I have wanted to visit Municipal Winemakers for a while. We stopped in on our last trip through Santa Barbara a year and a half ago only to find that they were sold out and had no wines to taste! Well, if you are going to have a problem in the wine industry, I think that is the one to have. As we planned another trip through the area I did more research on the winery.
They are kitschy, located in The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail’s “Funk Zone”. Their winemaker Dave Potter wants to get the wine to the people. He loves making wine and meeting people who want to drink his wine. Distributors and sales…that creates the distance between the grape and the glass and takes some of the heart out of the process. So…Dave makes his wines and sells them in his tasting room. Small lots, high quality and it’s working if he is selling out before he can release another vintage!
This is not your average wine tasting room. Outside you have to see the sign on the sidewalk to realize that it is a tasting room, otherwise it looks like an old dive shop near the beach in Santa Barbara. There are picnic tables set up in an area out front. When you walk in you first notice the wall of stacked filing cabinets.
As we walked up for our tasting the person pouring pulled one drawer open and pulled out two glasses and oversized index card with a typed list of the tastings!
We tasted through the list, which included a dry, Riesling (Bright White), a Rose (Pale Pink), a Red Blend (Bright Red), a Pinot (Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir), a Cab and a sweeter Riesling (Sweetness). The bottles have great labels and each bottle has a bottle number listed. The rose was Grenache, Cinsault and Counoise and the “Bright Red” which I really enjoyed was the same blend with Syrah. The Bright Red was light on the palate but with big flavor. They do also have a “Wine Fountain” where they serve wine by the glass or in 1 liter refillable bottles.
We walked the neighborhood enjoying some more of the “Funk Zone” before heading up State Street. Next door there is an old red phone box labeled “Book Exchange” and filled with books. I had seen these on Facebook, but this was the first I had seen close up! Need a book, take a book, done with a book, leave it! It is a great concept! Lots of other wineries have tasting rooms in the area. Anacapa Vineyards is not even listed yet, they are so new! They have a beautiful tasting room with big windows and chalkboards on the walls filled with all kinds of interesting information on their grapes and wines. It is a regular wine education classroom!
Oreana Winery up the street has old trucks painted with their logo out front and a juke box in the garage that is part of their barrel room. Pali, which is next to Anacapa, has lots of windows and a patio on the side. Santa Barbara Winery sits in a white washed building covered in vines. In addition to the wineries listed on the Urban Wine Trail site, there are more popping up all the time. We saw a side door on a building that said “Drake”. This new little tasting room evidently recently opened. When we were later at Sculpterra in Paso, the person pouring for us said his friend had just opened that tasting room (the wine world is a small world).
While we only had time to taste at Municipal, we will happily return to spend a day or two tasting in the area and enjoying the beach. There are around 11 tasting rooms in “The Funk Zone” and another 9 or 10 within the downtown area, including Conway’s Deep Sea Tasting room out on Stearns Wharf.
For now…we were off to take a stroll up State Street and find Au Bon Climat (or ABC as it seems to be known here).