The Sta. Rita Hills are situated in an east-west series of rolling hills that have no barriers between the hillside vineyards and the adjacent Pacific Ocean. This unusual geographic anomaly provides strong winds, morning fog and overall cool temperatures. Together, these conditions lengthen the growing season, limit vine yields, and provide grapes with a rare combination of full ripeness, concentration, excellent structure, minerality and acidity. As a result, the classic cool-climate varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive in the Sta. Rita Hills.
In 1998, a group of Sta. Rita Hills winemakers and growers petitioned the U.S. Government to recognize the Sta. Rita Hills as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is a precisely defined geographical area that has demonstrably distinctive soil, climate and other growing conditions.
In 2001, the Sta. Rita Hills received official certification as an AVA, distinct from the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA that has existed since 1977.