Buttonwood Flowering Blossoms

Buttonwood Cherry Blossoms

Flowering trees, such as the beautiful almond tree above, are one of the best examples of feng shui plant life.  Not only do most of these trees sprout delicious nuts or fruit, but their blossoms give off an alluring scent that carries on the air.   Flowering branches also have auspicious symbolism.  Because they usually bloom in winter or early spring, these floral tendrils represent longevity and  overcoming great burdens.  There are not many blossomy trees in my neighborhood, so I usually resort to the Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion from Bath and Body Works (the smell is to die for).  However, on a recent trip to Solvang, a generous collection of these beneficial plants reside at Buttonwood Farm.

Buttonwood Back View

Originally an equestrian ranch established by philanthropist Betty Williams, the property now boasts a vast vineyard, tasting room, and organic farm.  Pictured above is is the back entrance to the tasting room, which leads out to their intricate and beautiful gardens.

Buttonwood 02

The tasting room is stylish and very serviceable.  Two tasting bars reside on either side of the space, allowing for easy flow of patrons.   I love the living chandelier of leaves – a highly conducive and artistic example of the wood element.

Buttonwood Duck

Buttonwood also has many farm-fresh products for sale, including olive oils, preserves, salsas – and my personal favorite – the Raspberry Grenache-Syrah Chocolate sauce.  Decadent and loaded with antioxidants, this sauce is ideal for desserts or a chocolate martini.

Buttonwood 01

Wine barrels are used as support for an elegant table in the middle of the room.  I love barrel furniture, and it’s a green and economical way of reusing these vessels.  Powerful and striking images painted by Seyburn Zorthian grace the walls.  Much of Seyburn’s art is highly influenced by her study of Shoudo, the passionate brush stroke technique of Japanese and Chinese writing.  She also creates the artwork featured on Buttonwood’s wine labels.  For more information about her art, please visit her website here:  http://www.seyburnzorthian.com/artist.html

Buttonwood Fountain

I was captivated by this gorgeous fountain nestled in a private garden outside the tasting room.  Working fountains with clear, clean water add beneficial and peaceful chi (energy) to an environment.

Buttonwood Grounds 01

Daffodils were in full bloom when we visited.  Also known as narcissus or jonquils, these flowers have a myriad of symbolic meaning.  In feng shui folklore, the white ones represent the flowering of one’s talents and skills, and can be used in furthering one’s career. I also think they are great examples of spring; they remind me of hunting for Easter eggs as a kid.

Buttonwood Grounds 03

There were many different wines  l sampled.  My favorites were:

  • 2010 Devin – An irresistible  sauvignon blanc.  Influences of honey, lemon and apricot come through in a charismatic fashion.  Crisp and complex.
  • 2009 Marsanne – A decadent white.  Hints of honeycomb and marzipan contrast nicely with a crisp taste and rich body.  Flavorful and refreshing.  (Sold Out)
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc – Sage and raspberry take center stage with this enticing red.   Very easy to drink.  Silky and sophisticated.
  • 2009 Trevin – An intoxicating red blend composed mostly of Cab Franc.  Vanilla, rhubarb and dark berries were the notes highlighted on my palate.  Tasteful with a lingering finish.
  • 2010 POSH – One of the best ports I’ve had.  Dark cocoa and espresso make their presence known, with a holiday influence of cinnamon, orange and cherry.  (A bottle came home with me.)

Rhea and Victoria

I also got to meet fellow feng shui consultant, writer and interior designer Rhea Peake (pictured left here with my friend Victoria).  She has many years experience in creating sacred spaces and improving environments, as well as a plethora of other skills and talents.  In addition to her strong ties with Buttonwood, she is based in Santa Barbara, Hawaii  and Vancouver.  For more information, please visit her website here:  http://www.rheapeake.com

Buttonwood Grounds 02

Comfortable seating is placed purposefully around the gardens, encouraging guests to linger with some wine and a picnic lunch.  In addition to their tastings, Buttonwood also hosts many different events throughout the year, including a crawfish boil.  I also suggest checking their website for some  stellar recipes (I will be trying the olive oil cake recipe first) as well as their informative blog Buttonwords.  I am going to try to come up at least one more time before the seasons dramatically change, so I can sit under a flowering tree with a glass of Cab Franc and just immerse myself in the auspicious environment that is Buttonwood Farm.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard

