Santa Maria Valley is the northernmost AVA of Santa Barbara County. Established in 1981, the Santa Maria Valley is a funnel-shaped AVA which is broad and open at the town of Santa Maria, and progressively narrows heading east up the Santa Maria and Sisquoc River drainage. Framed between the San Rafael Mountains on the north, and the Solomon Hills to the south, the majority of the vineyards are planted on elevated plateaus or along the river bench of the Santa Maria River mesa and Sisquoc River drainage. The soils are typically of marine origin and sedimentation of river wash. Typically, the soils are extremely well-drained and range from clay loam to sandy loam. The Santa Maria Valley has a coastal maritime climate and receives onshore airflows from northwesterly winds blowing off nearby San Luis Bay.
This maritime climate maintains an average temperature of 64 degrees in the town of Santa Maria. The heat summations of the area range from Region 1 to Region 2 (where Region 1 is the coolest and Region 5 is the warmest). This truly cool climate viticultural region boasts one of the longest wine-growing seasons in California. The cool climate produces wines with low pHs, exceptionally high natural acidity, and intense flavors. The area is dominated by Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production, and the eastern portion of the AVA has had success with Rhone and Bordeaux varieties.