Friday, January 28, 2022     Volume: 22, Issue: 48
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Vintner and former filmmaker Anna Arrowsmith reflects on her Solvang wine bar's first year in business

CALEB WISEBLOOD

Fudge, toffee, kipper, biscuit, truffle. Is this a list of snacks, cute dog names, or wine club tiers? Answer: all of the above.


Follow the arrows
For more info on Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar, visit arrowsmithwine.com. The venue is located at 1539-C, Mission Drive, Solvang.

While donating a dollar per wine shipment to Little Wolf Rescue (a California-based animal rescue organization), the two co-owners of Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar decided to name the venue’s wine club levels after their five pups. 

For wife and husband Anna and Tim Arrowsmith, it’s hard to believe a full year has passed since their bar’s grand opening, during the fall of 2020, about six years after they moved from Britain to the U.S.

“We decided after two days in the Californian sun that we wanted to stay,” said Anna, as the couple’s 2014 California getaway evolved into a permanent stay. 


CUPID’S ARROW
Husband and wife Tim and Anna Arrowsmith moved from England to the U.S. in 2014. The prolific duo ended up buying a ranch with a compact vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, and opened Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar in Solvang in 2020.
COURTESY PHOTO BY HEATHER DAENITZ

They ended up buying a ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley with a compact vineyard, although neither Arrowsmith had aspirations to work in winemaking prior to moving in. With a Ph.D. in gender studies, Anna was working as a lecturer at UCSB before setting her sights on a possible career shift.

“I kept driving past Wandering Dog Wine Bar for a few months when it was for sale, which was one of the few places we liked to drink in the valley, and I couldn’t drop the idea of buying the business, so eventually I did it,” Anna said.

While transforming the former home of Wandering Dog into Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar, Anna said getting situated into the local winemaking scene was the kind of feat she and her husband have become used to facing over the years.

“Tim and I both have varied backgrounds, we’ve changed careers a couple of times before, so we’re used to adapting,” said Anna, who—under the pseudonym Anna Span—formerly worked as a prominent director and producer in the European adult film industry, starting in the late 1990s.


SWEET TREATS
Wine, beer, tea, and decadent specialities (including the bar’s chocolate hummus with biscotti) are just a few offerings bringing first-timers and regulars (back for more) to the bar over the past year.
COURTESY PHOTO BY HEATHER DAENITZ

In 2010, Anna ran for a seat on British Parliament and based her campaign on subjects of feminism and freedom of speech. She’s also authored two nonfiction books, one on adult filmmaking, and another based on her 2013 Ph.D. thesis on gender studies.

When it comes to the couple’s new wine bar venture, one former job Anna constantly refers back to is her stint as a bartender. 

“When we first moved to the States, I worked in a bar in Altadena, California, where you would rub shoulders with all types of people, from literal rocket scientists to construction workers and everything in between, which is why I worked there, it was great,” Anna said. “I wanted the same vibe at my bar, so I worked on keeping it that way.”


WANDERING EYES
“I kept driving past Wandering Dog Wine Bar for a few months when it was for sale, which was one of the few places we liked to drink in the valley, and I couldn’t drop the idea of buying the business, so eventually I did it,” said Anna Arrowsmith, who transformed the site into Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar.
COURTESY PHOTO BY HEATHER DAENITZ

One of the best things about walking into any bar in California is “you never know who you are talking to,” Anna explained. “Pretty much everyone has got an interesting story to tell.”

Speaking of stories, many readers are probably getting curious about how Anna and Tim first met. Let’s take a moment to rewind a bit, to 2007.

“We were both on Guardian Soulmates, the dating site for the British newspaper, back when online dating was weird,” Anna said. “We actually messaged each other 50 times before we met, which seems archaic now.”

Eighteen months later, the two were married. Like Anna, Tim is a passionate scholar, currently in the middle of his Ph.D. research project through the London College of Fashion. His concentration is on post-WWII British motorcycle clothing, roughly spanning from 1945 to 1970. Tim’s project entails a deep dive into the roles and ramifications of social groups in British culture, including British late-night cafe culture.

These are just a few of the unique academic topics the couple hopes to bring to an upcoming lecture series at the wine bar, although the series will mainly consist of guest speakers. The series’ diverse topics will range from various subjects, including philosophy and science, aiming “to get a balance of interests across the board to appeal to as many people as possible,” Anna said.


THE RED WINES ARE COMING
While turning the former home of Wandering Dog into Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar, former filmmaker and lecturer Anna Arrowsmith said getting situated into the wine industry was the kind of feat she and her husband have become used to facing over the years. “Tim and I both have varied backgrounds, we’ve changed careers a couple of times before, so we’re used to adapting.”
COURTESY PHOTO BY HEATHER DAENITZ

Events like these, including the venue’s new poetry night series as well (slated to kick off on Sunday, Dec. 5), tie into the Arrowsmith’s goal of bringing something fresh and unique to Solvang’s bar scene.

“We didn’t get into this to make just another bar, we wanted something special, something different, and we are constantly striving to stand out against the corporate beverage world,” Anna said.

Wine, beer, tea, and decadent specialities (including the bar’s chocolate hummus with biscotti) aren’t the only offerings bringing first-timers and regulars (back for more) to the bar. Live music is already a mainstay at the venue, and with additional weekly events on the horizon, it’s sure to become even more of a happening hangout spot.

“It’s such a joy to look back on it and see the community we have built around the bar, that’s exactly what we wanted, lots of interesting, fun people to hang out with,” Anna said.

Send your favorite dog names to Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood at cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.










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