Santa Barbara County Wine, Part 9: Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail: Deep Wine Country
The Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail lies between Lompoc and Buellton in Santa Barbara Wine Country. It is aligned with the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, one of the smallest in California, and a subset of the Santa Ynez AVA. This is deep wine country. So much so that when Vina Santa Rita, a Chilean winery, filed a complaint against Santa Rita Hills AVA, the final agreement resulted in a slight name change. In 2006, Santa Rita Hills AVA became Sta. Rita Hills AVA. One man’s Santa is another’s Sta. Such is the business of wine!
Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail: Historic Vineyards
The Santa Rita Hills are perfect for the cultivation of cool climate grape varietals such as pinot noir and chardonnay. This is because the hills run east-west instead of north-south, and this brings cool Pacific air currents and fog into the valley, keeping temperatures lower than the surrounding areas. From Lompoc
The famous and historic Sanford & Benedict vineyard was planted here in 1971. Today there are about 59 vineyards growing many different varietals, but pinot noir and chardonnay remain the true spirits of this region.
Start your day with breakfast in Lompoc at Central Coast Specialty Foods or pick up picnic supplies. Head to Sanford Winery to see the Sanford & Benedict vineyard. Neither family-owned Melville Winery nor biodynamic Sea Smoke have local tasting rooms but you can visit the dramatic LEED certified winery at Hilliard-Bruce.
For accommodations, try Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals for a local experience in the unspoiled natural setting of the area. Call a local caterer for a private dinner on the patio.
Pure Santa Barbara Wines and Natural Beauty
The undeveloped Santa Rita Hills are covered with acres of ranchland and orchards surrounding the many vineyards.
Dierberg Vineyard has a historic pedigree as it is owned by the same family that owns the famed Hermannhof Winery in Missouri, one of the nation’s oldest wineries just west of St. Louis. At Dierberg you find pinot noir and chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills plus Bordeaux varietals from Happy Canyon. Their Star Lane Vineyard in Happy Canyon is also the source for Martellotto’s Happy Canyon wines.
Near Dierberg is Spear Winery Company whose vineyards are organic. Martellotto sources their pinot noir from here due to the high-quality fruit. Pence Vineyards is a working ranch with a real sense of community. Enjoy a picnic lunch by the pond, go horseback riding or take a hike on one of the many trails.
For a bit of adventure, why not try Sky Dive Santa Barbara? First-time divers receive special care. For something less daring, visit beautiful Jalama Beach County Park, about a 30-minute drive from Lompoc.
The popular Holiday Inn Express in Lompoc is a good choice for a place to stay.
Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail: A Deep & Historic Wine Experience
A visit to the Santa Rita Hills Wine Trail is an unforgettable experience where history, wine and the natural environment are alive.