By Lisa Rowlands

Undoubtedly one of the area’s most visually appealing viticultural landscapes, the Happy Canyon is also one of its most intriguing. Since the first vintage of 2001, many winemakers across Santa Barbara County have actively sought out the grapes that are cultivated here due to their balance of sugar and acidity, their incredible complexity and their wide ranging flavour profile.

Blessed with the best of the Californian sunshine, the climate of the Happy Canyon is the warmest in the Santa Ynez Valley and amongst the warmest in the county of Santa Barbara. Morning fog from the Pacific generally lifts by early afternoon and temperatures during the growing season can reach as high as thirty-five degrees Celsius. These highs are offset by the moderating effects of the ocean breeze and the contrastingly cool temperatures in the evening, providing a perfect microclimate for viticultural activity. And along with the mineral rich, nutrient poor soils of clay and chert, they comprise a terroir ideal for high quality wine production.

The Happy Canyon covers a geographic area of nine thousand hectares with just a fraction of this land currently planted to vine. The principal grapes of the appellation are those which have became synonymous with the broader Californian wine picture - Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot also well represented in the vineyards, and smaller but notable amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Syrah are also cultivated.