Exploring the World of Wine from the American Riviera
Whether you’re looking to discover a new local producer, taste an obscure variety or sample classic Old World wines, Santa Barbara’s wine bars offer something for every type of drinker, from the novice to bonafide wine connoisseur and everything in between.
Armada Wine & Beer
Armada attracts locals and visitors to the airy, coastal-inspired space for its welcoming vibe and variety of artisanal offerings. While the list focuses on regional wine and craft beer, with several easy-to-enjoy selections from outside California, it changes regularly to help encourage customers to explore the world of craft beverages. After all, the name is a play on “exploration,” while paying tribute to the Spanish Conquistadors carved into the courtyard’s facade. 1129 State St., Santa Barbara, armadasantabarbara.com.
Crush Tasting Room & Kitchen
The new Crush Tasting Room & Kitchen is dedicated to sharing small-lot wines from up-and-coming producers throughout the Central Coast. The wines are served from an automatic dispensing system designed to preserve the freshness of the wine, while small tastes, half glass and full glass offerings make it easy to sample and compare wines at the push of a button. 432 E. Haley St., Santa Barbara, crushsb.com.
Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
Les Marchands has won fans for its eclectic yet elegant atmosphere, worldly selection of wine and expertly prepared food offerings that change with the seasons. Though the wine list tends to be Eurocentric, with many rare and collectible bottlings available, Les Marchands also has a nice selection of small production wines from local producers and harder-to-find gems from little-known regions around the world. 131 Anacapa St., Suite B, Santa Barbara, lesmarchandswine.com/.
Satellite pairs an interesting wine list focused on natural wines with fresh, inventive snacks and salads. While the wine list may be serious, this small, galaxy-themed wine bar keeps things light-hearted and fun, offering unique events and is home to the only regularly scheduled wine education courses for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) certifications in town. 1117 State St., Santa Barbara, satellitesb.com.
SB Wine Therapy
Often filled with a younger crowd playing board games or partaking in a game of trivia, Wine Therapy caters to those looking for a casual place to unwind with a glass of local wine—in fact, all wines on the list are sourced from no more than 50 miles away. Daily happy hour specials, a spacious, dog-friendly interior and regular events, like open-mic night, add to Wine Therapy’s laid-back vibe. 732 State St., Santa Barbara, santabarbarawinetherapy.com.
Villa Wine Bar
Villa features regional and imported wines by the glass, as well as a selection of eight, hard-to-find craft beers on tap that change weekly. Creative tapas, Panini’s and salads are also available at Villa, where Spanish tile, an indoor fountain and regular live music add to the overall charm of this cozy, inviting bar. 618 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, villawinebar.com.
Wine + Beer
Located in the SB Public Market in a glass-enclosed space, Wine + Beer caters to both wine and beer lovers—as the name implies—looking for a casual place to learn and sip. A wide selection of beer and wine is available by the bottle, by the glass and to go, and long communal tables add to the convivial spirit of the Public Market. Wine + Beer also offers regular monthly events, providing numerous opportunities to mingle with winemakers, meet fellow oenophiles and learn something new from the knowledgeable staff as you sip. 38 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, wineplusbeer.com.
The Wine Shepherd
Owned by the duo behind Los Alamos’ popular PICO Los Alamos restaurant, this unpretentious wine bar and bottle shop offers wines by the glass, flight and bottle, as well as bottles to go. Featuring a selection of small-production, lesser-known bottlings from across the globe, including from the Lumen Wines label produced by PICO co-owner Will Henry and Lane Tanner, there’s also a small menu of delectable, house-made charcuterie and local cheeses to accompany the wines. Don’t miss the “Unicorn Flight,” featuring a rotating selection of rare, vintage wines you won’t find anywhere else. 30 E. Ortega St., Santa Barbara, wineshepherdsb.com.
Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.