Santa Barbara County’s Riverbench Winery Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Santa Barbara County’s Riverbench Winery Celebrates 50th Anniversary

May 24th – Santa Maria Valley, CA – Santa Barbara County’s Riverbench Vineyard & Winery is thrilled to celebrate 50 years of quality grape growing and winemaking in the Santa Maria Valley AVA.

Riverbench was established 1973, when the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted on the bank of the Sisquoc River – an area known as the Santa Maria Bench. For the next several decades, this historical vineyard served as a reputable fruit source for several renowned wineries throughout the region. After four families purchased the property in 2005, Riverbench began producing wines from its estate fruit in limited quantities, bottling the first vintage in 2006. Two years later, exhilarated by the region’s ideal conditions for growing cool-climate grapes that retain beautiful amounts of acidity, the winery added sparkling wines to its portfolio, inspired by the centuries old sparkling wine traditions of Champagne, France.

From its inception, a dedication to quality and stewardship have been guiding principles for Riverbench, and over the years, the winery has earned a reputation for its high quality, site-expressive still and sparkling wines. Vineyard Manager, Jim Stollberg, original Winemaker, Chuck Ortman, and current Winemaker, Clarissa Nagy, take special care in and out of the vineyard to keep sustainable practices in the forefront, to not only produce a superior product that characterizes the unique site, but to also help protect the environment and conserve natural resources. In fact, for the last 15 years Riverbench has proudly held its SIP Certification – first achieved in 2008 – which is a true testament to the team’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.

Since 2018, Riverbench has been owned by two of the four families that took over the business in 2005: the Will/Goodwin and Hamill families, who have continued to build upon the winery’s reputation for making noteworthy Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. Today, these limited production still and sparkling wines can be enjoyed from Riverbench’s picturesque winery in the Santa Maria Valley, situated along the bucolic Foxen Canyon Road, as well as at their urban tasting room, which opened in 2013 in downtown Santa Barbara’s dynamic Funk Zone neighborhood.

“As we celebrate our golden anniversary, we can’t help but feel proud of all we have accomplished with carrying on the 50-year tradition,” says Steve Will, Co-Owner. “Very few Santa Barbara area wineries have reached such a milestone, and we are so grateful to be able to do what we love: to grow and produce elegant, site-driven wines that showcase the quality of our vineyard and region. We are thankful for everyone who has supported our journey thus far, from our vineyard workers to our consumers and everyone in between, and look forward to building upon our wine legacy for the next 50 years to come.”

Riverbench will host a 50th anniversary dinner at the Riverbench Farmhouse on Saturday, September 9th. More details to come.

About Riverbench

Established in 1973, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery is a boutique Santa Barbara County winery dedicated to crafting limited-production estate wines from its sustainably farmed vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Since launching its own label in 2006, Riverbench has built a reputation for producing outstanding still and sparkling wines from its high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. In 2015, the winery expanded its sparkling wine program by planting Pinot Meunier, later releasing the first ever sparkling Pinot Meunier from Santa Barbara County. Riverbench wines can be found at their tasting rooms in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. Visit to learn more.

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