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A portion of the Santa Ynez Valley, yet privileged with its own prestigious AVA (American Viticulture Area) designation, Santa Rita Hills covers a nearly 31,000 acre area running between the towns of Buellton on the east to Lompoc on the west. It rests between the Purisima Hills on its north and the Santa Rosa Hills to its south. It is 12 miles from the ocean, but due to the east-west configuration of its bordering hills, experiences a moderate climate, with sunny days and, often, foggy nights. Although ranches share the Santa Rita Hills with fields of vegetables, fruit and flowers, wine grape vineyards rule. The area hosts over 59 vineyards encompassing 2,700 acres blessed with the perfect micro-climate and soil for pinot noir, Syrah, chardonnay and over a dozen other cool climate wine grapes. Pinot noir is king here, however, with over 2,100 acres planted to it. The roster of premium wineries and vineyards based in the Santa Rita Hills reads like a “Who’s Who” of North American wine and includes names including Sanford, Alma Rosa, Flying Goat and Foley. Representing them is the 47 member Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.
Gateway to the Santa Rita Hills, the town of Buellton went from a few commercial and service establishments on the ranch of R.T. Buell in 1875, to a functioning community in 1920, and was finally incorporated in 1992. With a population of nearly 5,000, it joins the four other peaceful small towns of the Santa Ynez Valley with its combination of small town sensibilities and modern wine country sophistication. The variety of real estate in and around Buellton includes modest bungalows and mobile homes, to multi-million dollar wine and equine ranch estates.