<b>QUAFFING COUPLE:</b>  Friends Jamie Heer (left) and Tucker Huget serve artisan-minded wine and beer at their new bar inside San Marcos Plaza.

Paul Wellman

QUAFFING COUPLE: Friends Jamie Heer (left) and Tucker Huget serve artisan-minded wine and beer at their new bar inside San Marcos Plaza.

Armada Wine & Beer Merchant Now Pouring

Ladies Helm the Ship at S.B.’s Newest Wine Bar

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Tucker Huget and Jaime Heer, proprietors of Armada, Santa Barbara’s newest wine and beer bar and mercantile, are having a chuckle. I’d asked what it’s like to work in such a male-dominated industry — apparently the gender-ambiguous nature of their names combined with today’s tendency to conduct business via email leads to a lot of surprised faces when new distributors walk through the door only to spot the two young women, both 27 years old.

But theirs are familiar faces to our town’s wine-loving community. Huget (from Kingston, Washington) and Heer (from San Diego) both came to Santa Barbara for college and stuck around, each landing what they initially considered “fun, part-time” jobs at Carr Winery’s downtown tasting room. The jobs ultimately lasted years, spawning relationships with producers and consumers and sparking a deep thirst for knowledge of the industry and passion for its culture. After years of dreaming, they marked their grand opening two weeks ago, at a packed event that spilled onto the courtyard (and surely had the downward-doggers at CorePower Yoga more than a little jealous).

Their palates came of age on Central Coast juice, but exploring other regions is a cornerstone of what they’re doing at Armada — hence the name. Inspired by the Spanish architecture and images of explorers and conquistadores carved into the facades of San Marcos Plaza, the off-State Street courtyard between Figueroa and Anapamu where they’re situated, their offerings are infused with a spirit of exploration.

And beer! With a Telegraph brewer serving as consultant, they’re also stocking an extensive list of craft brews that has aficionados stoked.

The space itself is casual, inviting, and beautifully designed, a chic, modern spin on a coastal theme balanced by cool, industrial touches. Off the tourist-beaten path, with plenty of cozy seating and a big open bar, it’s a score for locals, some of whom are already regulars. There’s even Wi-Fi and a TV that’ll be brought out for must-see events.

“We’re all about being comfortable, not intimidating, and not too expensive,” said Heer. As one patron put it, it’s “a breath of fresh air.”

Here’s some of what to expect:

Matua Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp and refreshing, this herbaceous 2013 from Marlborough, New Zealand, has notes of tropical fruit and melon; bright acidity keeps the finish nice and clean.

Lafage Miraflors Rosé: This mourvèdre-grenache gris 2012 blend from Provence, France, is a smooth specimen: Light and dry, the peachy drinker is slightly spicy, with melon, berry, and floral notes.

Baker & Brain Pinot Noir: This silky 2011 Central Coaster tastes like cherry cobbler baked in an outdoor oven, the fruit balanced with hints of baking spices, leather, and earth: dangerously drinkable.

St. Archer Blonde Ale: The Kölsch style leaves nowhere to hide, which is just fine in the case of this light ale out of San Diego. With notes of citrus and grass and a mild hoppiness, this beer is made for drinking.

Orval Trappist Ale: It’s like eating an apricot on a forest floor, we determined. (Yes, we’d been drinking.) This Belgian brew is equal parts floral and funky on the nose, earthy, and appropriately bitter in the mouth, with lots of carbonation. Chimay fans will be all over it.

Hercule Stout: It’s a classic stout and looks it; sipping reveals it’s relatively light bodied and not overly creamy. With notes of chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit, this needs to be poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and turned into a Beer Float. Immediately.


Armada Wine & Beer Merchant is located at 1129-A State Street. Call (805) 770-5912 or see


Independent Discussion Guidelines

These ladies have officially taken Santa Barbara's wine & beer scene up a notch. Their location is perfect for the 'Funk Zone fatigued.' A toast to their success!

ChristinaMahon (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 6:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

...because after all, there are places anyone can go anywhere near there and drink alcohol.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 9:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I meant to say "...because after all, there are no other places anyone can go anywhere near there and drink alcohol".

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 2:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh, and as a side note, I'm really glad to see high-end places taking over Santa Barbara and pushing the working-class bums out.

I want to see the entire area gentrified and cleansed of the blue-collar world.

