From the windswept Pacific coastline where ‘refrigerated sunshine’ slowly ripens Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, to the rugged beauty of the rain shadow cast by the Sierra Madre Mountains over sites planted to Bordeaux and Rhone varieties, Santa Barbara County is perhaps the best expression of California’s diverse and exciting modern wine scene. Two parallel, transverse mountain ranges are the most important influence: the San Rafael Range, and Santa Ynez Mountains on the county’s southern border, which funnel hyper-cooled air inland from the Pacific Ocean. The southerly Santa Ynez Valley AVA dominated the region, stretching from Sta. Rita Hills in the west (a nirvana for Pinot and Chardonnay), passing through the ‘Goldilocks Rhône Zone’ of Ballard and Larner Canyons, to the highlands of Happy Canyon which is emerging as a serious player for Cabernet Sauvignon. With low production, extremely high quality, and very attractive pricing, Santa Barbara County is a force to be reckoned with.