Wine is now more popular than ever. From innovations that have made it much easier to make, to changing laws and regulations that support small start-up businesses and to people focusing on more natural production of food and drink, wine is now being made commercially in all 50 states. It is impossible to get an accurate count of how many small batch wineries there are in the United States because the number is constantly changing. Naturally, all of this is good news for wine drinkers everywhere, but it is also especially beneficial to the Santa Barbara wineries in particular.
Most people think of Napa Valley when it comes to California wine, and even though there have been several exceptional winemakers working in the Santa Barbara area for decades, they have always felt a bit overshadowed by their big brother to the north. Many of these wineries knew that they could not compete on the national level, so they instead began to focus on quality and not quantity. They began creating ultra-premium wines, many consisting of only a few thousand cases a year, and they offered them for sale only at their winery, a few select area shops and restaurants and occasionally through mail order.
Now that wine has exploded in popularity, people are beginning to broaden their horizons when it comes to what they will drink. However, there is still a certain cache that comes from the name "California wine." People know of the long standing history of quality wines, and thanks to the internet, it is possible to trace the lineage of some of these winemakers. Most of the Santa Ynez wineries and Santa Barbara wineries were started by people who spent a decade or more working at well known established vineyards before setting off on their own. They were attracted to the unique terroir of south-central California that allowed them to not only grow the varietals California was known for - Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - but also experiment with lesser known wines they have always had a passion for.
Today, many of the archaic shipping rules have been relaxed and it is possible to order wine for home delivery from some of these wineries. There are also several exceptional wine of the month clubs that focus on the wines and wineries of California. With a membership in these wine clubs, a person can receive one or more bottles a month from a new vineyard each month, all from the same region. With so many great wineries now finally gathering national attention, it is the perfect way to explore certain wine regions from the comfort of your own home.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been involved in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years.