1500 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, CA 93463

805-688-3032

Hours:  Open Daily 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

http://www.buttonwoodwinery.com

Buttonwood Front Entrance

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Bacon and Bubbly

Curtained Window

I love visual art.  Growing up, I would attend museums whenever possible, and pour through coffee table books of famous paintings.  Good visual art – whether one likes it or not – makes one think and feel.  A couple of years ago, while conducting some online research, I stumbled upon a recreation of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night – completely made out of bacon.   This version of Van Gogh’s masterpiece combined two things I love – fine visual art and pork.

Starry Night ComboAs one can see from the photo above, the likeness between the bacon matches the original pretty well.   A step-by-step process on how to fashion the Bacon Starry Night can be found here:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Van-Gogh-for-Breakfast/  Another amazing bacon pairing I recently attended was Bacon and Bubbly, a monthly event held at WineExpo, a boutique wine and spirits store in Santa Monica.  This event pairs five gourmet bacons with five scrumptious champagnes.

Expo Interior 01

Completely concealed from the street, a large tasting room is located in the store.  A rotating collection of elegant art adorns the walls.

Rooster Plate

Once seated, my party and I were treated to a little rose to cleanse the palette, and then we started off with our first champagne.  Unique and eclectic tableware is used throughout.  I  really want to get a set of those rooster plates.

Bacon Platter

And then the bacon arrived.  Five different selections, with bread, crackers, peanuts and olives completed the offering.  I really like that they serve all the bacon to you at once, because it let’s one taste each kind of bacon with each champagne at their own pace.  Now, I do believe these change per month, but here are the ones we sampled:

  • For the Love of Hog!  Apple Cinnamon Bacon – Subtle hints of apple .  Sublime.
  • Bourbon Street Vanilla Bourbon Bacon – My favorite of the group.  This was the perfect yin and yang combination of savory and sweet.  Highly delectable – I could eat this every day.
  • Rocco’s Private Reserve Sun Dried Tomato Bacon – My second favorite.  I would add this to spaghetti or carbonara pasta.  The tomato influences highly dominate.  Rich and sun-kissed.
  • Big Daddy’s Cracked Pepper Garlic Bacon – Ideal for breakfast, this is a bacon classic.  This would be great on BLT’s.  Robust and tasty.
  • Coastal Calliente Chipotle Bacon – This was served to us as a country-cut, which is a much thicker piece of bacon.  Spicy and sultry.  I loved it.

Curtained Table

And then there were the five champagnes, all of which were delicious.  My two favorites were:

  • Arunda Metodo Classico Extra Brut Riserva, Alto Adige Italy – This beguiling bubbly beverage uses grapes harvested in the Alps.  Sweet, lush, and addictive.
  • Gardet Selected Reserve a Chigny-les-Roses – One of two rose sparkling champagnes we tried this had the perfect amount of sweetness.  I love that pinot noir and chardonnay are the two main components,, creating a flavorful luxuriousness to the drink.

Expo Crostini

Crostini – As assortment of various crostini can be ordered on their select menu, in addition to selection offerings from Pizzas of Venice.

Bacon Brownie 02

Bacon Brownie – This tantalizing morsel was our dessert for the tasting,  Available from Bacon Freak, it’s a divine treasure and currently, they’re on sale for $1.00 each right here:  http://www.baconfreak.com/bacon-brownies.html

Expo Interior 02

It wasn’t just the champagne and bacon that allured me to WineExpo, but also the art on the walls.  In feng shui, art is vital in creating a peaceful and rejuvenating environment.  There is good, beneficial art for the home, and there are paintings and art that are not good for the home.  All the art here is displayed in a museum-like setting, and the current display is highly auspicious.  One good example is pictured above.  A peaceful landscape is brilliant for nearly any room in a home.  Here are some other tips when looking for ideal feng shui art:

