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 Filed as : Regional SpotlightCalifornia

The American Riviera

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  • Publish Date: Oct 6, 2009

Santa Barbara County, nestled on the California coast has risen from wine obscurity to Pinot prominence in a short 30 years.

In the 1960s, UC Davis scientists reported that Santa Barbara’s climate, soil and water gave it great potential as a wine producing area. In fact, the cool temperatures and mineral-rich soil were seen as similar to those of Burgundy.

After enjoying spectacular coastal hike, you can head to one Santa Barbara's three sub appellations: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills. The unique soil and micro-climates of each will make you appreciate the diversity Santa Barbara has to offer—from Pinots grown in cool coastal clouds (Santa Rita Hills) to full, rich Syrahs born in a sun-soaked inland valley (Santa Ynez).

Great Oaks Ranch is one of our favorites from Santa Ynez. Their Syrah and Windmill Hill Cuvée are great examples of what the eastern side of the valley has to offer. Of course, no discussion of the Santa Rita Hills would be complete without mentioning Sea Smoke. There's a line around the block to get a bottle of their Pinot!

Discover more about beautiful Santa Barbara County at

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