By Dr. Kenneth Harwood

Economist, Solvang Chamber of Commerce

Santa Barbara County’s growers produced and sold $121 million of wine grapes in 2018. Leading in sales were $46 million of pinot noir grapes for 38 percent of all sales value.       

Other leading varieties of wine grapes were chardonnay at $35 million, syrah at $10 million, and sauvignon blanc at $7 million.

Pinot noir and chardonnay were the larger pair, while syrah and sauvignon blanc were the smaller. Pinot noir and syrah were the leading red wines. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc were the leading whites.

The film “Sideways” (2004) promoted pinot noir wines and grapes. Filming locations were in Buellton, Solvang, and other places in north Santa Barbara County. Since then, total sales value of pinot noir grapes have overtaken that of chardonnay here.

Harvested acres of pinot noir in Santa Barbara County in 2018 were 5,315, when those of chardonnay were 5,652. Average yield per acre was 3.30 tons of pinot noir and 3.98 of chardonnay. Pinot noir was the higher-priced grape at $2,640 a ton on average, while chardonnay was $1,550.

A bottle of wine represents more than three and a half pounds of wine grapes.

A tasting room offers wines of its own winery. A wine bar offers wines of all origins. Dozens of tasting rooms and wine bars are in the Santa Ynez Valley, including clusters in Los Olivos, Solvang, Buellton and Santa Ynez.

See the online Santa Barbara County Agricultural Production Report 2018, page 9, for details of wine production and sales. Go online to the film “Sideways” for plot details.