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County Vintners Hail Federal Ruling on AVA Boundaries for Santa Maria Valley

The changes are seen as a boon to strengthening the overall wine industry

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has amended the boundaries of the Santa Maria Valley American Viticulture Area. The new boundaries will take effect Jan. 28.

AVAs are federally recognized regions where grapes are grown.

Nicholas Miller, spokesman for Thornhill Companies, parent company of Miller-family owned Bien Nacido Vineyards and Solomon Hills Vineyards, said the ruling will help vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley AVA better market themselves.

He said AVAs are groupings of similar growing conditions based on temperature and rainfall, among other terrain characteristics. Santa Barbara County has four AVAs: the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Happy Canyon and the Santa Maria Valley.

“(The ruling) helps consumers understand the Santa Maria Valley AVA better,” Miller said. “Vineyards orphaned in no man’s land are being given a home. It was quite an accomplishment to see whole wine community bring this together.”

One of the vineyards that has been totally incorporated into the Santa Maria Valley AVA is the Miller family’s Solomon Hills.

“Boundaries existed for no good reason other than roads,” Miller said. “The expansion redrew barriers to make sense geographically.”

The ruling faced no objections from the community during the comment period of the AVA incorporation process.

“Everyone was on board,” Miller said. “The proposed expansion faced no objections throughout the comment period.”

Miller said he sees the ruling as a way to strengthen Santa Barbara County’s wine industry.

“Every time we strengthen an AVA within Santa Barbara County, it strengthens the overall wine industry in the county,” he said. “It’s a success for each smaller area works together for a greater good within Santa Barbara County.”

Although Santa Barbara County has been hit by the economic recession, Miller said he thinks it is well-positioned.

“An area like Napa is built on high-end wines with prices starting at more than $100 per bottle,” he said. “Santa Barbara County is good at adapting to the economic climate. Wines that sell for less than $20 per bottle are doing quite well.”

Vineyards that will become part of the Santa Maria Valley AVA include Addamo Estate Vineyards, Solomon Hills, Casa Torres Winery & Vineyard, Le Bon Climat Vineyards, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Foxen, Rancho Real and Murphy Vineyards.

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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