Agricultural production in Santa Barbara County jumped 10 percent in gross value last year, thanks to the popularity of Santa Barbara wines. According to deputy Agricultural Commissioner Guy Tingos, the value of the grapes decreased slightly, but more acreage was devoted to them – particularly the chardonnay, pinot noir, and shiraz varieties. In addition to its traditional popularity overseas, wine has now surpassed beer as America’s most popular alcoholic beverage, Tingo said. Agriculture’s net gross increased by more than $90 million in the last year, totaling $998 million for 2005. Strawberries continue to be the leading crop – grossing $203 million – while grapes have stolen second place from broccoli, with gross revenues of $160 million.

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