited Au Bon Climat for their annual warehouse sale (which is amazing for wine lovers) Jim Clendenen is pretty much like the god father of winemaking in Santa Barbara. His wines are incredible and as I meet more and more winemakers I learn that he’s a mentor to many and truly a god in the winemaking world. We’ve met (at the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting) and he’s great. Hopefully I’ll get to visit his Winery soon and share more. In the meantime, be sure to experience his wines I promise you’ll adore them…… 813 Anacapa St #5b, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Winemaker Jim Clandenon at The 2016 Top 100 Wine & Spirits San Francisco Tasting
3. Byron Winery
I had the pleasure of visiting Byron Winery and being hosted by winemaker Jonathan Nagy. This Winery is not open to the public, however, I can still share with you why you must try their wines. Winemaker Jonathan’s winemaking style is exquisite. His wines are very elegant, smooth and fruit forward truly showcasing the expression of the vineyards the grapes are grown on. In addition to Byron Jonathan also makes wines for Nielson, which I also really really enjoyed. Read more about my behind the scenes winery tour here.
The spectacular views from Byron Winery looking into the vineyards and the valley.
The assortment of wines I tasted during my visit. Incredible!
Qupe Wines is known for their Rhône-style wines. Sourcing grapes from the organically farmed Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, the biodynamically farmed Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in the Edna Valley, and the organically farmed Ibarra-Young Vineyard in Los Olivos. Led by Winemaker Bob Lindquist, these wines are truly incredible. Read more about my interview with Winemaker Bob Lindquist here. 4665 Santa Maria Mesa Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454.
Winemaker Bob Lindquist
5. Riverbench Vineyards
RiverBench Vineyards was the first winery I ever visited in Santa Barbara County and I will never forget the experiene. Their wines are extremely beautiful and delicate. They are made by a female winemaker, Clarissa Naggy and I adore her flavorful, full body, yet balanced and beautiful wines. Her husband also makes wines in the area for Byron (also on my Top 10 list) and I have to say they have a similar winemaking style as I also adore his wines at Byron as well. 6020 Foxen Canyon Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454
6. Cambria Estate Vineyards & Winery
Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery is pretty close to Byron so I’d suggest visiting them back to back. Cambria has a tasting room, however, an additional perk of visiting, besides of course their yummy wines is their valley view. I’d suggest visiting, tasting through the wines in the tasting room and finding your favorite wine and grabbing a bottle to relax, enjoy with quite possibly the most beautiful valley view in the region. 5475 Chardonnay Ln, Santa Maria, CA 93454.
The line up of Chardonnays I tried including three different vineyars from the Santa Maria Valley.
7. Presqui’le Winery
Presqui’le Winery is quite possibly the most beautiful winery in the region also making beautiful incredible wines. Read more about their winery here and hear about my spectacular visit, winery tour and tasting. 5391 Presquile Dr, Santa Maria, CA 93455
This list is still in progress, so stay tuned as I ad the balance of the Top 10 Wineries