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