Santa Maria is perhaps most notable for an excellent variety of barbecued meat. The tri-tip steak has its roots in Santa Maria. Tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lb (680 to 1,130 g) per side of beef. In the United States, this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s, when it became a local specialty in Santa Maria. “Santa Maria-style” barbecue is usually used in reference to the seasoning of tri-tip or other meats (most notably top sirloin, or “top block”) when rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices and cooked whole on a rotisserie or grilled over local red oak wood. The side dishes complementing a typical “Santa Maria-style” barbecue generally consist of garlic bread, pinquito beans, and a salad. Sunset Magazine’s August 2013 issue features a 10-page spread on Santa Maria Style BBQ, crowning Santa Maria as “The West’s Best BBQ Town”.
Santa Maria, along with the neighboring Lompoc, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez Valleys, combine to create one of the nation’s largest wine-producing regions, referred to as the Santa Barbara Wine Country. The often foggy and windswept Santa Maria Valley is the northern most appellation in Santa Barbara County. The region’s first officially approved American Viticultural Area (AVA) enjoys extremely complex soil conditions and diverse microclimates. Chardonnay and Pinot noir are two varietals which especially benefit from the ocean’s influence, and are the flagship wines of this appellation. Santa Maria Valley grapes are also used by wineries throughout Santa Barbara County and at many wineries outside of the county. The Santa Maria Valley name is used on labels from wineries that are based far away from the Santa Barbara County sunshine. The Santa Maria Valley appellation is bounded by the San Rafael Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest to the east, and by the Solomon Hills and the city of Santa Maria to the west.
Content courtesy of Wikipedia.org