Santa Maria is a city near the Southern California coast in Santa Barbara County. It's estimated 2014 Census population was over 103,000 making it the most populous city in the county. The city is notable for its wine industry and Santa Maria-style barbecue. The Sunset magazine called Santa Maria "The West's Best BBQ Town". Santa Maria experiences a cool climate, typical of coastal areas of California north of Point Conception. The climate is mostly sunny, refreshed by the ocean breeze.
Agriculture plays an important role in the city's economy. 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,
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.
The petroleum industry has had a large presence in the area since oil was first discovered at the Orcutt Oil Field in 1902. By 1957 there were 1,775 oil wells in operation in the Santa Maria Valley, producing more than $640 million worth of oil.