A Sustainable Wine Roadtrip: The Santa Maria Valley
Planning a wine tasting trip is oftentimes overwhelming with the sheer amount of wineries available to visit, their proximity to each other, and the array of varietals and price points offered in one area. Honing in on certified sustainable wineries is a great way to plan a trip and on this particular trip, we head to the Santa Maria Valley. An area comprised of over 2,500 vineyard acres, oriented from east to west routing ocean air directly into the valley, and with a steady Mediterranean climate yields one of California’s longest growing seasons. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah prosper in the Santa Maria Valley, but there are many under-discovered varietals the valley has to offer.
Depending on which way you want to go along this route, Riverbench is a great starting or completion point. Planted in the 1970s, the Riverbench vineyard grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Reisling, and a number of other varietals, including Pinot Meunier (the first in Santa Barbara County) which is integral to their sparkling wine program. Since 2010, the vineyard is SIP Certified and committed to sustainable practices with programs set up to operate their business to be environmentally sound, socially equitable, and environmentally feasible. Visiting their Santa Maria Valley location (they also have a tasting room in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone) is a great way to enjoy views of their vineyard, play some bocce ball or horseshoes, and enjoy their estate wines.
Nothing short of stunning, a visit to Presqu’ile offers views of the Santa Maria Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Planted in 2007, this sustainably farmed vineyard boasts over 7 varieties including the mainstays of the valley along with Nebbiolo and Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting at Presqu’ile is an excellent second stop along your way as they have a professional chef and offer tastings paired with food. Known for their excellent expression of cool climate varietals, Presqu’ile is a mainstay in the area.
Rooted in female leadership, Cambria Winery is part of Jackson Family Wines and have farmed their estate vineyard sustainably for over 30 years. As part of the SIP Certified program, they are committed to a holistic approach to business and were named one of Wine and Spirits’ top 100 wineries of 2020. Visits to Cambria Winery are filled with educational amenities and you can enjoy views of the vineyard while learning about all things Cambria. Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays abound and you can experience understanding nuances between clones and hyper-local terroir all with exceptional hospitality.