Santa Barbara Wine

The Santa Barbara County AVA lies within the Central Coast territory of California. Like much of the state’s wine regions, grape planting began with the Catholic missionaries to make wine for ceremonial mass. Though Santa Barbara can boast some of the earliest plantings, beginning in the 1780s with Father Junipero Serra bringing Mission grape cuttings from Mexico and planting them in what is now the Milpas Creek district. From there, mission vineyards spread to San Jose, Santa Cruz, Carpinteria and Goleta  (an adobe winery built there in 1804 has the distinction of being the area’s old landmark).

But also like most of California’s wine regions, production in Santa Barbara was hurt by the late 1800s Phylloxera crisis and further brought down by the Prohibition between 1921 to 1933. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a U.C. Davis study identified Santa Barbara County as a favorable wine-growing region due to its combination of soil types, geology, water and coastal climate conditions Read more »

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Popular wines made in Santa Barbara under $20

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Varietals Produced in Santa Barbara View all

  • Viognier

    This special and exciting variety has taken California by storm and young plantings already demonstrate that this out...

  • Chardonnay

    British wine writer and critic, Jancis Robinson, once noted that throughout the 80’s and 90’s in the United States, C...

  • Syrah

    The irony here is that Syrah’s origins could give Carmen Sandiego a run for her international wallet. Syrah’s deepest...

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

    “King of the Red Wine Grapes.” The colonizer of the vineyards, pushing native wine grapes into its shadows. The Caber...

  • Sauvignon Blanc

    Sauvignon Blanc is widely grown in California -- at over 15,000 acres, it’s now the third most planted variety -- and...

  • Pinot Noir

    “With so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, they make the blood run hot,” Joel Fleischman, wine columnist at Van...

Subregions of Santa Barbara

  • Santa Rita Hills

    The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is located within Santa Barbara County in California’s Central Coast re...

Popular Wineries in Santa Barbara View all

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Santa Barbara on Snooth

  • Bedrock Wine Co. Bien Nacido Vineyard X-Block Syrah 2017


    Very nice wine. Light stone fruit on the tongue. Interesting spiciness--cinnamon--at mid-palate. Some very noticeable tannin. Not the biggest wine, but it is fairly full-bodied. Moderate finish. I have another bottle that I will ignore for some years. Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • The Ojai Vineyard John Sebastiano Vineyard Grenache 2014


    Attractive garnet color in the glass. Something of a tangy nose. Raspberry, red plum on the tip of the tongue. A sensation suggesting black licorice under the mid-palate. Fairly tart, Medium-bodied. Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • The Ojai Vineyard Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard 2012


    Interesting wine. For those who complain about new world wines being hyper-fruit forward, take a look at this one. It has only the slightest suggestion of fruit. What is there suggests blackberry or plum, but it only suggests. Nothing, at all, suggests sweetness. Some savoriness, mid-palate. Some pepperiness. No tannin to speak of. There ... Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • Flying Goat Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard 2013


    Murky, almost prune color in the glass. Tangy nose of stone fruit. Initial taste is of slightly over ripe stone fruit or, maybe, over ripe table grapes. Fairly full-bodied. Seems hot. Has a definite acidic spritz. Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • The Ojai Vineyard Santa Barbara County Riesling Special Botrytis Bottling 2011


    Very pretty straw color. Quite a shy nose, but I do get orange blossoms. Thick, viscous mouthfeel is the first thing I notice about ths wine. That, of course convinces me that I am getting honey flavors. I guess I am Various ripe fruits--apricot is the most obvious, but there is a touch of citrus, some papaya. A suggestion of baking spices... Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • Ojai Vineyard Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2013


    Very pleasant wine. On opening, there is a definite sulfur funk, but, happily, that blows off quickly. On the tongue there is very attractive tart cherry flavor. Very nice, refreshing acidic spritz. Some suggestions of baking spices, Medium-bodied--appropriate for a PN Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • Tercero Aberation Cabernet Franc 2016


    What you might expect from a full-cluster fermented wine aged in steel. Fairly light bodied, quite lean. Bright, tangy red fruit. I just thought of something, it has the exact same mouthfeel as cranberry juice. It doesn't taste, at all. like cranberry juice, but it has exactly the same body and leaves a tingly sensation on my tongue and pala... Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • Ojai Vineyard Kick On Ranch Pinot Noir 2016


    Very pretty garnet color. Something of a funky nose--it's had enough air for any sulfur to blow off. Red berries--cherry, strawberry--on the tip of the tongue--a tad sweeter than I would have preferred. Medium bodied. That funk seems to return under the rear palate. An OK wine, but not compelling. Read More

    Wine review by EMark

  • I agree.  I was able to find a Tedeschi Amarone 2013 for a recent virtual ... some Nebbiolo being grown in Santa Barbara and in the Baja California of Mexico with some promise.  But you'll still pay a high price, so you may not have advanced your position much from the original Italian examples.  The Mexican - if well made - may come through a... Read More

    Forum post in the topic What's your Choice of Wine...

  • Qupe Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate 2012


    Murky plum color in the glass. Similar "murky" nose--it smells old, not funky, old. E x t r e m l y mild fruit on entry. Dried fruit, but not sweet, at all. Some salinity. Some tartness. Tannins are completely resolved. An unusual, but completely enjoyable wine. Read More

    Wine review by EMark

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