The Santa Ynez Valley is located in Santa Barbara County, California, between the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south and the San Rafael Mountains to the north. The Santa Ynez River flows through the valley from east to west. The Santa Ynez Valley is separated from the Los Alamos Valley, to the northwest, by the Purisima Hills, and from the Santa Maria Valley by the Solomon Hills. The Santa Rita Hills separate the Santa Ynez Valley from the Santa Rita and Lompoc Valleys to the west.
The 2004 film Sideways was set (and shot on location) in the Santa Ynez Valley. Since then, visits from tourists looking to recreate the experiences of the fictional characters Miles and Jack, have become common. Fans of the movie can often be seen making a pilgrimage from the Buellton Days Inn to the Hitching Post restaurant. Other movies that have been filmed in the Santa Ynez Valley include indie film "Flying Lessons" featuring Michael O’Neill, Maggie Grace, and Hal Holbrook, “Michael Jackson: The Untold Story of Neverland", “Uncorked” /Hallmark/Larry Levinson; “Bad Girls”; “It’s Complicated”/Universal; Nitro Circus/MTV; “Inside Luxury Travel”; “The Othersiders”/Red Varden Studios;“More to Love”; “Back in Wedding Shape”; “You’re Hired”; “Kathy Griffin Season 2”; and “Somewhere” Movie locations
An estate in the Valley, five miles from the town of Los Olivos, California, was one of the filming locations for a 1983 video of the song "Say Say Say", featuring Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney. At the time, it was called Sycamore Valley Ranch. According to La Toya Jackson, Michael expressed interest in someday buying the property. In 1988, he would do so, renaming it Neverland Ranch. The singer sold the property prior to his death and in 2017, the estate, again Sycamore Valley Ranch (5225 Figueroa Mountain Road, Los Olivos), was for sale at an asking price of $67 million.
The Santa Ynez Valley is part of Santa Barbara County's Third Supervisorial District, whose voters are registered 39% Democratic and 31% Republican; however, registered voters within the Valley's two incorporated cities, Buellton and Solvang, are approximately 31% Democratic and 45% Republican, reflecting the greater Valley's more conservative political constituency. The Valley, geographically located at the center of Santa Barbara County and partially surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest, is sometimes regarded as more politically aligned with northern Santa Barbara County and would have been included in the proposed Mission County under "Measure H," rejected by 81% of County voters in the June 6, 2006 Direct Primary election. Numerous smart growth-type coalitions have formed such as the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance, Preservation of Los Olivos (POLO), Preservation of Santa Ynez (POSY), WeWatch, and the Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens. These groups' stated mission is the preservation of the Santa Ynez Valley.
The economy of the Santa Ynez Valley is driven by agriculture (particularly viticulture), the equine industry, and tourism.
The wine industry is a major part of the Santa Ynez Valley's economy. The Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association lists over 70 wineries and tasting rooms on their website. Besides grapes, the valley also has numerous apple farms, many of them with roadside apple stands or "pick your own" programs. It is the location of the Santa Ynez Valley American Viticultural Area.
Horses are seen throughout the valley and a historic Western atmosphere is kept alive. Notable ranches include Monty Roberts' Flag Is Up Farms, River Edge Farm (thoroughbreds), and the nationally known Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center. This valley is noted for having over 52 different breeds of horses, plus 28 veterinarians.
Tourists often visit the valley for its attractions including numerous art galleries, wine tasting rooms, and antique stores as well as resorts such as the Alisal Guest Ranch, Lake Cachuma, PCPA's Theatrefest, and the Chumash Casino. Because of good weather year round, many participate in outdoor activities such as hiking in the nearby Los Padres National Forest or bicycling throughout the valley.
- Allan Hancock College: Solvang Campus
- Santa Ynez Valley Union High School
- Los Olivos Elementary School
- Ballard Elementary School
- Olive Grove Charter School
- Dunn School
- Midland School
- The Family School
- Santa Ynez School
- College School (Charter School)
- Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy
- Jonata Middle School
- Oak Valley Elementary School
- Solvang Elementary School
- Santa Ynez Valley Transit provides service to the communities of Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang. Route A is a clockwise-oriented route through the four communities, traveling along State Route 246 as its primary thoroughfare. Route B transit service circulates along the same route, in a counterclockwise direction.
- Santa Ynez Airport, a public regional general aviation airport, which is located about 1 mi (2 km) southeast of the central business district of Santa Ynez.
Notable present or past residents include
- Robert Carradine
- Jimmy Connors
- Jake Copass
- John Corbett
- David Crosby
- Bo Derek
- Bob Eubanks
- Brooks Firestone
- John Forsythe
- Dan Gerber
- Richard A. Harris
- Dan Henry
- Sandy Hill
- Michael Jackson (Neverland Ranch)
- Ed Joyce
- Kelly Le Brock
- Peter Lewis
- Tom Leykis
- Marty Paich
- Fess Parker
- Dolly Parton
- Ronald Reagan (Rancho del Cielo)
- Monty Roberts
- Todd Rogers
- Steven Seagal
- Edie Sedgwick
- Doc Severinsen
- Steven Spielberg
- Bernie Taupin
- Noah Wyle
- Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Purisima Hills
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Solomon Hills
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Santa Rita Hills
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Santa Rita Valley
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lompoc Valley
- La Toya Jackson; Jeffré Phillips (29 May 2012). Starting Over. Simon and Schuster. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4516-2059-7. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- "Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch back on market for $67M". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
- "Sycamore Valley Ranch Formerly Neverland Ranch - Joyce Rey". joycerey.com. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors". countyofsb.org. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. "April 6, 2012 - Report of Registration," Retrieved 10 May 2012" (PDF). ca.gov. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Stewart, Ethan (June 8, 2006). "The People Have Spoken: Local Election Plays Out as Anticipated." The Independent. Retrieved 10 May 2012". independent.com. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- Activities in the Valley
- The Danish Soul of That Town in 'Sideways'
- The Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association
- Santa Ynez Valley Online Community
- The Santa Ynez Valley Alliance
- Preservation of Los Olivos (P.O.L.O.)
- Women's Environmental Watch (W.E. Watch)
- The Santa Ynez Valley News
- The Santa Ynez Valley Journal