Santa Maria Valley AVA

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Santa Maria Valley AVA
Wine region
TypeAmerican Viticultural Area
Year established1981, amended 1985[1]
CountryUnited States
Part ofCentral Coast AVA, California
Climate regionRegion I
Total area98,790 acres (40,000 ha)[citation needed]
Size of planted vineyards7,500 acres (3,000 ha)[2]
Grapes producedAligote, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Grenache, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Mondeuse, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Silvaner, Syrah, Tocai Friulano, Viognier, Zinfandel[2]

Santa Maria Valley is an American Viticultural Area located in northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County, California, United States.


This appellation is the oldest in this portion of California.[3] Grape growing in this region dates back to the Mexican Colonial period of the 1830s.[4] In the late 1960s commercial vineyards were planted to supply wineries around the state. Since then, vineyards in the valley have come to encompass 7,500 acres (3,000 ha).[2]


The Santa Maria Valley is a natural funnel-shaped valley opening west to the Pacific Ocean. The elevation of the area ranges from approximately 200 feet (60 m) at the intersection of Highway 101 and the Santa Maria River to approximately 3,200 feet (980 m) at Tepusquet Peak. The grapes that are grown within the area are on the valley floor at an approximate elevation of 300 feet (90 m) and on the slopes and rolling hillsides up to an elevation of 800 feet (240 m). The soils within the area range in texture from a sandy loam to clay loam and are free from adverse salts.[4]


Since the valley opens to the ocean, there is no opposition to the sea fog that moves in overnight, engulfing lower lying vineyards, and often lingering into mid-day. This creates a cool growing environment that is a Region I on the Winkler Scale.[5] The valley features a long growing season and very little rainfall, meaning grapes have extensive time to build flavor on the vine.[6]

Monthly normal and record high and low temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec high °F 86 89 95 103 100 102 104 103 103 108 93 90
Norm high °F 63.9 64.8 64.8 67.6 68.6 71.4 73.5 74.2 74.9 74 69.2 64.9
Norm low °F 39.3 41.4 42.7 43.4 46.9 50.4 53.5 54.2 52.9 48.2 41.8 38.2
Rec low °F 5 22 24 31 31 36 43 43 36 26 25 20
Precip (in) 2.64 3.23 2.94 0.91 0.32 0.05 0.03 0.05 0.31 0.45 1.24 1.84
Source: [1]

Varieties Grown[edit]

Owing to the cool growing climate, the valley is best known for its Pinot noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot blanc.[citation needed]


Solomon Hills Vineyard was one of the vineyards included with the expansion of the Santa Maria AVA.

On January 28, 2011, the southern border of the Santa Maria Valley AVA was adjusted to bring it into closer alignment with the physical watershed boundary of the Santa Maria River. The revised boundary approximately follows the ridge line dividing the Santa Maria Valley from the Los Alamos Valley. This change added 18,790 acres and nine vineyards to the area.


  1. ^ "§ 9.28 Santa Maria Valley" (Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas). Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved June 26, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Santa Maria Valley (AVA): Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "A History of Bien Nacido". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b "Santa Maria Valley Viticultural Area Final Rule". Wine Institute. Archived from the original on August 14, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Santa Maria Valley AVA". Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Santa Maria Valley". Winegeeks. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)