  • You Need to Love It – Art is subjective, and if there is a piece of art displayed in your home that you despise and loathe, I suggest removing it, or relocating it to a place where it will not be seen often.   Art for the home has different meanings, depending on the room and environment.  But regardless, if one doesn’t like the art hanging, it will only attractive sha (negative energy) to the area.
  • Landscapes –  As I said before, beautiful landscapes are brilliant for attracting chi (good energy) to a home.  Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and John Singer Sargent are a few of many brilliant landscape artists.
  • No War or Shipwrecks –  Images portraying war, hunting, or sinking ships are generally not auspicious for most rooms in a house.
  • Severed Limbs are Bad – The same goes with paintings of dead bodies or severed limbs.   This is especially true for kitchens and dining rooms where food is prepared.  This type of art can literally ruin a person’s appetite, and dissuade people from using the space.  Even if it’s a Salvador Dali, if there are arms and legs just hanging about in the scene, the art doesn’t belong in a room where people eat or prepare food.
  • Romancing the Stone – For the bedroom, find art that is sensual in nature to you.  This will help to attract more romantic chi.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh – For children’s rooms, find art that is pastel in colors, and images that are calming and peaceful.  Winnie and his group are great examples.

Expo Art

What do you see?  In this painting from the tasting room, I see a woman in a ball gown about to shoot an arrow.  But there can be several different interpretations.

Expo Store 03

WineExpo has an enormous selection of choice wine, beer, and liquor.  I was fortunate to also attend their 20th Anniversary Celebration, where I sampled even more of their scintillating libations.  My favorite hands-down was the Tirle ’04 Rosso Tuscano, a heavenly Italian red.  A bottle of it came home with me.   (Notice that there is a small vineyard landscape on the label.)

Tirle 2004

The staff here is absolutely excellent, Alicia, Nick, and Roberto were all friendly, humorous and highly educated about wine and spirits.  Speaking of education, they also offer wine classes among the many great events at WineExpo.  Others include their 20 Wines for $20 Nights, where one may sample twenty wines for the unbelievable price of $20.00.  These occur on Mondays and Thursdays.  The other five days of the week they have their Happy Hour, from 5:00 – 7:00, which glasses of wine are 50% off.  And on Tuesdays, for beer lovers, they have their 15 Beers for $15 Night.  Bacon and Bubbly has become an incredible hit, and is now a monthly happening!  Live music performances, gourmet food trucks, and other exciting ventures color their social scene.  More information about future events can be found here:  http://wineexpo.com/events/  Their website is updated often, and contains a wealth of wine knowledge.  A small lot provides ample parking.

My next visit will be during the month of October, when I will be attending the next Bacon and Bubbly.  I wonder if such a thing as pumpkin bacon exists?  Hmmmm….

Expo Shelves

WineExpo

2933 Santa Monica Blvd Santa Monica, Ca 90404

310-828-4428

Wine Store Hours:  Monday – Wednesday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday 10:00 am – Midnight, Sunday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Tasting Room Hours:  Sunday – Wednesday 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Thursday – Saturday 5:00 pm – Midnight

http://wineexpo.com/

The Scarlet Letter

Apothic Logo

Due to some circumstances beyond my control, I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress over the past few weeks.  Stress of any kind attracts sha (negative energy) to an individual and/or space. Depending on the person, stress can cause a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, skin issues, sexual performance problems, and a weakened immune system.  For me personally, I suffer from insomnia, and the resulting fatigue and lack of energy that comes along with it.  Unfortunately, stress is an inescapable part of life.  But, it can be reduced and dealt with accordingly.  One way I like to unwind is to pour myself a glass of wine, such as the red blend from Apothic Wines.

Apothic Echos

Created by winemaker Boyd Morrison in 2007, Apothic harvests its grapes from Lodi to make some of the most tantalizing blends I’ve ever had.  I was first introduced to it  on a weekend away in Big Bear a few years ago.  It was love at first taste.  The name Apothic comes from the word Apotheca;  a mysterious place where wine was created and stored in the 13th century.  The “ic” portion of the name comes from the word epic (which this wine definitely is).

