Despite being headquartered in a veritable winemaking palace out toward Lompoc on Santa Rosa Road, the team at Sanford Winery just opened a tasting room in Santa Barbara’s La Arcada Court, one of the most picturesque places in all of downtown. Last week, winemaker Steve Fennell, who lives on the Mesa, told me a little bit about why.
You’ve got a beautiful winery and tasting room in the Sta. Rita Hills, so why open another one in downtown Santa Barbara? We’re seeing a trend where a lot of people who come up for the day aren’t interested in spending that whole day driving around the valley, so this offers an alternative. It’s very different, but the fact that there are some high-quality wineries with tasting facilities in Santa Barbara proper that are all close together is a choice that people can act on. This is a gateway, and we’re really encouraging people to go visit the winery. We’ll set up private tours and tastings and make that experience very special. It’s a gorgeous facility on Santa Rosa Road, but it’s also a little bit remote.
How did you decide on La Arcada? It’s a great location, a beautiful part of town, and we like how close it is to the Museum of Art and music venues. The building itself is historic, and that fits very well with the winery’s architecture, and the owners are really terrific people. They keep it up impeccably and are actively interested in the health of their tenants’ businesses. There has never been a tasting room in the immediate area, but there are a couple art galleries and some restaurants, so we thought it was really a complementary fit. We’ve been really happy.
What sets your tasting room apart? We have very high wine quality that we think is on par with the best in the area, and we’re very proud of the location and what we’ve done inside. We think it really works well with the casual elegance of the winery. And really just having above-and-beyond hospitality. We’ve got a very good manager in Jamie MacDowell, who is passionate about wine, incredibly warm and friendly with a good level of wine sophistication, but not pretentious in the least bit.
Sanford Winery’s tasting room is now open daily, noon-6 p.m. (Sun.-Thu.) and noon-7 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), in La Arcada Court, 1114 State Street, Suite 26. See sanfordwinery.com or cal 805-770-7873 for more info.