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The recent news that the popular Chardonnay Symposium would no longer be held in Chardonnay-ville, aka the Santa Maria Valley, now makes a little more sense.

In a news release Tuesday, the Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Association, founder in 2010 of the Chardonnay Symposium, announced that it will dissolve, and has handed over ownership of the annual event to the Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa in Pismo Beach.

The SMVWCA plans to give its “website and collaterals” to the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, publicist Sao Anash (Muse Management) announced in a news release.

Taking over for the association is a “think tank” of industry volunteers, who will promote the Santa Maria Valley in ways that “are not hemmed in by the restrictions associated with many advocacy group models,” said volunteer member Dayna Hammell.

The Santa Maria Valley was recognized as an American Viticultural Area in 1981, making it Santa Barbara County’s first appellation.

Among the members of the think tank are Nicholas Miller (Bien Nacido Vineyards); vineyard manager Jim Stollberg (Maverick Farming Company); winemaker James Ontiveros (Alta Maria and Native 9); Matt Murphy (Presqu’ile); Katy Westgaard (Presqu’ile Winery); Laura Booras (Riverbench), winemaker Clarissa Nagy (Nagy Wines); Dayna Hammell (Thornhill Companies); winemaker Paul Lato and Anash.

While “ … many of us here in Santa Maria Valley will remain avid supporters and engaged members of the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association,” said Presqu’ile’s Murphy, adding that members intend to more “closely align our AVA’s interests with SBCVA, (which is) a testament to the revitalized leadership and vision at the association.”

Morgen McLaughlin, new executive director of the SBCVA, calls the Santa Maria Valley a “jewel in the crown of the Santa Barbara County wine region. As the SBCVA continues to work towards its strategic mission of raising the visibility of Santa Barbara County and its five AVAs, the ideas and input from this new think tank will be vital in assisting our efforts.”

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press

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