Beautiful Santa Maria Valley stretches south from the northern tip of Santa Barbara County, California. In 1981 it was the first region in California’s Central Coast to be awarded official AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation. In fact, it’s the second oldest AVA in all of California.
The area is known for producing what some consider to be among California’s most outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These marquee varieties are greatly influenced by the appellation’s terroir.
Cool winds and fog flow in from the Pacific Ocean and settle in the Valley. However, the growing season here is a particularly long one – in fact, it’s among the longest in the world. These conditions contribute to the delightful balance of sugar and acidity in the wine produced here.
Santa Maria Valley boasts more than 30 winery tasting rooms for visitors to try. One of the best ways to taste wine from the oldest appellation in Santa Barbara County can be found via the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. Winding roads connect Santa Maria Valley to Los Olivos with over 15 beautiful vineyards along a 30-mile road with exceptional views!
To learn more about our winery ranking process, our CW score, or how we gather and analyze data, please click here.
Note: We do our best to maintain up to date information on all wineries featured. However, we recommend checking directly with a winery before planning a visit. If you find any information below that needs to be updated please let us know.
1. Cnagy Wines
CW Score: 87.5
Address: 2705 Aviation Way, Santa Maria, CA 93455
Overview: Owner and winemaker Clarissa Nagy happened on making wine quite by accident. While working in the wine industry, she made a barrel of 2002 Viognier as a wedding favor.
The wedding wine received rave reviews from those who tried it, one thing led to another, and three years later she found herself working with 3 different vineyards to produce her own brand of wine.
The most recent chapter in Clarissa’s story is the addition of a tasting room. She says about the new tasting room experience, “I’d love to be able to bring everyone into the vineyard and cellar to experience winemaking firsthand. Since that isn’t realistic, I offer you a taste of my labor.”
Tastings are by appointment only Monday through Saturday, with limited appointments on Sunday. The $10 tasting fee is waived with a two bottle purchase…so be sure to get a couple bottles to go.
2. Tantara Winery
CW Score: 83.1
Address: 2330 Westgate Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455
Overview: Tantara is a boutique winery, making world class wine in beautiful Santa Barbara County since 1997. While they’ve focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their start, varietals from their vineyards now include: Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Viognier and Carmenere.
Winemaker Rick Hill has been in charge of production since 2011, and a key to his wine making prowess is his commitment to source only the highest quality fruit.
Winery tours are by appointment only. Visitors can expect to taste wines from existing barrels, and learn more about how the wine is made on their private estate.
3. Rancho Sisquoc Winery
CW Score: 81.5
Address: 6600 Foxen Canyon Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454
Overview: Family-owned and operated by 6th generation ranchers and farmers, the Floods are the family behind Rancho Sisquoc Winery.
With origins as a cattle ranch, it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that the Mediterranean climate encouraged them to plant their first vineyards. With help from an experienced Napa Valley enologist, the correct grape varieties were planted and in 1972 their first wines were produced!
Gaining valuable experience throughout each vintage, the Floods began making award-winning estate wines. The beautiful label depicts the San Ramon chapel marking the entrance to Rancho Sisquoc.
Reservations are required to enjoy the outdoor setting where you can enjoy a wine flight, glass, or bottle of estate-grown wines. Cheers!
4. Presqu’ile Winery
CW Score: 78.5
Address: 5391 Presquile Dr, Santa Maria, CA 93455
Overview: Nestled in picturesque Santa Maria Valley, Presqu’ile is one of the most beautiful vineyards around. Presqu’ile captures a unique sense of place derived from its unique topographical features.
Presqu’ile focuses on making outstanding Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. They also pride themselves on hospitality in their tasting room, which sits high above a hill with spectacular vineyard and ocean views!
Enjoy incredible wine in an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind setting!
5. Riverbench Vineyard & Winery
CW Score: 64.3
Address: 6020 Foxen Canyon Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93454
Overview: Since planting the first vines in 1973, many award-winning wineries have purchased fruit from Riverbench Vineyard. In 2006, Riverbend began using their highly-sought after fruit to produce their own limited-run wine.
Located on the Sisquoc River in the southeastern part of the Santa Maria Valley, the beautiful Riverbench Vineyard consists of 115 acres of Pinot Noir, 15 acres of Chardonnay, and in 2015 added Pinot Meunier to its vineyards.
Enjoy their amazing wines from the outdoor garden overlooking the vineyard, or receive table service on their patio. Plan your visit ahead, as reservations are required.
Plan Your Visit to Santa Maria Valley’s Top Wineries
With these remarkable wineries in mind, it’s time to start planning your visit. We’ve partnered with some of the top travel brands to help you secure the best deals available and to make your trip truly unforgettable.
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Viator.com (a TripAdvisor company) is our recommended vendor for finding unbelievable local experiences to complement your time visiting wineries.
Guided tours, hot air balloon rides, and scavenger hunts are just a few of the types of excursions you can find to book on Viator.
Travel & Accommodations
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Great deals and discounted packages are just the start. Expedia will allow you to tailor your trip to fit your needs and preferences.
Whether you’re looking to book a first class flight, to stay at a 5 star hotel, or to book a quaint bed and breakfast, Expedia can help to secure your perfect travel arrangements across their vast network of travel and accommodation providers.
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