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The Santa Maria Bench
The Santa Maria Bench is famous among wine aficionados, and rightly so. Historically it is the site of Santa Barbara County's first vineyard planted in 1964 by Uriel Nielson. The Bench is located at the eastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley AVA, just miles from the Pacific Ocean. It runs along the Sisquoc River, 400-800 feet above sea level, in the foothills of the Tepusquet Mountain Range. From northwest to southeast it stretches just over six miles and is composed of a series of alluvial fan soils and deposits that offer excellent drainage. In addition to the unique topography and geology, the Bench possesses a climate unlike anywhere else on earth. On most days the morning fog burns off at 10 am, the wind charges in around 1:30 pm and the fog rolls back in sometime after dinner. Heat waves are few and far between. This unusual climate gives the Bench one of winedom's longest growing seasons. This extraordinary environment is why the Bench is able to consistently produce wines with such incredible depth, character, structure and balance.