Located in the heart of Californias central coast, the Santa Maria Valley covers an area of mountains and hills that reaches the Pacific Ocean in ... Show synopsis Located in the heart of Californias central coast, the Santa Maria Valley covers an area of mountains and hills that reaches the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara County. The valleys early history dates back to the Portola Expedition, which passed through Santa Maria on the California Mission Trail"called El Camino Real"and ended near Monterey Bay. When early settlers arrived, the valley was dry and desolate. Nearby water sources, however, helped transform the land into one of the most fertile and beautiful valleys in California. The valley became a leader in innovative agriculture transport, a depot on the busiest short-line railroad system in the country, and a training ground for many World War II pilots at its renowned aeronautic college. Today, its landscape of richly colored agricultural fields is framed by rolling hills and scenic miles of grapevines that produce some of the worlds most coveted wines. The valley is also famous for its Santa Maria"style barbecue.