South Central Coast: Santa Maria Valley

The wineries are easily accessible and within a 20 minute drive of each other. All the wineries and tasting rooms in Santa Maria Valley are family owned. This is a rarity in the wine business. Even the larger Kendall-Jackson properties, Cambria and Byron, remain family owned. Santa Maria Valley, once known only for its row crops and cattle ranches, is now recognized for its Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and cool-climate Syrahs. A Santa Maria Valley Wine Trail (see includes Presqu'ile, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Costa De Oro Winery, McKeon Phillips, Rancho Sisquoc, Cambria, Byron, Foxen, and Cottonwood Canyon.

Recommended Wineries

Bien Nacido Vineyards
Tasting Room2963 Grand Ave., Los Olivos, CA 93441; open Thursday-Monday
WinemakerTrey Fletcher
OwnerStephen Miller
CommentsSolomon Hills Vineyard and Bien Nacido Vineyard under same management. Grapes provided to numerous California producers as well as estate wines. Tours of vineyard available by special appointment only.
PoP coverageBien Nacido Vineyards
Byron Vineyard & Winery
Tasting RoomBy appointment.
Production25,000 cases Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah.
WinemakerJonathan Nagy
OwnerArtisan & Estates
CommentsEstablished by Ken Brown in 1984.
PoP coverageByron Vineyard & Winery
Cambria Estate Vineyard and Winery
Tasting RoomOpen daily, 10-5. Tours by appointment. Picnic area and picnic supplies.
Production20,000 cases Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah
WinemakerDenise Shurtleff
CommentsEstablished in 1987.
Foxen Winery
Tasting RoomOpen daily 11-4. Tours by appointment.
Production12,000 cases Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Syrah.
WinemakerWilliam Wathen
OwnerWilliam Wathen
CommentsEstablished in 1985. Full-throttle, richly fruited Pinot Noirs.
PoP coverageFoxen Winery
Presqu'ile Winery
Tasting RoomTours and tastings at spectacular hilltop tasting room and winery open daily.
WinemakerDieter Cronje
OwnerMurphy family
CommentsEstate vineyard and Santa Maria AVA wines including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Nebbiolo and Sauvignon Blanc.
PoP coveragePresqu’ile Winery

Recommended Lodging

Holiday Inn
Radisson Hotel
Comments Note: Lodging in Shell Beach, San Louis Obispo, Edna Valley, and Santa Ynez Valley about a 45 drive from Santa Maria Valley.

Recommended Restaurants

Chef Ricks
CommentsLouisiana, Southwest and Southern California influences. Excellent.
Dino's Deli
CommentsGreat gourmet sandwiches for a wine country picnic. near the Santa Maria, Tepesquet and Foxen Canyon Wine Trails. The adjoining gourmet grocery has one of Santa Maria's largest wine selections, with more than 400 labels.
Far Western Tavern
CommentsVery casual, steaks.
Santa Maria Valley BBQ
CommentsOn the weekends, there are makeshift Santa Maria barbecue pits on corners and various locations. Santa Maria tri tip steak and pinquito beans are a featured and treasured cuisine of this region.
Shaws Famous Steakhouse
CommentsGo for the tri-tip.
Wine Cottage Bistro
CommentsWine country cuisine with many local wines. Winemaker dinners.

Appellation Websites