Individuality is the watchword in this still-emerging region. Visit soon for a taste of California’s frontier spirit...
Santa Barbara fact file:
Number of licensed wineries: More than 200
Total vineyard hectares: 8,095ha–10,526ha
AVAs: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Happy Canyon
Main grape varieties: 55 are grown. Most wineries focus on Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Grenache
When the critically acclaimed Jonata winery was exploring initial vineyard sites in Santa Barbara’s Santa Ynez Valley back in 2000, it invited select experts from across the globe to advise on everything from vineyard placement to density. The winemaker, Matt Dees, remembers one specific visit from a French winemaker from Bordeaux: ‘He walked around, saying little. After digging the soil a bit with his pocket knife, he snapped it shut and, with a pronounced sniff, told us to plant asparagus.’
Thankfully, Jonata ignored his advice (even naming a wine Defiance in honour of the snub) and proceeded to cultivate world-class wines, garnering high praise for its Bordeaux varietals, Syrah and Sangiovese wines.
Indeed, defiance is the watchword in Santa Barbara County. This still-emerging wine frontier resists stereotyping and simplification, due in large part to the region’s astonishing density of microclimates and intrepid winemakers who value individuality over rules.
Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦
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