Santa Maria is a city in Santa Barbara County, on the Central Coast of California. Santa Maria’s population in the 2010 census of 99,553, confirmed what had been known, that it had surpassed that of Santa Barbara making it the largest city in the county.
Santa Maria experiences a cool Mediterranean climate typical of the coastal areas of California. The climate is mostly sunny refreshed by the ocean breeze. Fog is common. Snow in the lowest parts of the city is virtually unknown, being the last brief flurry in the pier recorded in January 1949. The only previous known case of snow was in January 1882.
Agriculture plays an important role in the city’s economy. The Santa Maria area is home to an increasing number of vineyards, wineries, and winemakers and is centrally located to both the Santa Ynez and Foxen Canyon areas of Santa Barbara County’s wine country, and San Luis Obispo County’s Edna Valley-Arroyo Grande wine country.
The agricultural areas surrounding the city are some of the most productive in California, with primary crops including strawberries, wine grapes, celery, lettuce, peas, squash, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and beans. Many cattle ranchers also call the Santa Maria Valley home.
In recent years, other industries have been being added to the city’s agricultural and retail mix, including aerospace; communications; high-tech research and development; energy production; military operations; and manufacturing.