There are five distinct, wine growing regions in Santa Barbara County. The Santa Maria Valley in the north was the first recognized, quickly followed by the Santa Ynez Valley further south. Within the long, east-west corridor of the Santa Ynez Valley are two smaller appellations; the very cool Sta. Rita Hills to the far west, and the significantly warmer Happy Canyon to the far east.
Between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations is Los Alamos Valley. It is not yet designated as an official winegrowing region but important nonetheless. The majority of Bedford wines comes from this location.
LOS ALAMOS VALLEY
Situated between two acclaimed appellations, the grapes in Los Alamos seem to have the best of both worlds; the long, cool growing season of Santa Maria, and the warmth of the Santa Ynez Valley to ensure complete ripeness and depth. With warm days and very cold nights, the fruit from this region achieves incredible concentration and balance. Its slight, well drained soils and a wide range of microclimates allows for a diversity of varietals. Because Los Alamos Valley is not an official appellation, you won’t see it on a wine label – “Santa Barbara County” is used instead. But you should not be surprised to see Los Alamos Valley vineyard names specified on the label.
Los Alamos, which means “The Cottonwoods” in Spanish, is a off-beat, western town just off the 101 freeway between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations. The area around Los Alamos has a temperate climate all its own – ten degrees cooler than Santa Ynez Valley to the south and ten degrees warmer than Santa Maria Valley to the north-east. Los Alamos Valley is bounded to the north by Solomon Hills and to the south by La Purisima Hills.
“Los Alamos Valley has as much right to wine legitimacy as Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills, which it resembles in its comparable coolness. Like those two AVAs, Los Alamos Valley also grows thousands of acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as smaller experimental acres of Italian varieties.”
New California Wine