Satellite SB owner Drew Cuddy and Lindsey Reed created the Natural Coast Wine Festival to showcase the winemakers they respect and love from across the Central Coast.| Credit: Adrian Dentzel

While the natural wine scene was in full swing when Drew Cuddy opened Satellite S.B. on State Street in 2017, the practices of so many vintners aligned with the sustainably minded, vineyard-first, low-intervention winemaking movement are now much more on par with their passions.

“The amount of comfort that I have in pouring natural wines by the glass has grown so much over the last five years,” said Cuddy, who’s watched quality steadily increase from earlier days of occasionally flawed wines. “We’re in a new era for this type of wine. Cleanliness is increasing in huge ways, and that’s only accelerating people’s understanding and interest. Natural wine is blending into the quality wine world in interesting ways.”

So much so, in fact, that Cuddy and his longtime colleague Lindsey Reed are hosting nearly 50 like-minded wineries at the inaugural Natural Coast Wine Festival on April 22, when attendees will also get the first peek at Satellite’s brand-new event space on East Haley Street. Participants include Santa Ynez Valley stalwarts such as Ampelos, Lo-Fi, Solminer, and Whitcraft as well as an eclectic, under-the-radar array from across the Central Coast and beyond, such as Madson from Santa Cruz, Lone Madrone from Paso Robles, Doctor’s Orders from Ojai, and Ashkahn from Los Angeles.

“This really puts a spotlight on all of the people we work with the most that really fit our buying ethic,” said Cuddy, who credits Reed for the idea. “We feel like such a messenger for the region, which has been a surprise pleasure for me personally. Even though the Santa Ynez Valley and the Central Coast are just north of us, there’s not so much exposure in Santa Barbara. Other regions and countries still have a lot of play for the average wine drinker, so we want to showcase the people we love and respect.”

Defining natural wine remains a controversial and complicated topic in some circles, so Cuddy made very clear guidelines on which wineries qualify. Grapes must be farmed organically, fermented with native yeasts, and not filtered or fined. No additives are allowed whatsoever except for sulfur dioxide below 70 parts per million, and no “techno-wizard winemaking tricks” like reverse osmosis or cryo-extraction are welcome either. Break the rules and get banned for three years.

“The idea is just pure winemaking,” said Cuddy, who borrowed most of those rules from the Raw Wine organization that’s fostered natural wine globally through advocacy and festivals since 2012. “They’ve done a great job building a lot more consumer involvement and understanding.”

The Natural Coast Wine Festival’s official poster | Credit: Brenna Quigley

Coincidentally, Cuddy was able to attract so many participants to an inaugural event because Natural Coast is just before the Raw Wine Los Angeles on April 23 and 24. “In a way, we’re catching Central Coast producers who are on the festival circuit and on their way through town anyway,” he said. “So it was convenient timing.” 

He’s also not charging participants to pour, a rarity for festival formulas. Instead, Satellite is taking a cut from on-site bottle sales, an option usually not available at events like this. “The point is to not just showcase wines, but to interact with the producers and take home the wines you like,” he said. 

The second headline to this, of course, is that Satellite is doing so well that the wine bar is expanding to a second, much larger location with commissary kitchen and extensive outdoor space at 616 East Haley Street, sharing walls with Duo Catering. “Our kitchen right now on State Street is going to be smaller than our walk-in refrigerator,” laughed Cuddy of the locale where his business partner Emma West turns vegetarian ingredients into mouth-watering bites without fail. They’re planning to host events at the new spot, from their own pop-ups to weddings and company parties. 

What could be a more appropriate coming-out party than the Natural Coast Wine Festival? “There hasn’t been a definitive Central Coast show for natural wine,” said Cuddy, who’s excited to get these winemakers together in one place to share sips and ideas. “There is going to be a ton of diversity to taste and exposure to the wines that we get really hyped about at Satellite, but not everybody gets to try it.”

The Natural Coast Wine Festival is April 22, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., at 616 East Haley Street. See for details and tickets.


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