Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills AVAs

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Although far from being the only schizophrenic AVA in California, the Santa Ynez Valley comes close to being the extreme case. It starts as a narrow, fog-beset river course between steep east–west hills that run inland from the Pacific shore at Lompoc as far as the village of Solvang. There the main valley is joined by tributary canyons from the north, which are much warmer because they are sheltered from sea fogs by elevation and higher hills. The western end is best suited to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and, if anyone dares, Riesling. wind is a serious consideration, and the best sites are in the lee of hills. In recognition of its climatological distinction, this section (west of the main coastal freeway, Highway 101) is the sub-AVA of Santa Ynez Valley now named Sta. Rita Hills. (It began life as the Santa Rita Hills AVA, but Chilean producer Viña Santa Rita objected.) Sanford, Sea Smoke, Babcock, Melville, Dierberg, Brewer-Clifton, Longoria, and Lafond are prominent producers in this western section.