Apothic Red

Apothic Red – A seductive blend of zinfandel, syrah, cabernet and merlot.  While this is definitely not a dessert wine, I found the bold and rich taste of chocolate to be highly prevalent (probably from the zinfandel grapes used).  Vanilla, blueberry, raspberry, and mocha flavors also permeate the libation.  An excellent choice for every wine lover’s palette.  Even if you’re not an aficionado of red wine, try this.  It’s impressive taste lingers upon the senses.  Unforgettable.

Apothic White

Apothic White – I had this recently at a dinner party, and the first taste to assuage my senses was honey.  Sweet honeysuckle, vanilla, and mellow pineapple bring forth images of hot summer days in tropical climates.  A friend suggested adding actual honey to the wine, which I am inclined to do for a more digestif appeal.  Best served chilled, although ours was not; we added a few ice shards instead.  Sultry and beguiling.

Apothic Rose

Apothic Rose – A limited edition released this year, this is a very stylish blush wine.  Strawberries with hints of cream, nutmeg, and watermelon are the dominant flavors.   This pairs amazingly well with Trader Joe’s Carrot Zucchini Bread.  Charming and sweet.

Apothic Wine Art

Wine Advertisement Art by Aurie Singletary of Cargo Collective.  See more of her incredible images at her site:  http://cargocollective.com/auriesingletary/Apothic-Wine

Apothic Red Pond and Trees

From a feng shui perspective, there are many ways to deal with stress.  Here are a few things I do to help relax and rejuvenate during stressful times:

  • Gaze at some art – Whether is be online or at a museum, spend some time browsing artists of various styles.  This helps to relieve the mind of worrisome thoughts, and let’s people focus their attention on an item of beauty.  Even if one doesn’t like a piece of art, it’s always thought-provoking.
  • Clear the clutter – Remove and reorganize any clutter in your environment – especially in the bedroom   Clutter also attracts sha, stressing people out the more and more it collects. Take a half hour or so to clear some of this away from you environment, or at the very least, remove it from the bedroom.
  • Get some fresh air – Open up all the windows and let fresh air into the space, for about an hour (weather and temperature permitting).   Air and breezes from outside help remove the stagnant, yin air of the area, attracting more fresh,yang energy inside.  Taking a nice stroll around a park or neighborhood also helps.
  • Take a bath – As opposed to showers, baths helps to relax the body rather than stimulate.    There are all sorts of various things one can add for the ultimate bath experience.  I like bubble bath, some essential oil (usually lavender or eucalyptus), bath salts, and apple cider vinegar.  Why the vinegar, you ask?  It’s a skin equalizer.  If you have dry skin, it helps to naturally moisturize.  If you have oily skin, it helps to draw out the unnecessary oils.
  • Aromatherapy – Lighting candles or incense is a very quick way to alter a space for the better.  For calming, I suggest vanilla, lavender, or sandalwood.
  • Calming music – Various kinds of music can help one to relax.  Studies have shown that classical music alters brain waves, slowing down heart rate and breathing to a more calming rhythm.  Soft jazz and new age music also have the same effect.  (Enya is awesome)
  • Unwind with wine – A glass of red wine a day is good for the body and improves memory.  It also helps to relax.  After my second glass, I feel much better.

These are but a few of the ways one can de-stress.  There are many others, and they’re different for everyone.  Some of my friends play video games, or go for a mile run, or do yoga, or meditate.  Find what works best for you.

Haunting Apothic Poster

Apothic has  a choice selection of luxurious products for sale on their website, like the beautiful poster pictured above.  They also have a new black, stemless wineglass I’m sort of in love with.  All of their products are here:  http://store.apothic.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showlist

Opera Wine Quote

Apothic can be found at a variety of locations, including CVS, Target and Trader Joe’s.  Also, check your local supermarket, bodega, or liqueur store.  Many of them in the Los Angeles area carry Apothic, although the rose is much harder to find than the red or white.   There is also a store locator  on the Apothic site here:  http://www.apothic.com/where-to-buy.asp  The price for this relaxation in a bottle is around $9.00 – $11.00.   I would not recommend purchasing online, as the shipping costs from all available distributors seems grievously high.

