Part 3: A Fair Wind Is Blowing In Santa Barbara County

Posted: May 02, 2019

This last installment of our Sta. Barbara feature places it into great perspective. Thank you Robert Scott at Wine Line Market Masters.

If you are interested in details, here’s few for you. Santa Barbara County is comprised of 2,737 square miles. In comparison, Sonoma is 1,768 square miles. The highest point in Santa Barbara County is Big Pine Mountain at 6,803 ft. above sea level. Naturally, the lowest point is the Pacific Ocean. 450,000 people live in Santa Barbara County. SBC has over 200 wineries ranging in production size from 600 to 400,000 cases per year. SBC has six approved AVAs (American Vinicultural Areas) cultivating 7,720 acres of Chardonnay, 5,571 acres of Pinot Noir and a smattering of Syrah (1,930 acres), Sauvignon Blanc (830 acres), Cabernet Sauvignon (738 acres) and Grenache (495 acres).

The historic dislocation of the land mass caused a deposit of marine soils into the regions landscape. These soils are a direct result of sediments left by the receding Pacific Ocean and the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Rivers. You will find Chalk, limestone and diatomaceous earth. Sandy loam mixed with clay, gravel, chert and sedimentary river rock and sand… perfect conditions for grape growing.

The influence of the super cooled air coming in from the ocean drives the temperature down and extends the growing season up o 200 days before harvest. By comparison, the Cote D’ Or in Burgundy has a growing season of 160 days, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and the Willamette Valley in Oregon range from 160 - 175 days. This means that the hangtime for grapes in Santa Barbara County is greatly extended over other coastal wine growing regions., resulting in a level of balance between acidity and fruit that is hard to find elsewhere. And, I must say, those characterists are exhibited in the glass.

So, I advise you to explore the potential of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County. Compare the quality and complexity with others originating in other regions of California, Oregon and even Burgundy. I think you will agree with me that the wines of Santa Barbara, as produced by the Jackson Family Wines and other fine wineries, are on par or even a step above examples from more well known regions, both new and old world. Indeed, there is a fair wind blowing in Santa Barbara County and, it is blowing in your direction.

By Robert S. Scott for affiliate of
May 2, 2019
Photo: Ancient Soils

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