In 1962, Pierre Lafond re-established Santa Barbara County's winemaking tradition by founding Santa Barbara Winery. The winery was the first since prohibition and is part of an association that has grown to 40 wineries located in Santa Barbara County. In the early years, Pierre made wine from purchased fruit, but soon realized the potential for premium wine made from Santa Barbara County grapes. In 1971, he purchased land in the western Santa Ynez Valley and began planting what is now a 95 acre vineyard. Today, annual production is around 32,000 cases.
Bruce McGuire was working as a winemaker in the Sacramento Delta in 1981 when Pierre Lafond invited him to take over the winemaking operation at Santa Barbara Winery. Since then, the winery has produced world class red and white wines. Bruce’s winemaking philosophy begins in the vineyard. He believes the quality and integrity of the wine is inextricably linked to what happens in the field — from the pruning in the winter, to the harvest in the autumn. In 2001, the BATF recognized Sta. Rita Hills (at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley) as a separate and distinct viticultural area. Unique in climate and geography, the wines grown in this cool (Region 1) growing area are permitted to be identified as Sta. Rita Hills. Unusual for California, the San Ynez Valley runs east-west which permits cool ocean breezes to significantly alter the climate. As a result, the area is the coolest growing climate in all of California. The wines from the area are typified by great intensity of fruit (from the intense sun of southern California) while maintaining excellent levels of acidity (from the cooling effect of the ocean).