Santa Maria Valley Wine History
Santa Maria Valley Wine Country History
There are some isolated examples of vineyard development in the valley that date back to the 1790s. The Mission varietal was planted by Spanish Franciscans until the early 1810s. The city of Santa Maria was surveyed in 1875. The years around the turn of the century were a time of dramatic commercial and population expansion in Santa Barbara County.
In 1964, Uriel Nielson planted the first modern vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. Louis Lucas began planting what would eventually become 1,200 acres in 1972. Richard Sanford was pivotal in developing Pinot Noir in the region during these years. He realized that the varietal would develop more suitably in the cool climate than in warmer areas.
Today, the majority of the vineyards in Santa Barbara County are in Santa Maria Valley. In addition to grapes, avocados and citrus products are also widely grown in the AVA.
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