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Wine Tour : ‘Santa Barbara Coast’ Name Denied

Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are often spoken of in the single phrase “Central Coast.” Some people believe there is scientific reason to link the regions, that the Edna Valley, northernmost of the three east-west valleys, produces wine of style quite similar to the two southern valleys, Santa Maria and Santa Ynez.

Two years ago, backed by some of the larger wineries, a group of growers and producers petitioned the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to establish, as an official “appellation” (growing region), the area they called Santa Barbara Coast.

As it was proposed, the region would have included most of the vineyard acreage in Santa Barbara County and some acreage in San Luis Obispo County.

A few weeks ago, the government rejected the plan, to the dismay of Walt Klenz, president of Wine World. “The issue now is not the boundaries (of the region), but whether the name conforms to (government) regulations regarding historical usage as it relates to that area,” says Klenz.

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He said the group will continue to pursue the Santa Barbara Coast name for the area. “I see this as analogous to the Napa Valley appellation, for better or worse,” he says.

Klenz defends seeking a larger boundary for a growing region: “Using a broader name allows a group of wineries to essentially build, over a generation, a worldwide recognition for an area.”

Those who oppose the name of the appellation say it would be confusing because some wine from San Luis Obispo County grapes could be bottled with a label indicating the grapes came from Santa Barbara County.


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