By Laurie Jervis

Noozhawk Columnist

The Santa Barbara Vintners, the organization that helps promote a majority of this county’s wineries, has received a grant to fund new marketing initiatives in the Los Angeles area.

The grant funding of $380,780 will be used to increase awareness about Santa Barbara County’s winemaking and wines, according to the organization.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced funding for the 2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which provides grants to state departments of agriculture in order to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Of the $72.4 million awarded nationwide, California received $22.9 million. Of that amount, the California Department of Food and Agriculture awarded grants ranging from $50,000 to $450,000 to nonprofit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities throughout the state.

By leveraging the “California Grown” identity, the Santa Barbara Vintners’ strategic marketing programs will “help broaden the exposure of and ultimately increase the sales of Santa Barbara County wines,” said Alison Laslett, CEO of the Santa Barbara Vintners.

“We are honored to have received such a generous amount to help implement targeted marketing initiatives in the Los Angeles area.”

The sum, Laslett noted, almost doubles the association’s entire budget and boosts its marketing budget to a new high.

“To have this kind of funding dedicated exclusively to promotion is exactly what the wine industry has been requesting,” she said.

Stephen Janes, president of the board of the Santa Barbara Vintners, echoed Laslett’s enthusiasm.

“Santa Barbara County — a wine region that is largely composed of small, family-owned businesses — has been impacted by the recent trend away from California-produced wine, so our goal is to swing the momentum back toward our region.”

Santa Barbara County is home to more than 200 wineries, and more than 16,000 acres of grapes devoted to 65-plus grape varieties.

Most of the acreage is devoted to chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah, but cabernet sauvignon, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and merlot also thrive in the region, as do various Rhône, Italian and Spanish varieties. 

Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via