“Take a trip up Happy Canyon” Yep, that’s how Happy Canyon got it’s name. It was the place to sneak off to find a simple alcoholic beverage during Prohibition to “get Happy”, and the name stuck.
This AVA was established in 2009 and is the fourth to be established in Santa Barbara County. It is on the eastern edge of the Santa Barbara region and being the furthest inland and warmest (average summer temps in the low nineties) it lends itself to Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Syrah.
The soil here has a high mineral level and is loam and clay loam. The lack of nutrients in the soil creates smaller vines with lower yields.
The AVA itself covers 23,941 acres and includes 6 major vineyards: Crown Point, Dascomb, Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards, Grassini Family Vineyards, Happy Canyon Vineyard and Westerly. This is the easternmost part of the Santa Ynez Valley and sits Northwest of Lake Cachuma.
The first planting was done in 1996 with the first vintage here in 2001. The fruit here is limited but produce complexity and depth. You get natural acidity as well as ripe fruit flavors creating balance.
So the alcoholic beverages from Happy Canyon are no longer simple as they were in the day when it got it’s name. Now you will find complex and expressive wines. Feel free to take a drive through the beautiful area and see the vineyards, but unfortunately, you will not find any tasting rooms here. Never fear! Many of these wineries have tasting rooms conveniently located in downtown Santa Barbara, Solvang or Sta. Rita Hills.
You can find Grassini Family Vineyards beautiful tasting room in Downtown Santa Barbara. Dascomb has a tasting room in Solvang. Star Lane has it’s vineyards in Happy Canyon. It’s sister Vineyard is Dierberg and you can taste Star Lane wines at their tasting room on their Sta. Rita Hills property on Drum Canyon Road.
Visit Santa Barbara Vintners for information on things happening year round in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country.