2. Sta. Rita Hills
Sta. Rita Hills is a sub-AVA of the greater Santa Ynez Valley appellation, located in the cooler climate area to the west. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean results in fog-laden mornings followed by mid-morning sunshine. Almost like clockwork, ocean breezes pick up again in the early afternoon, moderating daily temperatures. This maritime influence combined with sedimentary soils with patches of diatomaceous earth and limestone provide an ideal place to grow the appellation’s hallmark Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
One of the smaller AVAs in California, the eastern edge of Sta. Rita Hills is about four miles west of Highway 101 in Buellton and continues to the western boundary, about two miles east of Highway 1 in Lompoc. The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is home to over 59 vineyards, totaling 2,700 hundred acres planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and 18 other cool climate wine grape varieties.
On the west edges of the Santa. Rita Hills, there is a cluster of tasting rooms dubbed, The Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Don’t let the industrial setting fool you, there are wines of great prominence here. A lot of the Santa. Rita Hills winemakers make their wine and have tasting rooms here. Wineries such as Palmina, Piedrasassi, Sweeter, Fiddlehead, Flying Goat Cellars, Sweetzer Cellars, Kessler-Haak, Transcendence Winery, Zotovich, Tyler, Holus Bolus, and Stolpman Vineyards.