Santa Ynez Valley AVA is home to more wineries than any other area in Santa Barbara County. The appellation was established in 1983 and it includes a total of 76,800 acres, of which 1,500 acres are vineyards. Chardonnay is the dominant grape in this appellation, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. The appellation runs east and west with temperatures and microclimates changing significantly from warmer in the east to cool by the time the district gets close to the Pacific Ocean. In recent years Rhone-style wines have been successfully made here, and vineyards now are also planted to Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, Mourvedre and Marsanne.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.