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.
One of the most popular red varieties planted, it ripens late and prefers hot dry climates. It probably originated in Spain, where it is still widely grown. Grenache is best known for its use in Southern Rhone wines, including those of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.