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

    History of the grape: Viognier is thought to be an indigenous grape of Croatia that was brought to the Rhone in Franc...

  • Pinot Noir

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

  • Sauvignon Blanc

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

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

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

  • Syrah

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

  • Chardonnay

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

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

  • Babcock Vineyards

    With new vineyards currently being planted, a new barrel aging facility, and a renowned winemaker...

  • J. Wilkes Wines

    The roots of our new beginning actually took hold in 1984. I had just accepted a position with Bi...

  • Bedford Thompson Winery & Vineyard

    Stephan Bedford was born in the wrong century. His reverence for the past and an appreciation for...

  • Alchemy Wine Productions

    Alchemy Wine Productions combines the forces  of Nic & Gracey Donahue, two free-spirited indivi...

  • Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Winery

    Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post wines are made by Buellton Hitching Post owner/chef Frank Ostini and...

  • Mandolina

    Originally planted from cuttings brought from Italy's legendary vineyards, Lucas & Lewellen's Ita...

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Santa Barbara on Snooth

  • I go to S. Calif every winter to visit family and drive up to Santa Barbara for a day to visit vineyards. We've now been to quite a few vineyards and among our favorites are Zaca Mesa, Koehler and Bridlewood.  But the stand-out vineyard was Demetria. You need a reservation to visit, but it's worth it. It's at the end of a long winding private ro... Read More

    Forum post in the topic California Central Coast


  • Ojai Vineyard Santa Barbara County Syrah Presidio Vineyard 2008

    Snoothrank:

    Attractive purple in the glassnot inky dark. Some rea fruit and, maybe, some anise on the nose. Very easy on the tongue red fruit flavorsplum, raspberry, and, maybe some tropical hints. At mid-to-rear palate, tannins emerge, more or less, negating the fruit flavors. When a bit of acid tartness kicks in, this becomes a refreshing wine. This i... Read More

    Wine review by EMark


  • The Ojai Vineyard White Hawk Vineyard Sangiovese 2012

    Snoothrank:

    Very attractive red color in the glass. Not the biggest nose in the worldmostly, earthy, slightly musty herbal thing. Very light (for red wine) bodied, and, wow, tart. I love the acidity of Sangiovese-based Chianti, but this is way, way over the top. There are some red-fruit flavors herecherry, raspberrybut they are also very light. Its sim... Read More

    Wine review by EMark


  • Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County 2013

    Snoothrank:

    Fearless red berry and cherry aromas with heat and spice in equal measure. Good floral aromas, mountain herbs and a touch of violet. In the mouth, it's quite fruit forward, full of red fruit, mostly cherry but with some strawberry, cranberry and even watermelon though that's much lighter. Fresh acidity and good structure support the fruit flavor... Read More

    Wine review by Snooth Editorial


  • I was in SB/ Lompoc/ Los Olivos last year and I need to go back ... that picks us up at the Santa Barbara train station and takes us to some wineries over in the Lomploc/Santa Ynez area.  Not clear what wineries, but the list that I saw did have some interesting ones--and, sadly, some boring ones.  My understanding is that at pickup the driver ... Read More

    Forum post in the topic Whatcha drinking tonight?


  • Hey Rex,We caught the wine bug years ago with a trip to Napa.  My wife and ... ... in the US, including Santa Barbara, Washington, Oregon, NY (Long Island and the Finger Lakes), even our home state of NJ.  We've made visits in Portugal Australia, the Dalmatian coast (including Grgich in his native Croatia) plus multiple trips to Italy, Spain a... Read More

    Forum post in the topic How did your wine interest...


  • Zaca Mesa Syrah Mesa Reserve 2009

    Snoothrank:

    Lots of black fruit on introduction, but, happily, missing the sweet sensation that is usually associated with a fruit forward wine. On the other hand, there seems, in fact to be a slight bitterness similar to unsweetened cocoa, instead. As the wine moves towards the back and the edges of the tongue, refreshing acid tartness causes the bitter... Read More

    Wine review by EMark


  • Byron Chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2013

    Snoothrank:

    Medium intensity aromas of lemon, pear, and toast. Crisp apple flavors show first on the palate, with tangerine, pineapple and lemon following behind. Smooth and clean, it's definitely a dry wine but with some perceived sweetness because of the fresh acidity, warm climate fruit and the vanilla notes of the oak. Read More

    Wine review by Snooth Editorial


  • Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Southing 2012

    Snoothrank:

    As promised. Dried Cranberries, Wild Cherries and Vanilla. Great job Sea Smoke 2012. Thanks Bob, Sea Smoke, Jordan and Anthony @ Barolo Ristorante. Read More

    Wine review by William Djubin


  • Sea Smoke 2012

    Snoothrank:

    Santa Rita Hills best 2012. Thanks Sea Smoke and Bob Hudon of Stacole Wines.Dried Cranberry, wild cherries and Vanilla. Read More

    Wine review by William Djubin


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