Santa Maria Valley AVA

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Located on the San Luis Obispo county border, this district is climatologically and geographically an extension of the coastal sections of its northern neighbour. A flock of distinctive Pinot Noirs brought this AVA swift identity during the 1980s. It also has proven well adapted to Chardonnay in a short career that began only with the 1970s. The floodplain of the Santa Maria river runs true east–west, and thus is wide open to the prevailing sea fogs of the region. Much more heavily planted than the Santa Ynez Valley to the south, it has only a dozen or so wineries. Byron, Qupé, and Au Bon Climat were its most prominent wineries at the outset of the 1990s, but more recently kendall-jackson’s purchase of the Tepusquet Vineyard has made it an extremely important player (mainly under the Cambria label). Some small artisan wineries such as Foxen have also enjoyed acclaim, especially among day visitors from Los Angeles. Most of its grapes go to cellars outside the county. Much of the part that stays home goes to wineries in other parts of the county, and Rancho Sisquoc have also enjoyed acclaim, and the Miller family, owner of Bien Nacido Vineyard (whose grapes are prized by wineries throughout California) launched its own Bien Nacido label in 2010. Many of Santa Maria’s grapes go to cellars outside the county, most notably the Ojai Vineyard in nearby Ventura county.