Nestled in a peaceful corner of Santa Barbara County, Happy Canyon’s verdant hillside vineyards, abundant sunshine, and oak-studded grasslands make it one of the area’s most picturesque viticultural areas—as well as one of the most promising.
The Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara American Viticultural Area where the east-west running Santa Ynez mountain range intersects with the north-south San Rafael mountain range. The east-west transverse mountain range is geographical anomaly in itself, and only one of a few in the world. While Happy Canyon sits as little as 12 miles to the north of the Pacific Ocean as the crow flies, the west-to-east running mountain range protects the vineyards from direct oceanic influence, but also traps the heat of the Santa Ynez Valley during the day. Cooling breezes and a fog-rich marine layer also roll through the canyon in the late afternoon and early morning, creating a wide temperature swing between daytime highs and nighttime lows.
Happy Canyon’s warm micro-climate is the perfect home for Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as many Rhône varietals. The soil, a mixture of loam and clay loam with interspersed cobbles, is high in mineral levels while low in nutrients, resulting in small vines and very low grape yields—a circumstance that results in concentrated flavors and excellent terroir expression.
Since the first vintage in 2001, winemakers throughout the county have sought out Happy Canyon fruit for its remarkable quality and flavor profile. Whereas Bordeaux grapes in other warm climates typically develop sugar before flavor, in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara American Viticultural Area fruit sugar develops subsequent to flavor, producing remarkable complexity and depth.
Designated as an official American Viticultural Area by the Trade and Tax Bureau in November of 2009, the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara is the smallest American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County. It lies north and west of Lake Cachuma and is home to six major vineyards and one active winery: Crown Point Vineyards, Dierberg Vineyard, Grassini Family Vineyards, Grimm’s Bluff, Happy Canyon Vineyard, Jack McGinley and Vogelzang Vineyard.
©2019 Happy Canyon Viticultural Area