Modern Day Gold Rush
By Donna Polizzi
The Central Coast Wine Region has become a modern- day gold rush. People are jumping on the bandwagon, and in some cases, “can wagon.” Wine bars, wineries and breweries are popping up all over the California Central Coast. Talking with owners and wine makers has revealed that this industry has become a long awaited second career and profitable investment opportunity.
The Wine Industry is Booming
Those in the industry and community stakeholders who are interested in economic vitality are loving it. Let me whet your whistle with a few staggering facts. Over 200 wineries in Santa Barbara County serve wine made from over 50 grape varieties that are grown in the County. The economic value of wine grapes harvested according to 2016 Santa Barbara County Crop Report, is $151,629,764.
In 2015, Paso Robles, AVA and Greater San Luis Obispo County (SLO), reported 1.56 million tourism visits to wineries. Wine revenue was a whopping $732 million from SLO County wine.
Becoming a world-renowned wine region has put the Central Coast in the spotlight and tourists are flocking to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties to partake in our excellent wine and plethora of things to see and do.
Visitors flock to the Central Coast
Tourists appreciate the glorious scenery, rolling hills and winding country roads that are covered in grapevines, dotted with ranches, old barns, grazing cattle and wineries from humble abodes to magnificent mansions await. I would be remiss not to also mention the stunning mountains and the deep blue pacific waters are a big plus for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Kurt Hixenbaugh, of Vino et Amici, owns a wine bar in Old Orcutt and business is booming. He and his wife Dawn are considering opening a second location. “We only carry local, small production wines like Westerly and El Lugar. Several of our labels are winemakers who do side projects. As an example, Dieter Cronje, the winemaker of Presqui’lle, has his own label Riding Monkey Wines.
Nuclear Wine Co in Los Alamos is one of the wineries in California who have decided to can their wine. They currently have two available wines in a can, a white Chardonnay and a Red Table Wine, that is a mixture of Cabernet 44%, Merlot 25%, Pinot Noir 16% and Syrah 15%.
One of my personal favorites to be had on the Central Coast is the Lucas & Lewellen 2012 Estate Vineyards Chardonnay. It is no surprise that Wine Enthusiast ranked it at 91 points. There is a tasting room in Solvang at 1645 Copenhagen Drive that locals and visitors love.
Tourism is a boon in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. In Santa Barbara County, $1.9 billion in revenue came from 7.2 million visitors in 2017. SLO County attracted $1.58 billion in revenue from tourism and 17,870 people were employed in tourism-related jobs.
More and more recognition from sommeliers, the media, visitors and coastal wines impressively and consistently winning awards at major wine competitions, continues to be a catalyst for tourists, creating jobs, economic vitality for the region and the need for housing has grown accordingly.
Living the Dream
It’s no secret that the weather is beautiful year-round and there are boundless activities at every elevation.
In 1990, Santa Maria’s Population was 62,047 and Census reports show that population grew to 107,014 by 2017. In the year 2025, Santa Maria is estimated to expand to a whopping 121,900 people.
To give you an idea, Coastal Community Builders (CCB) has been building new home developments on the California Central Coast for 30 years, and the need has never been greater. Developments have been built in Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Nipomo, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Templeton, Solvang and the Santa Maria Valley, that have sold out.
“The response to our Rice Ranch Community has been impressive. Due to the population growth in Northern Santa Barbara County, the homes are being sold and reserved almost as fast as we build them. It’s hard to believe that there are only two left at the Reserves, off of Cherry, in Orcutt,” stated Jennifer Daniels, CCB’s sales and options manager.
Currently, new homes are being sold and reserved in Orcutt, in Northern Santa Barbara County. Models at the Meadows in Rice Ranch are open daily, in this newest master planned community.”
If you’re like me, you’ve probably gone on vacation and picked up a real estate magazine. Visiting, and especially living, on the Central Coast is a gift. So, pop the top on your favorite brew or open that bottle of award-winning wine and celebrate!