While Santa Barbara County's largest vineyard plantings are for pinot noir and chardonnay, many different grape varieties thrive here in different parts of the county. (Read more here about the five unique growing regions of Santa Barbara County.) Syrah finds success in parts of the Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley, including the Sta. Rita Hills and Ballard Canyon. Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, because of its more Eastern inland location, is quite warm in the summer, allowing for the perfect ripening of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties.
#32 Meville 2013 Verna's Syrah (Santa Barbara County) $28 - 94 points
This is likely the last vintage from this vineyard, which the family winery seemingly mastered in this bottling. There’s an underlying umami-driven smoked meat backbone to the nose that also shows bold cherry blossom, olallieberry, pepper, dried herbs and blackberry-soy sauce. The palate is complex yet doesn’t overpower, with bits of purple flowers, blueberry, black pepper and menthol. —M.K
#18 Foxen 2012 Grassini Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara) $44 - 95 points
Amazing aromas of cherry, cedar, cocoa powder and vanilla-clove cigarettes hit the nose on this stellar interpretation of the six-year-old appellation. It’s supple and rich on the palate, with mocha, juicy red berries and plenty of exciting zing. —M.K.