Surprising Santa Barbara

Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara

California's most unusual, and most varied, wine region explained. The vines above are basking in Happy Canyon, the warmest subregion of Santa Barbara. See also Santa Barbara's Sta Rita Hills.

Santa Barbara was launched into the consciousness of most mainstream wine drinkers 19 years ago with the release of the film Sideways. Despite a starring role in that narrative, however, Santa Barbara continues to be undervalued as a fine wine region, perhaps in part due to its size and complexity. But make no mistake about it, Santa Barbara now makes some of California’s finest wines.

The sheer diversity of...