Santa Barbara County – Wine Region of the Year & Winemaker of the Year

For the first time, Santa Barbara County has been nominated for two prestigious awards from Wine Enthusiast Magazine: Wine Region of the Year, and Winemaker of the Year for Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton.

“The spotlight is beginning to shine on Santa Barbara Wine Country, and we could not be more proud,” said Alison Laslett, CEO of Santa Barbara Vintners. “Those who visit our region know they can explore wines that rival the finest in the world. We’re thrilled that more wine lovers are beginning to discover this hidden Southern California gem and experiencing the talent and passion of our wine community.”

Located less than two hours from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County is a patchwork quilt of micro-climates and terrains that make up seven AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). Accomplished Winemaker Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton is from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, known for its cooler climate ideal for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “The honor that I feel to receive this prestigious Wine Enthusiast nomination is only rivaled by that which I have felt to represent the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County for the entirety of my 30-year career,” said Brewer.

Recently, Santa Barbara Wine Country has begun to receive increased notoriety for the quality and breadth of its wines. This year, Santa Barbara Vintners received its first CDFA grant and launched a new marketing campaign entitled, “West of France. Just North of L.A.” It’s a nod to the region’s high-quality, internationally recognized wines, and the close proximity to Los Angeles. The marketing campaign has been designed specifically to share this old-world region with fast-paced Angelenos who crave a break. It also has so many varietals, one can return to Santa Barbara County again and again, having a different experience each time. Through digital advertising, media coverage and social media engagement, wine lovers in LA are discovering the bucolic wine region that lies nearby.

The region started with the establishment of the second AVA in California and the third in the US: Santa Maria Valley (1981), known for Bien Nacido, cool winds, fog and sandy soils perfect for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Santa Ynez Valley (1983) was a massive collection of climates and soils, having the most diverse winegrape plantings in the world in the 30 miles from Lake Cachuma to Lompoc. Sta. Rita Hills (2000) carved out the perfect Region 1, cool-climate area between Lompoc and the Buellton Flats. Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (2009) provides a hot, arid location with large temperature swings, perfect for Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc. Ballard Canyon (2013) is a peripheral promontory with marginal climate perfect for mostly Rhone varietals. Los Olivos District (2016) was a necessary boundary that expresses the ‘core’ of the SYV AVA, containing many of the most venerable and important vineyard sources in Santa Ynez Valley (for Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Italian, French and Spanish wine varieties). Alisos Canyon (2020) was established this year and is revered for its Rhone-style varietals.


Santa Barbara Vintners (Santa Barbara County Vintners Association) is a non-profit 501(c)6 organization founded in 1983 to support and promote Santa Barbara County as a world-class wine producing and wine grape growing region. The association includes winery members whose annual production is at least 75% Santa Barbara County (or sub-AVA) labeled, winery associates, vineyards, vineyard management companies, hospitality, and industry associate members. The association produces festivals and wine country weekends; educational seminars and tastings; provides information to consumers, trade, and media; and advocates for the Santa Barbara County wine and grape industry.


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