Four years ago, the uniquely Pinot-friendly climate of Santa BarbaraCounty seemed better known to starlings and mule deer than winedrinkers. And then the Oscar-winning movie Sideways turned thecentral-California appellation into the Cabbage Patch doll of the wineworld. The public demand for Santa Barbara Pinot Noir was suddenly andseemingly insatiable: Winery mailing lists filled up, and localrestaurants like the Hitching Post II became crowded with touriststraipsing after the film's raffish stars.
Even more remarkably, PinotNoir sales nationwide jumped 45 percent over the next year as winedrinkers developed a hankering for the grape rhapsodized in the filmas "the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling andancient on the planet." Of course, the groundwork for many of thesechanges was laid long before AS SEEN IN SIDEWAYS signs were postedaround the country. A number of important new wineries were in theworks around the time that Sideways debuted—among them Alma Rosa andJonata—and the amount of acreage under vine was at a record high.Indeed, the growth of the $500 million Santa Barbara County wineindustry has much more to do with three decades of hard work than itdoes with the success of a popular Hollywood film.
- 2005 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Viognier
- 2006 Qupé Bien Nacido Cuvée Santa Maria Valley
- 2004 Gainey Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley Merlot
- 2005 Cambria Bench Break Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
- 2005 Sanford Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
More F&W coverage
- Behind the Scenes in SantaBarbara
A look at Santa Barbara’s post-Sideways transformation.
- FiveWeekend Escapes: Santa Barbara County
A rundown of Santa Barbara County restaurants, hotels and wineries.
- Wine Matters: TheSecret Vineyard
Lettie Teague investigates Santa Barbara’s Bien Nacido vineyard.
- 10 Best Online Wine Shops
These e-merchants stand above the rest for ease of use and selection.
- Niche Wine Blogs
Here, five wine blogs that have carved out smart and focused niches in the wine Web.
Other great Web resources
- LonelyPlanet: Santa Barbara
Independent advice on traveling in Santa Barbara.
- Santa Barbara:The American Riviera
A guide to hotels, restaurants, wineries and events from the SantaBarbara Conference and Visitors bureau.
- Santa Barbara Chamberof Commerce
More hotels, restaurants and attractions.
- Santa BarbaraCounty Vintners Association
Publishers of a useful winery map.
- Winecountry.com:Santa Barbara
Travel info for Santa Barbara, as well as other U.S. wine regions.