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Santa Barbara County is the top wine country in the world. 

So declared Wine Enthusiast this morning by announcing Santa Barbara County as the winner of the magazine’s Wine Star Award for Wine Region of the Year. The annual awards are considered one of the wine industry’s top honors, with awardees feted as part of a glitzy black-tie gala, to be held next February in Miami. 

“I feel like we just won Best Picture at the Oscars,” said Alison Laslett, CEO of the Santa Barbara Vintners. “Our region has worked so hard for so long to produce such great wines; it’s extraordinary to have that dedication recognized by the international community. Winning the Wine Star for Region of the Year? It’s a rare and remarkable moment in time; it really gives you pause. You feel as though you’ve finally made it, and every vintner can take credit for the recognition and enjoy the honor.”

“With a stunning diversity of microclimates, a thriving culinary scene and a small yet cosmopolitan seaside city as its cultural core, Santa Barbara County is a wine lover’s paradise,” claimed the article about the award. “Santa Barbara County is also a leader in sustainability, as it is home to some of the country’s first organic, biodynamic and regenerative vineyards. But people count here, too. There’s a higher proportion of female winemakers in this region than anywhere else in California. Additionally, an increasing number of wineries elevate visibility of and opportunities for farm workers through special bottlings and scholarships.”

Santa Barbara is no stranger to the Wine Stars. Last year, Gregory Brewer, cofounder of Brewer-Clifton Wines, was named the American Winemaker of the Year. In 2019, Lane Taner of Lumen Wines was nominated for the same award. And up the coast, Paso Robles was named the Wine Region of the Year in 2013. 

Laslett was proud that Santa Barbara emerged atop other deserving nominees from around the world. “Our vintners have spent 50 years pushing the extraordinary potential of our soils and crafting the grapes into world-class wines,” she said. “To be nominated alongside France and New Zealand and South Africa, and then to win, is such an honor for everyone who makes our wine region soar.”

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