Established in 2001, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA is a unique, ultra-cool climate growing area located in the westernmost section of the Santa Ynez Valley. Situated at the foot of Point Conception with the Purisima Mountains to the north and the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south, the mountains form the most significant western running corridor into the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Chile.
The AVA benefits from brisk daily ocean breezes and early forming, late dissipating maritime fog which blankets the vineyards and makes the Sta. Rita Hills one of the coolest growing regions in the world. The soil types are varied, with marine sand, loam, clay and limestone widely found. Elevations range from virtual sea level to eighteen hundred feet.
The area is semi-arid, with average rainfall of thirteen inches annually. Almost all rainfall comes between the months of December and May. This permits vintners the opportunity to allow fruit extended "hang time", without the menace of fall rains that afflict other Pinot Noir and Chardonnay growing regions. The extreme nature of the Sta. Rita Hills, in particular, the cold, windy climate lead to the low yields that create Pinot Noirs of great density of color, and overall intense flavor characteristics in all wines.
In "Sideways", wine geek Miles Raymond’s search for luscious red wines made from pinot noir leads him to the right place: Santa Barbara County is one of the USA’s finest regions for growing the finicky grape…A few of the notable producers to look for: Foley
February 25, 2005