Most people, when traveling to Santa Barbara County, especially wine country, visit Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez, Lompoc, Los Olivos, and Los Alamos. They usually forget about the town of Santa Maria, the region’s best-kept secret.
Santa Maria Valley is the most northern Appellation of Santa Barbara County’s AVAs. You might say the area is made up of three towns, Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Old Town Orcutt, because they are all intertwined. A visit must include visiting Old Town Orcutt.
Santa Maria Style Barbecue
The area is most known for its Santa Maria Style Barbecue. This barbecue style is a long tradition and dates back to the 1800s when local rancheros would host barbecues for cowboys. The secret is the native ingredients and special seasonings, including salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
Most popular is the Tri-Tip, considered the signature cut of meat for any Santa Maria Style Barbecue. Meat is cooked over coals of local red oak, giving a sweet yet smoky flavor. Another component of the barbecue is the accompanying Pinquito Beans. The town has a host of restaurants that serve this flavorful barbecue, including Shaw’s Steak House and Tavern. One will also find throughout the region portable grills set up serving this local cuisine.
Of course, the perfect wine pairing with this barbecue is Pinot Noir. It, therefore, goes without saying that because of Santa Maria’s climate and terroir are best suited for Pinot Noir, it is the area’s most popular red wine.
This post is an excerpt from an article published in Big Blend Magazine.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer was hosted on the visit to this region. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.