To unwind from the day tonight, I plan on having some Apothic Rose as I lounge in a warm bath courtesy of that amazing gentleman, Mr. Bubble.

http://www.apothic.com/

*Uncredited Apothic images provided courtesy of Apothic Wines.

The Feng Shui of a Wedding

Recently, a friend of mine forwarded me the most ridiculous story about a restaurant in New York.  One location of a high-end Japanese/sushi chain cancelled a  previously scheduled rehearsal dinner because of the couple’s sexual orientation; the happy couple was two men.  Now there may have been some prejudicial viewpoints here, but what really astounded me was that the manager who cancelled the event claimed that it would be bad feng shui to host a celebration promoting same-sex marriage.  This is completely ludicrous!  Weddings, receptions, and rehearsal dinners held at any venue generally enhance the chi of an area, especially if the couple is truly in love.  The positive energy from the wedding party and guests seeps into a place, promoting more prosperity and abundance for all.   And this type of beneficial event is not affected by orientation, race, age discrepancy, or religious beliefs.  There are a couple of very rare exceptions when a wedding can provide negative energy, but that usually is directly connected to the health of the celebrated couple’s relationship.  For example, one part of the couple decides to abandon the other at the altar.  This is not usually good, and not a cause for celebration.   Another example would be if the couple is being coerced into matrimony under some kind of duress.   Rare events like this can attract  sha (negative chi) into the environment.   According to The Huffington Post, this specific location of the sushi chain has closed down, and a law suit is in place.  To read more about it, take a look at the article here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/new-york-sushi-restaurant-gay-feng-shui_n_1893747.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003.

In October, I attended an amazing wedding celebration of my dear friends Tracy Clifton and Michael Pierce.   I was really impressed by the feng shui elements they brought to the ceremony and following reception.  They chose to have their wedding at The Vineyards, an event location in the foothills of Simi Valley.  Currently it is being used primary for weddings, and will be in operation as a winery  in a couple of years when their grape harvests reach full maturity.  The nuptials were  held in the Vineyards’ lavish garden, where the five elements were in full harmonious play.   A beautiful waterfall brought in flowing water energy, while healthy, nurturing trees and plants were the perfect backdrop of thriving wood.  An ornate gazebo of scrolled flourishes acted as a metal canopy over the wedding party.  The earth was present in the form of garden soil and the lovely walkway (pictured below).  As for fire, that was evident in the sun’s rays gently landing on everyone.   The ceremony was one of the best I’ve ever attended, being extremely honest and heartfelt.  As well as writing their own vows, poetry was also read by various members of the wedding party.  When one’s own writing, or writing they deeply connect to, is introduced into a ceremony, it adds a beneficial wood element to the ritual.  Wood is the creative element that feeds fire, thus these personal words are feeding the fire here of love and passion.  The union was officiated by Tracy’s cousin, Tom McElroy, a Christian Science Practitioner.  The wedding party and a couple of guest can be seen in the photo above (that’s me in the brown hat).

After the ceremony, everyone made their way to the Sunset Room, where the reception was to be held.  The main building of The Vineyards has many elaborate touches I really liked, including the grand wooden staircase.  Elegantly carved, it added an auspicious sense of luxury to the entry hall.  I also liked the carpet throughout.  Golden leaves on a background of chocolate brown.  Earthy in color, this is a great example of bringing outside energy to the indoors.

The theme for the wedding was Old Children’s Books.  Not only did I think this a very novel approach (pun intended), It was yet another example of the creative wood element of books and writing.  This permeated the event in highly favorable ways.  Each table was named after a different literary work.   My table (which, I have to say, was the most lively of the gathering-not that I’m biased) was Where the Sidewalk Ends.  As party favors, each guest received a small matchbox filled with magnetic poetry, which brought out creative wood energy in everyone.  I also liked the thought that was taken as to where each guest would sit.  Everyone at each table seemed to get along famously, adding to the prosperous energy of the day.

