Having been approached, by members of the Santa Maria Valley tourism group to write an article for Grape Experiences, I’m delighted to share the following guest post. I encourage you to visit this beautiful wine region, one that I’ve explored and appreciated. Read on…
In the Santa Maria Valley, wine tastes better when you kick your feet up. Our focus is on the extended growing season with complex soil conditions and diverse microclimates, the notably balanced grapes, and the casual environment where we serve our wine. The vibe of the Santa Maria Valley is distinct from other popular California locales in that we put on no airs. We welcome visitors with open arms, no questions asked. We invite people to come here and just be themselves.
Casual, Relaxed and Approachable
Our pace of life is much like our growing season: slower, sustained, and never rushed. We emphasize the power of togetherness and that goes for our winemakers too. They aren’t just a name on a label – they’re present, accessible and welcoming when you come by for a tasting. The Santa Maria Valley wine experience can be describes as very unpretentious. We actually prefer you swirl ‘til you spill!
There is such a pioneering spirit here in the Santa Maria Valley. The growers in the 1960s took a risk to plant wine grapes here, at a time when it was generally considered too cool of a region to grow grapes. In the 1980s and early 90s, the next generation of growers began planting different clones of grape varietals to see what grew best here. The Santa Maria Valley benefited from these experiments and their knowledge. Honoring tradition and an openness to try things not yet done is the grounding force of our wine culture. Clarissa Nagy, Nagy Wines
The Santa Maria Valley Landscape
The Central Coast’s most historic wine lives here in the Santa Maria Valley. We have the oldest appellation in the area and nearly two centuries of experience in growing grapes. The Santa Maria Valley is one of the most agriculturally diverse regions in the U.S. with a wealth of fruits and vegetables grown on the valley floor and vineyards hugging the hillsides. It’s a place where flavor runs rampant and taste buds can indulge because what they serve is grown, cooked and corked right here. Santa Maria has one of California’s longest growing seasons and a truly rare transverse geography resulting in the development of complex, flavorful and balanced grapes. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah are our specialties. These are composed of well-drained soils that also contribute to exceptional fruit intensity and flavor concentration.
The Santa Maria Valley is a recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) within Santa Barbara County; the AVA encompasses one of the top wine regions in the world. Other AVAs include the Santa Ynez Valley which is then broken down into four sub-AVAs (West to East): Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. The Santa Maria Valley is located within 45 minutes of these AVAs and 8 wine trails in the Santa Barbara County.
The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail connects Los Olivos and the Santa Maria Valley; this journey that gets you out of the city and into the country. There are meandering roads and breathtaking views with tucked-away vineyards along the trail. Excellent weather makes visiting the Santa Maria Valley easy year-round, with temperatures averaging 69 degrees.
A 150-Year Old Barbecue Tradition
A great complement to Santa Maria Valley wines is Santa Maria-style barbecue, which centers around beef tri-tip or sirloin combined with a simple seasoning then grilled over red oak wood. The traditional accompaniments include pinquito beans, fresh salsa, tossed green salad, and grilled French bread dipped in sweet melted butter.
How to Get to the Santa Maria Valley
Santa Maria is approximately 3 hours from Los Angeles, and approximately 4 ½ hours from San Francisco. Santa Maria has an airport with direct flights to and from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Neighboring cities such as Santa Barbara (SBA) and San Luis Obispo (SBP) also have airports.
There are plenty of places to stay in Santa Maria and the surrounding area. Typically, hotel areas of interest are within a relatively short drive’s distance. Hotel rates are more affordable than some of the more known tourist-destination spots, so you’ll have plenty in your pocket to explore. A map of the Santa Maria Wine Country can be found here.
Tour a land where grapes grow as far as the eye can see, visit sprawling vineyards, taste smooth wine and experience down-home fun…all come together to create something that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that you’re sure you never want to leave behind.
Christmas on the Trail – December 10 & 11, 2016
The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is hosting Christmas on the Trail on December 10 and 11, 2016, featuring 13 wineries along the historic Foxen Trail.
Guests will receive a passport with 20 squares printed on the back. Each square equals a 1 oz. pour that they can redeem at any of the 13 participating wineries. Each passport is accompanied with a commemorative item, a GoVino logo glass, special wine discounts and small bites at each winery on Saturday.
The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail is the epitome of the beauty of Central California. The wineries on Foxen Canyon produce award-winning wines in a friendly, welcoming setting, while also providing jobs in viticulture and in the service industry.
The participating wineries are: Andrew Murray Vineyards, Cambria Winery, Cottonwood Canyon Winery, Fess Parker Winery, Firestone Vineyard, Foxen Vineyard & Winery, foxen 7200, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Koehler Winery, Martian Ranch & Vineyard, Rancho Sisquoc Winery, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, Tres Hermanas Winery, and Zaca Mesa Winery.
Passports are $45 each and can be purchased through Eventbrite here. For more information on the event, contact Elizabeth Gunn-Baumann.
Cheers to wines from Santa Maria Valley wines! ~ Cindy