Wine tasting isn’t the only thing bringing visitors to Brick Barn Wine Estate in record numbers this summer.
Formerly home to a successful horse breeding facility, the 35-acre Buellton property recently announced a full slate of seasonal happenings (including live concerts, stand-up comedy shows, and outdoor film screenings), some of which sold out almost immediately.
“Our member-exclusive events, like Comedy Night and Movie Night, sell out within days, so that tells us people are ready to go out and enjoy themselves,” said the winery’s general manager, Elizabeth Dadosky.
Tickets are still available for the Brick Barn’s upcoming Summer Bash event (Friday, July 30, from 6 to 10 p.m.), described as a night of dancing, live music from the Soul Cats, and a Santa Maria-style barbecue dinner courtesy of JR’s Catering.
Although this barnyard bash is only open to wine club members, there are plenty of other offerings to go around for non-members, including the Wine Down Wednesday live music series (every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.), with upcoming acts including Dewey Roberts (July 21), Graybill (July 28), and Erinn Selkis (Aug. 18).
Brick Barn also currently hosts additional live music most Sunday afternoons (from 2 to 5 p.m.), with solo artists Lindsey Marie (July 18), Loren Radis (Aug. 22), and others currently on the docket.
“Life at the winery has only gotten busier for us,” said Dadosky, who added why she believes it’s a booming time for the wine industry in general, regardless of in-person events making a comeback.
“People are out having fun, reconnecting with friends and loved ones, and what better way to do that than over a bottle of wine? Wine is meant for sharing, and I think the activity of wine tasting is very popular right now for that very reason,” Dadosky said.
One of the reasons Dadosky was attracted to join the Brick Barn Wine Estate team back in 2019 was because the winery’s tasting room had opened only a year prior. And meeting the winery’s owners, Norman and Kathy Williams (who also owned the property while it was a horse breeding facility), sealed the deal for her.
“I was initially drawn to Brick Barn because it was a brand new winery and there was an opportunity to curate something from nothing,” Dadosky said. “After meeting Norman and Kathy, I knew I wanted to help bring their dream to life. What you experience at Brick Barn is an extension of their hospitality and passion for the craft.”
The property has been owned by the Williams family since 1968, and its titular brick barn was built during the early 1970s, with each of its bricks laid by hand. Over the next three decades, the 36-stall barn was home to the Williams’ prized Arabian stallion, Fortel, and the horses Fortel sired during his life.
At age 32, Fortel passed away, and the brick barn remained mostly vacant until 2012, when Norman and Kathy decided to repurpose the property as a vineyard. They planted 35 acres of vines that year, and their first wines were made from the 2015 vintage. Fortel’s barn was transformed into the winery’s tasting room, which opened to the public in 2018.
Although Dadosky became the tasting room’s general manager a year later, she had been working in the wine industry since 2005. It’s easy for her to bookmark that era in her memory thanks to a specific film release.
“My first winery job was at Firestone Vineyard while the movie Sideways [originally released at the end of 2004] was still in theaters. What a crazy summer,” Dadosky said.
A film, television, and theater major from the Great Lakes region, Dadosky originally moved to the Central Coast to work for Santa Maria’s Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA), but changed course after becoming engrossed in the local wine scene and its community of winemakers.
“I fell in love with the Central Coast and everything the world of wine had to offer—incredible food, amazing wine, and a cast of characters that would forever change the trajectory of my life,” she said.
Like Dadosky, winemaker Adrian Bolshoi also joined the Brick Barn Wine Estate team just a year after the tasting room had opened.
“I was drawn to Brick Barn for its artisanal production level, freedom to express myself through wine, and that hard-to-find sense of ‘something more,’” said Bolshoi, who was born and raised in Moldova, where he also attended college, studying enology and completing two wine harvests, before moving to California in 2011 for a winemaking internship.
On Friday, July 30, just an hour before Brick Barn’s Summer Bash festivities start, Bolshoi will host a special barrel tasting for wine club members at the winery, from 5 to 6 p.m., with samples including cabernet franc, pinot noir, chardonnay, and syrah.
To date, Brick Barn Wine Estate produces roughly 8,500 cases of wine per year, Bolshoi said. And while hours and admission policies fluctuated at the tasting room over the past year and a half due to pandemic protocols, “things never changed drastically for the winemaking and vineyard teams, who were plenty busy with harvest, bottling, and vineyard management,” Dadosky added.
In Bolshoi’s opinion, one of the reasons wine production has continued to run so smoothly at Brick Barn is a sense of family and trust between the owners and the winemaking team.
“The owners, Norman and Kathy Williams, graciously recognize that a familial work environment is beneficial for everyone,” Bolshoi said. “Here, I’m allowed to take creative freedoms because of their trust. And it’s a magical thing when your wine tasting palates align.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is ready to wine down at [email protected].