Each table had a lovely centerpiece made from old books, vintage book paper, and flowers.  My friends Kristy and Zach graciously posed behind it.  As an avid reader, I love books.  One common misconception about books in feng shui is that they should never be stored in the bedroom.  Many consultants feel that the creative energy put into process of writing books can damage the occupant’s ability to rest.  I disagree with this.  If space is limited, or one is sharing a home with roommates, books can indeed be stored in the bedroom.  It is just a matter of how.  A proper bookcase should be used and placed away from headboard and bed.  No one wants books falling on them while they slumber (those headboards with bookcases in them should be removed promptly; they’re no good).  If possible, one should get a bookcase or cabinet with doors, to “conceal” the books.  And never put books under the bed.  This can negatively affect the health and romance of those who sleep there.  I have two bookcases in my bedroom, but they are not close to the bed, kept free of dust, and artfully arranged by author.

Rather than use real flowers for the bridal party bouquets, Tracy went with a more literary alternative:  paper bouquets made from vintage book paper.  I believe she had them specially made from a craftsman on Etsy.com  I will have to find out and update this information at a later date.

The view from the Sunset Room was absolutely sublime.  Lazy clouds lingered casually over a residential area of Simi Valley.  It had rained earlier in the day, long before the ceremony.  According to many different traditions including Hinduism, rain on one’s wedding day is a sign of prosperity and fertility.  Others feel it is the tears of God blessing the marriage.  From a feng shui perspective, rain on the day of the event is very auspicious!  Not a lot, mind you, but enough to add a little water influence to the festivities.  Water is the source of all life on Earth, and rain on the happy day adds a prosperous, stable element to the life of the marriage.   Rain also alters the physical environment of the sky, which can enhance photography for the event  (such as the clouds pictured above).  And, an umbrella can make for an endearing photo prop.

And then there was the tantalizing meal!  Rather than having servers maneuver plates of food around guests, Benni and Tracy chose to have a buffet  (We call Michael by his nickname, Benni, because of his love for the comedian Benny Hill).   The food, deserts, and appetizers were provided by Dave’s Catering and Event Planning.  Every morsel was a taste in heavenly perfection.  The filet mignon was tender and succulent.  The butternut squash lasagna captivated everyone.  The chicken cordon bleu melted in one’s mouth.  All of the appetizers were also sinfully good.  My favorites were the sliders (I think made of turkey?), Caprese skewers, and this little item to the left.  Mouthwatering ahi nestled into a little won ton shell and topped with wasabi mayo.  I could have eaten them all day (I consumed at least a dozen).   Rather than go with the traditional wedding cake, the couple opted to go with cake pops of varying flavors.  They also had chocolate covered strawberries, and these amazing mini cheesecake bites (pictured below).  For more information on Dave’s Catering, and some purely intoxicating recipes, one can visit their website and blog here:    http://davescatering.wordpress.com/

Another important aspect to any wedding that I have yet to mention is the dancing.  I feel dancing at weddings is extremely vital.  It speaks to a more tribal element of loved ones coming together in celebration, and adds a wonderful yang energy to the gathering.  The dance floor was situated underneath an elaborate chandelier (pictured at top).  I was quite impressed by some of the humorous and talented dance moves exhibited by my friends and other guests.  I, too, shook my tail feather a bit.  As for the chi of this specific wedding and reception, I would have to say they were both highly auspicious.  These were the perfect inaugural events to further Tracy and Benni on a lifetime of prosperity, love, and abundance.  I wish them all the best in the world, and may their lives be continually auspicious.

*Chandelier photo courtesy of  E. Osbaldeston.  Ceremony photo courtesy of J. Sosta.

