Before leaving Santa Barbara, I visit Sanguis Winery. It is one of two wineries I really want to experience during my month (the other is MarBeSo which I wrote about last post). My desire to visit starts with this quote I read on Sanguis’ website, “There is BEAUTY IN ORDER — but to merely accept this as a fact of life is to surrender to the status quo. In this way things will be predictable, monotonous and boring.The ‘Secret’ to making beautiful wine is to work hard at not giving into the seduction of routine and instead to continue experimenting and pushing the limits by exploring new directions. ” This sounds like a wine version of my philosophy of life. So I bike over after my lunch at La Super-Rica and knock on the door of the winery, set in Santa Barbara’s industrial area. The owner and winemaker Matthias Pippig lets me in and I find him and his co- worker Elliot having lunch.
I explained my mission and Matthias interrupts his lunch to talk to me about Sanguis and how it came to be in 2004 with his wife Jamie. Bavarian born Matthias has had many past lives including jazz musician and a stint at La Brea Bakery. I learn of his passion for capturing nature’s beauty in crafting electric Rhône and Bordeaux style blends. Matthias is heading out to Oregon for a new wine project, but he sets me up to have a tasting in a couple of days with his colleague Robin.
Robin amazes me wIth her knowledge. She tells me all about the building and how it became this unique winery at the edge of town. She shows me the process the winery is using to make the perfect wines, and how Sanguis embraces what nature provides. She talks about how they are working with the farmers in all aspects of the planting, pruning, and picking. Then we get down to the business of tasting. From Stolen Moments, to Loner to the Optimist to Bossman I am loving the depth and nuance of these wines. It won’t surprise any of my readers that I have to own some of the Optimist.
While we taste. we exchange ideas about travel and life. I do not know when I have had a better full range conversation with someone I had only just met. A native of Santa Barbara, Robin is an athlete ( dancer) and as such she has focus, spirit and the ability to rise to new challenges. She also loves food and before I go she gives me two good tips. Revolver Pizza and a new wine bar called Venus in Furs.
I am actually fairly hungry after the tasting and even though Robin was dubious that I could get a pizza that day, as they limit what they make, I give Revolver a call. Luck is with me.
A chef driven New York style pizza place only opened one month, Revolver takes on the name of the Beatles iconic album which for the Beatles was a leap into the future. So it is with the trio of men collaborating on this new venture. As Robin suggests, I take my prize pizza to Mesa Lane Beach nearby and have my own psychedelic experience of all my senses being happy from the memories of the day at Sanguis Winery and now the delicious pizza and the incredible view of the sun on the beach.
I have been following the Santa Barbara zoo on instagram and thinking of dropping by. I learn from my new friends Paul and Lynn that if I bike there I can also bike to the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge so that is my plan. The zoo is nicely laid out and manageable. I do believe I am the only person at the zoo without a child in tow, but I don’t care, I’m doing research.
A short bike ride later I am at the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge, one of the largest wildlife refuges in Santa Barbara County. It is named for the older sister of the heiress Huguenots Clark, who owned Bellosguardo (which is near the refuge), one of the several empty mansions of the reclusive copper heiress who died in 2011 at the age of 104. Bellosguardo sat furnished but unvisited by Huguette Clark after 1951. The staff was under orders to keep the home as it was, and automobiles remained in the carriage house with 1949 license plates, as described in the Clark biography Empty Mansions. The heiress funded the refuge in honor of her sister who died a week before her 17th birthday. There are over 200 species of birds in the refuge. It is so peaceful just sitting here taking in the refuge, the palm tress and the view of the ocean nearby.
Remembering Robin’s other recommendation, that night my neighbor Lynn and I head to the brand new Venus in Furs wine bar/cafe. It is a collaboration of a well known restaurant group in town named after the song by the Velvet Underground who named the song after an 1870 novella by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The front of house, Jamie, talks to us about the opening and gives us some background before we settle into a wine cocktail. All the cocktails are made with wine–not hard alcohol. Our choice is the Bee’s Lee’s, a delicious concoction of textured white winer, yellow peach blanc vermouth, honey and lemon.
After consulting with our lovely server, Jo, we smartly pair the drinks with some garden fritters made of olives, fried greens and citrus.
We eventually move on to try some of the wines paired with the spiced lamb belly and the melon with duck prosciutto and persimmons. A fun evening and so great to be able to walk to the restaurant and then walk home under the Santa Barbara moon. We didn’t have dessert and that may be my fault. Earlier in the day, hot from my bike ride I made a little stop.
The last morning in Santa Barbara I do one last bike ride along the beach. I lock my bike up and go for one last stroll at the water’s edge. Thank you Santa Barbara and thank you all the wonderful people I met during my month here. I’ll be back.