Santa Rita Hills AVA in northern Santa Barbara County was granted appellation status in 2001. Located between the towns of Lompoc and Buellton, it has a total area of 30,720 acres with 2,700 vineyard acres. The area is considered a cool climate for vineyards, so vineyards are most often planted with the cool-weather grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The hills in the western part of this appellation are directly exposed to the Pacific Ocean, meaning that maritime winds and fog make the western edge of the Santa Rita Hills AVA particularly cool. The Sanford & Benedict Vineyard planted in 1971 was the first vineyard in the district and is still considered one of the best.
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.