Wine: An Old School Perspective

On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I was introduced to an unusually captivating wine merchant known as Municipal Winemakers.   While I was waiting for my friends to arrive, I grabbed a glass of their robust MCS, and perused my surroundings.  The tasting hall here promotes comfort in an artistic and environmentally-conscious fashion.  A large warehouse door (pictured above) opens up to the outside world letting in light and fresh ocean air. Surplus wine bottles and tasting glasses are stored in upcycled file cabinets. The seating is a mixture of reclaimed wood benches, padded folding chairs and classic science lab stools.  Bookshelves constructed of wooden crates are laden with 1980’s textbooks and vintage high school trophies.  One of the many items that captured my attention was the illustrious chandelier (pictured below).  This is actually constructed using a wine bottle washer, which is the large metal frame holding all the bottles in place.   Lovely and enigmatic, this piece is a wonderful example of water, metal and fire elements.  This also helps to counteract the negative influence of the beams present.  I am not a fan of exposed beams in any environment.  From a feng shui standpoint, they create negative influences in health and relationships.  The fastest way to alter the beams here would be to paint them and the ceiling the same color; thus making them symbolically disappear into the ether.  However, the various lighting in the space helps to soften the unfavorable effects of the beams.

On the right we have a more detailed image of the wine bottle chandelier.  On the left are the metal lanterns inscribed with Dan’s in primary red, which hang about most of the ceiling.  My guess is they reclaimed them from somewhere, but I’ve no idea where.

The momentous piece of art above is actually raised a bit, encompassing paint and other materials.  The gold pieces in the ore are shards of brass veneer from vintage high school sports trophies.  From a feng shui perspective, the environment at Municipal captures most of the five elements beautifully:

  • Wood –The art hanging about the walls, and the plants located directly outside.
  • Fire – The nostalgic wood-burning stove situated in one corner of the room.
  • Metal – The art, tables,chairs, chandelier, roof, and file cabinets.
  • Earth –  The rich colors of browns, grays, and earthy reds.
  • Water – The glass bottles, the horse painting in the bathroom, and the blue and slate gray hues.

Now while the metal, water, and fire elements are displayed here quite well, the room is lacking a little wood and earth energy for my liking.  Even though they have a lot of wonderful wood furniture – which is best material for furniture in my opinion – it cannot be considered a wood element because the wood is dead.  However, the sheer amount of art from various craftsmen, displayed around the environment, helps to foster the creative wood energy.  As for earth, the main examples here are in the form of different colors.  But I do love the classic globe perched atop one of the file cabinets.  So here symbolically, the earth is also present.

And now on to the wine.   I sampled six delicious wines, and fell for each one of them:

  • 2011 Bright White – an arid riesling with hints of tart citrus.  Perfect for a summer day.
  • 2011 Sweetness Reisling – Sweet and clandestine, this white wine has an alluring bouquet with hints of honey and orange.  Intoxicating.
  • 2011 Rose – A refreshing, subtly sugared beverage.   Cool and crisp.
  • 2010 Bright Red – An amazing classic red blend with strong hints of dried herbs and cranberry.  It reminded me of good holidays past.
  • 2010 Grenache – Chocolate nuances abound in this rich and robust elixir.  A must for any red wine aficionado.
  • 2010 MCS – My favorite of the group.  A complex blend of Mouvedre, Carignane, and Syrah grapes.  This is a bold and brazen red that will make your head turn.  A bottle of this came home with me, and I’m saving it for a special occasion.

In addition to their retro-esque decor, another aspect I love about Municipal are the hours.   The tasting room is open from 11:00 to 6:00 daily – where as most tasting rooms close at 5:00.  And on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they stop tastings promptly at 6:00, but remain open until 11:00, transforming into a wine bar!   Wine, by either the glass or bottle, is available to drink on the premises.  Pre-made cheese plates from C’est Cheese are available if one is feeling peckish, and classic board games lie about for one’s leisure  (A very studious couple was playing chess in the corner)  Unlike my other wine adventures, I visited Municipal twice in one weekend.  I experienced the wine bar environment on Friday night, and then returned Sunday afternoon for tastings.  They also offer free local delivery to patrons who arrive on a bicycle.  The metropolitan class of Municipal Winemakers will leave you with a feeling of warmth and abundance.  I’m very much looking forward to my next visit.

Municipal Winemakers Tasting Room

22 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101

805 931-6864

Hours:  Open Daily from 11:00 – 6:00,  Wine Bar:  Thursday – Saturday 6:00 – 11:00

http://www.municipalwinemakers.com/