Wine Country: Central Coast Wine News

Posted on Jun 16 by SEASONS Magazine

Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.


SUMMER MIGHT BE THE BEST SEASON to visit wine country; grape clusters hang heavy on the vines, the sun-filled days are long, and wineries hold special events before the busy harvest kicks into high gear.

One such Santa Ynez Valley winery is commemorating 45 years of winemaking with a chance to visit its historic vineyards.

Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards, planted in 1973, celebrates the anniversary with an invitation to tour the scenic 750- acre property along Foxen Canyon Road. Zaca Mesa planted the first syrah vines in Santa Barbara County in 1978. Those massive old cordons in the legendary Black Bear Block are extraordinary and still produce outstanding wine.

“By going on a guided tour through the vineyard and winery you not only get to learn about our history, climate, soils and grape varieties, but also the history of the Santa Barbara County wine-growing region,” says winemaker Kristin Bryden. “It is an opportunity for guests to experience Zaca Mesa from our perspective, and understand why we value our heritage and continue our unwavering dedication to growing and producing Rhône grape varieties.”

Choose between a winery tour and tasting ($30/person) or a vineyard experience and lunch ($100/person). Reservations are required:

WINE ENTHUSIASTS GATHER EACH SUMMER FOR THE POPULAR SANTA BARBARA WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, under the oak and redwood trees at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Fifty local winemakers pour current releases alongside 30 food vendors, on Saturday, June 30, from 2 to 5 p.m. VIP ticket holders get in an hour early, enjoy an exclusive lounge, and sip and savor special wine and food selections.

Proceeds benefit the museum’s nature and science education programs at both the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Sea Center. For tickets, visit

SANTA BARBARA HAS THE FUNK ZONE, LOMPOC HAS THE WINE GHETTO AND NOW PASO ROBLES HAS TIN CITY. The commercial warehouse district known as Tin City, located on the southern edge of the city, just off Highway 101, is the hottest place in town. And it just keeps getting hotter!

Each weekend, hundreds of people flock to the intersections of Marquita Avenue, Limestone Way and Blue Rock Road, described by the developer as “an evolving industrial makers market.” Tin City is made up of 20 wineries, BarrelHouse Brewing Co., Tin City Cider, Wine Shine distillery, Etto Pastificio pasta factory, and Negranti Creamery−handcrafting and scooping sheep’s milk ice cream.

Nicora Winery was the first wine tasting room to open at Tin City five years ago. Owner/winemaker Nick Elliott handcrafts high-end Rhône blends under the same roof, which is part of the appeal.

“You can walk into a tasting room and most of the time you’re going to see the winemaker; you get to chat with the winemaker,” says Elliott. “These people are making killer wine down here. We have a whole spread of wines from wine in the can to $60 bottles of wine. This is obviously the spot to be!”

Developer Mike English says more food options are coming to Tin City this year: a commercial bakery, coffee roaster and two restaurants: Tin Canteen and Six Test Kitchen.

Chef Ricky Odbert is moving his Arroyo Grande sensation, Six Test Kitchen, to Paso Robles. He is expanding to 12 seats (two seatings; 6 and 8 p.m.), keeping his unique tasting menu format, and adding wine pairings by Sommelier Sally Dalke.

“We chose Tin City because it is an up-and-coming area of very talented and creative individuals. It has also created its own buzz, so piggybacking off of that just seems to make sense,” says Odbert. “Unlike being in a downtown setting, Tin City is made up of only food and beverage, so the people coming to the area aren’t going there for any other reason than to eat and drink.”

THE VILLAGE OF ARROYO GRANDE IS NOW ON WINE TRAIL MAPS. Three Santa Barbara County wineries recently opened tasting rooms. Wine pioneer Bob Lindquist’s Qupé winery opened a shared tasting room with Louisa Sawyer Lindquist’s Verdad Wines at 134-A W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande.

Sommelier turned winemaker Joshua Klapper renovated a 100-year old bungalow at 225 E. Branch St. for his new tasting room. He retooled his La Fenêtre label and rebranded under the label, Timbre Winery.

Phantom Rivers tasting room is also a few doors down.

This story was originally published in the 2018 summer issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.


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