Sunday, May 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Celebrate harvest: Santa Barbara County has new wine tasting rooms, new wine events, and a new vintage


The latest winery to open a tasting room 
in Los Alamos is no stranger to local 
wine enthusiasts.

Municipal Winemakers, led by Dave Potter, has been producing compelling wine for years, selling it at the winery’s tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. Potter handcrafts the wines and sources most of the fruit in North County, and as of September, pours his wines there, too.

“My wife and I have loved coming up to Los Alamos on day trips for years now. ... Just for a quiet afternoon of some of the best food in the county,” wrote Potter, in an email to the Sun. “This move is really just a ploy to eat at Bell St. and Full of Life more frequently.”

“Cut lime, ginger, white flowers, and wet rocks” are the qualities found in the delightful 2013 Bright White Dry Riesling by Municipal Winemakers ($24).

The cool and cozy Los Alamos tasting room is located in the center of town on Bell Street, in “the little shack” in front of the Alamo Mote—which, by the way, is under new ownership. The Shelter Social Club, which owns The Hamlet Inn in Solvang, Ojai Rancho Inn, and Agave Inn and Sama Sama Kitchen in Santa Barbara, bought the motel and is renovating the whole place.

“The town feels great,” Potter added, 
“and we are really excited to become 
a part of the community.”

The new Municipal Winemakers tasting room pours a flight of five wines or wines by the glass. There is the 2013 Bright White dry riesling, the 2013 Blanche chenin blanc, the 2012 SBC pinot noir, the 2012 Dark Red syrah-cabernet sauvignon blend, and the 2013 Sweetness riesling—a wonderful balance of peaches, honey, and lemon.

 The tasting room, at 425 Bell St., is open noon to 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The website is

• • •

Municipal Winemakers is one of nearly 150 wineries participating in the 24th annual Santa Barbara Celebration of Harvest Weekend Oct. 10 through 13.

There are new events this year, such as the inaugural Friday night kick-off La Paulée de Santa Barbara dinner at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Solvang. Everyone attending brings and shares wine at the communal meal prepared by Chef Pink of Bacon & Brine.

Event organizers say the dinner “encapsulates the mission” of the weekend by bringing together winemakers and the community “to enjoy wines that have been put into the cellars for a special occasion.”

Municipal Winemakers produces an interesting variety of high quality wines, ranging from chenin blanc to counoise to grenache.

Saturday morning, Oct. 11, offers an educational opportunity to hear from six respected local wine producers and to taste their wines at the Santa Barbara Wine Seminar, also at the Veterans Memorial Hall.

Panelists include Andrew Murray, Dick Doré, Doug Margerum, Peter Stolpman, Richard Sanford, and Sonja Magdevski. Tickets are $30 per person.

The Festival Grand Tasting is 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, at a new location this year, the Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang. General admission is $75.

Bus service to the festival is offered from the Best Western Big America in Santa Maria at noon on Saturday, Oct. 11, returning from Solvang around 5 p.m., for $25.

That night, the alternative rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket, headlines a benefit concert at the Solvang Festival Theater. General admission is $65. VIP ticket holders ($150) will attend a band meet-and-greet with a photo opportunity before the show. All ticket prices include a souvenir wine glass and three tickets for wine tasting provided by seven Santa Barbara County wineries. The concert benefits the Santa Barbara Birth Center.

Also this year, Santa Barbara Vintners has teamed up with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County to sponsor a food drive.  Attendees who drop off a food donation at the festival will receive a ticket that goes into a drawing for a prize.

The rustically modern Municipal Winemakers tasting room opened in September in front of the Alamo Motel on Bell St. in Los Alamos.

“Gone are the days of the canned food drive,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of the Food Bank. “These days we encourage donations of whole grain flours, wild or brown rice, dried herbs and spices, dry roasted nuts and nut butters, dried beans and lentils, whole grain breads as well as low sodium canned soups, stews or chili, and canned fruit packed in fruit juice or water. We also accept fresh fruits and vegetables.”

In addition, the Food Bank will be the beneficiary of the silent auction held on the festival grounds from noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 11. Selected wineries participating in the Vintners Visa program will also collect food throughout the month of October.

“Partnering with the Food Bank is a natural fit,” said Jenny Williamson Doré, president of the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation. “Both the Food Bank and vintners are in the business of elevating people’s awareness of the importance of making good choices when at the table, as well as adopting a lifestyle focused on fresh ingredients, healthy food preparation, and the importance of taking the time to dine together as a family.”

Many wineries will have special events during the Harvest Celebration weekend such as winemaker dinners, Sideways film screenings, barbecues, barrel tastings, cheese and wine pairings, and open houses.

For information on all of the events during the Celebration of Harvest Weekend and to buy tickets, go to


Sun wine and food columnist Wendy Thies Sell raises her glass to the farmers, workers, and vintners in Santa Barbara County. Cheers! She can be contacted at

Weekly Poll
How should the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District improve its A-G completion rates?

Align graduation requirements with university entrance requirements.
Ensure that students and parents are well aware of A-Gs and what they are before high school.
Improve support services and summer school classes for students who fall behind.
Completion rates are fine as is. Not everyone wants to go to a four-year college!

| Poll Results