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 white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.