While it's not "official" until Oct. 30, it's a done deal, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB): Ballard Canyon is Santa Barbara County's fifth official AVA, or American Viticultural Area.

It joins the Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara and the Santa Maria Valley.

Ballard Canyon encompasses 7,800 acres, and joins both the Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVAs as sub-regions inside the larger Santa Ynez Valley.

"The 18 vintners in the Ballard Canyon AVA have always recognized the unique potential of this site," said Michael Larner, president of the newly former Ballard Canyon Winegrowers' Alliance.

"We see it each year, in the high quality of fruit we pick, and in the fine wines we craft. We have always known that we occupy a special space at the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association provided statistics on the acreage and type of grape varietals currently growing in Ballard Canyon vineyards.

Syrah leads the pack of red grape varietals planted  with 274 acres, followed by grenache, at 61. The others, rounded to the nearest acre, are: sangiovese, 26; nebbiolo, 10; cabernet sauvignon, 29; cabernet franc, 20; merlot, 9; petit verdot, 5; petite sirah, 6; mourvedre, 7; tempranillo, 4; counoise, 3; zinfandel, 2; and cinsault, 1.

The total acres planted to red wine grapes are 458; of those, Rhone varietals are 76 percent; Bordeaux, 14; Italian, 8; and California "Heritage," 2 percent.

Next, white wine grape varietals, by acre, are roussanne, 16; marsanne, 4; viognier, 20; grenache blanc, 7; sauvignon blanc; 31; semillon, 3; and malvasia bianca, 2.

Total: 83 acres planted to white grape varietals, with 57 percent Rhone, 40 percent Bordeaux and Italian, 2.

The winemakers and wine growers included in Ballard Canyon are Purisima Mountain (Beckmen), Boa Vista, Brownell's Viejo Vineyard, Capazzo Vineyard, Daly, Dohlmeyer, Finkle Family Vineyards, Harrison Clarke, Hinnrichs, Jorian Hill, Kimsey, Jonata, Larner, Rusack, Saarloos and Sons' Windmill Ranch, Stolpman, Tierra Alta and Willingham Vineyard, according to the SBCVA.

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