The South Central Coast, which includes several appellations grouped together in and around Santa Barbara County, is one of the most exciting wine areas in the country today. Its main appellations—Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills—are home to some of the best and most adventurous winemakers of the day.
Despite being only an hour and half north of Los Angeles, the South Central Coast is one of the coolest wine areas in the state. The valleys here run east to west, instead of north to south, funneling ocean winds directly inland. Chardonnay and pinot noir thrive in the cool climate that is created, although syrah has made a strong showing in the last few years as well. The chardonnays here are pure, precise, and overflowing with exotic fruit. The pinot noirs are equally stunning, led by luscious fruit flavors but focused by high acidity so that they are light and elegant. And syrah, the black sheep of the South Central Coast family, is dark, brooding and wild with fantastically floral, spicy, and meaty characteristics.
When visiting the area, the town of Los Olivos, 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara, is not to be missed. Its quaint streets are lined with tasting rooms, restaurants, boutiques, and more tasting rooms, and it’s a perfect place to visit for a day (or a weekend…or a week…) to sip, stroll and relax.
Some of our favorite wines include:
Have a favorite South Central Coast wine? Tell us below.
Photo Credit: Wine Guy Mike