Husband Seth Kunin and wife Magan Eng sniff their new wines.

Paul Wellman

Husband Seth Kunin and wife Magan Eng sniff their new wines.

Upping the Urban Ante

Seth Kunin Doubles Down with Anacapa Vintners, His Second Funk Zone Tasting Room

Thursday, February 7, 2013
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When Seth Kunin opened a tasting room for his eponymous label down on Anacapa Street back in 2009, he was one of a handful of vintners pouring their wine in Santa Barbara proper, compared to the 100 or so then doing the same up north in wine country. Today, just four years later, the number of tasting rooms in town is fast approaching 20, and the buzz has never been louder, with constant media attention, a steady stream of patrons, and a nonprofit marketing association known as the Urban Wine Trail that incorporated last year. This month, Kunin doubles down on the future of both the urban wine scene and the waterfront Funk Zone neighborhood when he becomes the first winemaker to open a second tasting room there.

Called Anacapa Vintners and located on East Yanonali Street — across from urban originator Santa Barbara Winery, next door to Pali Wine Co., and right around the corner from his still-thriving original tasting room — the new spot will be “exploring the wines of Santa Barbara, one microclimate at a time,” said Kunin, who’s expanded from his longtime Rhône varietal focus to make small, roughly 150-case batches of chardonnay, pinot noir, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, malbec, merlot, and whatever else he can get his hands on.

“There is just so much happening since I started Kunin 15 years ago,” said the white-haired, bespectacled winemaker, a New York City native who came west for UCLA in the 1980s and then landed in Santa Barbara in 1990 to manage the Wine Cask before moving on to wine jobs at Gainey Vineyard in Santa Ynez and Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria. “You have to grow, mentally, financially, and in every other way, so what made the most sense for us was opening another place.”

On any given day at Anacapa Vintners, which opens this week, there might be 10 different wines to taste, broken down into appropriate flights and served in a stylish setting designed by architect Karl Kras, whose office is upstairs, and built by Nathan Modisette of BoMo Design. But the paramount point will be teaching visitors about what the county has to offer, and that lesson is embodied brilliantly in the floor-to-high-ceiling chalkboard-esque mural by Los Angeles–based artist Elkpen, whose map of the region is both accurate and entertaining.

The mural serves as a reminder that, while you can do tastings in town, the wine still comes from the vineyards up north, a relationship that Kunin’s new brand consciously celebrates. “I don’t like to be in competition with the valley — I think there is a place for both,” said Kunin, explaining that the urban scene makes wine tasting accessible to people who don’t have time to drive up to wine country. “It offers a different experience. We don’t have the vineyards, but we have the beach and shopping and a lot of other stuff.” And now, with Anacapa Vintners, there’ll be a steady stream of ever-changing options from all wine-growing corners of Santa Barbara County.

See or visit 114 East Yanonali Street.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Congratulations! Can't wait to check it out! Kunin's already the best tasting room in town!

toneupsb (anonymous profile)
February 8, 2013 at 7:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

more blight

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
February 10, 2013 at 12:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wine tours have been an incredible boost to Paso Robles economy. Most of their patrons are from So Cal, who drive through Santa Barbara to get there. Many kudos to this wonderful couple for risking private capital to capture more of this business for Santa Barbara.

SBLifer (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2013 at 10:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No doubt it's a fun place, and the wine is top quality. But can we please stop pretending that the Funk Zone is still some bohemian enclave for artists and the like when it's obviously undergoing intense gentrification and becoming just another enclave for the establishment to pretend they're bohemians on weekends.
And seriously, wouldn't you question the wisdom of someone who opened an ice cream parlor right next door to an ice cream parlor?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2013 at 12:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's an idea, for every bar that opens down in the ole FZ, the owners must also open a stand alone nonalcoholic art/entertainment venue with regular hours: a theatre, a gallery, a bookstore etc.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This new mural by our great local artist Wallace Piatt illustrates my comments:

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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