As a collection of 13 wine-tasting rooms housed in metal buildings, the Lompoc Wine Ghetto offers a fun-filled day of sampling regional varieties such as pinot noir and chardonnay. Each winery crafts its own set of libations, and many are produced with grapes grown in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.
In 1968, bearing a degree in geography and a taste for fine wines, Richard Sanford set out to find the perfect location to grow pinot noir grapes. He dreamed of a climate zone similar to France’s Burgundy region, often poring over maps and statistics in search of a similar locale in his native California. Upon discovering the Transverse mountain ranges of Santa Barbara County, Richard felt his shovel thump the lid of a potential treasure chest. With mountains running east to west, the range allowed the ocean air to rush down the Santa Ynez Valley and keep the climate right where he needed it. Since his discovery, Richard has worked with his wife, Thekla, for more than 40 years on 100 acres of certified organic vineyards, using the literal fruits of their labor to craft delicate versions of pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot blanc, and vin gris wines.
For all its contributions to the wine industry, it's hard to believe that Core Wine Company is just a two-person operation. One half of that family owned operation is David Corey, whose first position in the industry was as a pest-control advisor. He eventually moved from protecting the grapes to producing them himself, and in 2001, he founded Core alongside his wife, wine-pairing expert Becky.
Together, the Coreys have concocted several different labels, including Core, Kuyam, and Turchi. Each of those labels features a different background story, and each bears Becky's original artwork and loving fingerprints on its labels. The Coreys share their creations at their Old Town Orcutt shop, where they frequently host events, such as educational tastings of an extraordinarily wide range of wines on the second Wednesday of every month.
Instead of bellying up to a bar, visitors to Avant Tapas & Wine can savor ambrosial tastes?such as Inception chardonnay, Hitching Post pinot noir, and Falcone syrah?at the Wine Wall. Here, a dispensing system measures out exact pours of 52 wines hailing from California?s other wine country?the prolific central coast. Visitors immerse their taste buds in sips of diverse varietals from 20 regional wineries, such as Ground Effect Wine Co. in San Luis Obispo and Hoyt Family Vineyards in Malibu, all produced next door at Terravant Wine Company and enjoyed in Avant?s industrial warehouse confines.
Guests can also pair wines with the celebrated cuisine of chef Robin Reynolds, who harnesses her extensive culinary training and her roots as a Santa Barbara County native to infuse her morsels with local flavors, from hormone-free rib eye to produce picked from nearby organic gardens. While swirling vibrant reds or sweet whites in their glasses, diners take in live music three nights a week or peruse the establishment during tours.
Founded in 2010 by father-and-son team Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer and brewer A.J. Stoll, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. has quickly proved its mettle by winning a series of medals, including five golds, from prestigious contests such as the Denver International Beer Competition. Visitors can peek at the brewery’s inner workings on tours, learning about the origins of such beers as Paradise Road Pilsner, Davy Brown Ale, and Hurricane Deck Double IPA. They can also view the towering stainless-steel tanks in which beer is born as a mash and undergoes an awkward adolescence as a root beer. Back in the tasting room, guests sit beneath a wood and sheet-metal awning as they sip samples of the alcohol alchemists' nine beers. The tasting room is often host to events, with live music on the weekends and quiz and darts nights on alternating Wednesdays.
Even while running the Studio Grill in Hollywood, Ardison Phillips committed himself as an artist and a winemaker as well as a restaurateur. He bolstered the grill's menu by adding his own private-label wines in 1976, and their popularity with diners inspired him to found McKeon-Phillips Winery in 1982.
The winery continues to embrace Ardison's legacy by crafting single-vineyard wines with the same dedication to approachable New- and Old-World flavors. Although the selection emphasizes Bordeaux-style wines, including single-varietal bottlings of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, the current winemaker also experiments with robust Nebbiolo and silken Pinot Noir.
Besides creating crowd-pleasing wine, the staff also pays homage to Ardison Phillips's work as an artist by adorning each bottle with vibrant, impressionistic labels. The tasting room even functions as a gallery, featuring a rotating display of works by local artists and extraterrestrial postmodernists.