I'll worry about the consequences later.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 3:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's called progress. The more high-end bars and wineries in the area means they are becoming more popular, people are refining their palate and drinking tastier, cleaner and more local beverages. With all of the competition this will bring prices on those goods down and the blue collar or service employees will be able to enjoy them more. By dispersing them out in more places it gives opportunity for more people from different neighborhoods to be able to walk to their local gastropub or high end tasting room instead of driving.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 4:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"It's called progress" it, sooooooooooo predictable.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 5:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@bill, have you ever seen what goes on at a vineyard or winery? Have you ever done a grape harvest? It's ALL blue collar, my friend. It is a LOT of long, hard work and a true labor of love. I for one am more than happy to frequent places like Armada, who support small-batch, lesser known, and grassroots operations. I highly encourage you to learn more before reacting with a knee jerk.

therealbebe (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Really...realbabe? I have to explain the underlying message of my post?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 9:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I gotta get back to work, hopefully someone will explain, but if not, I will explain what I meant in the next few hours.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 9:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It seems latly bilclausen that you are obsessed with making posts about alcohol.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 10:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

NOW I see! We're talking a better class of drunks, as opposed to the generic wino in the doorway who's too poor to do his drinking in a "high-end" bar. I'm so glad this has been clarified for me!

Better yet, if everyone would just stop fighting back, we could have a "high-end" bar on every corner, so the alcoholics can just stagger easily from bar to bar! And the wine producers will laugh all the way to the bank...I am SO glad I understand this now!

I now see that this is "progress"; more places for "high-end" people to get drunk (and hopefully just stagger blindly, instead of drive), and that anyone who doesn't like it just needs to "lighten up" and "raise a glass" and of course, make the already massive alcohol production and sales industry even richer.

While we're at it, let's get rid of grocery stores, playgrounds, art and music production facilities, "low-end" restaurants, schools, homes, hair salons, donut shops, jewelry stores, clothing stores, pet stores...oh wow...the possibilities are literally limitless! Why not? They did it in Los Olivos...replaced nearly everything with wine bars...with just a little effort, SB can be remodeled into one enormous bar! Progress!

Best yet, shutting down opposition is easy: just tell them to "lighten up and raise a glass" or "don't knock it until you try it!" (why works for everything else!), and if they keep pushing back, then call them Luddites and Prohibitionists, and shame them into silence.

In my travels, California stands out as a place with a great 12 month growing season, but with endless miles upon miles upon miles of its wonderful soil all given over to raising grapes to be processed into alcohol, not food. It's a running joke in my family when we drive by a field containing actual food: "Quick! Take a picture before they dig up all the veggies in that field and plant wine!"

This state could EASILY feed the entire country if not a huge chunk of the world, but we are blindly and slavishly devoted to a single, powerful industry and its endless promotion and cultivation at the expense of all else. Despite what the high-end alcoholics keep shouting, people can't live on alcohol. We need food. And at the rate things are going, food will become a luxury while alcohol will become even more plentiful and available than it already is.

Maybe that's the idea. Progress. More alcohol, less food.

Holly (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 10:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Good comment, Holly.

I have seen alcohol ruin the lives of too many people and their health, and thus avoid the stuff. Happy to have done so - results are good.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 11:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

t seems latly bilclausen that you are obsessed with making posts about alcohol.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2014 at 10:25 p.m

It only seems that way because so many of the articles on this site are related to alcohol.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 14, 2014 at 1:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

dolphinpod, it certainly isn't "lately" for Bill's constant and consistent comments about alcohol and its dangers. He took me to task, rightly, for not giving that aspect enough play in the Morua DUI homicide. Truth is, we take pretty lightly how much we ourselves, and the media, push booze. As a teacher of children, it's awful, and like Tabatha, I've seen so much damage from booze that I avoid the stuff. Viticulture has become a dominant monoculture in the SY Valley, and that's a shame.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 14, 2014 at 6:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Holly, when you drive by the vineyards you may want to take a photo of that too... it won't be too long that the less profitable land owners will rip out the vines and grow marijuana. Yup, its called change or progress. Called supply and demand. Let's see, you want to open a business, and actually pay the rent. Should you sell nachos, donuts or a place to buy cheap clothes? Could you actually make a living or keep the business open. Even restaurants fight to serve liquor because the profit margins are high. How can you or Bill blast females in their 20s for not wanting to something other than serve tables or whore out pharma drugs to doctors. I see this more as an empowering article of young women making an entreprenuerial example for other women. The universal gripe of people getting older, is comparing places to what they used to be. I remember back when I was these girls age, and it was fun, but what is available now is amazing. I hope well i get older I won't be a crappy complainer (perhaps achieve over 6000 comment posts on one of these websites) Don't worry there will be a shift from alcohol when marijuana becomes legal.

skaterspoint (anonymous profile)
March 15, 2014 at 8:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hmm, the Red Herring of gender polemic, that wasn't the point skaterspoint.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 15, 2014 at 5:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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