Chris Whitcraft, one of the seminal figures in the growth of Santa Barbara’s wine country and an early pioneer of the now-burgeoning urban wine scene, passed away over the weekend at age 64. Whitcraft began working at the Mayfare Wines store in Montecito in 1975 and was making his own wine later that year under the Whitcraft label, which specialized in pinot noir and chardonnay. He helped launch the Santa Barbara Wine Festival in 1980, which continues every June at the Museum of Natural History, and his was one of the first wineries to operate within city limits when he opened his facility on Calle César Chávez in 2006. He is survived by his daughter, Alyssa, and son, Drake, who now runs the winery. They are planning a party to celebrate their dad’s life, likely in late June.


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