May 31, 2023
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Los Olivos wine appellation gains American Viticultural Area designation


Federal officials have given final approval for a new American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County: the 22,820-acre Los Olivos District in the Santa Ynez Valley. The wine appellation has won recognition as a locale with distinctive climate, geology, soils and topographical features affecting the character of its wines.

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau published a final rule Jan. 21 and it becomes effective on Feb. 22. The new viticultural area fits in neatly between the Happy Canyon AVA to the east, the Santa Ynez Valley’s warmest wine region known for Bordeauxs, and Ballard Canyon AVA to the west, a slightly cooler area than Los Olivos with different soil profiles and known best for syrahs.

Fred Brander of Brander Vineyard submitted the petition for the Los Olivos AVA, an area with 12 bonded wineries and close to 50 commercial vineyards covering 1,120 acres.

Brander told the Business Times last July that the AVA is distinguished by a uniformity of soil type and elevation, with hardly any steep slopes. He said a variety of grapes grow well there including Bordeauxs and Rhones, Spanish grapes such as tempranillo and albarino, and Italian varieties including sangiovese.

He said he expects the district to be best known for Bordeauxs — especially a Napa Valley-style cabernet sauvignon — simply because of economics: Cabernet sauvignon is the most popular and profitable red grape.