New Vintage: Oreana Winery Founder Switches Gears with New "Avelina" Brand

By Gabe Saglie
(Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on September 12, 2013)
 
The final touches are now going up at the tasting room for the brand new Avelina Winery in downtown Santa Barbara.  But nostalgic touches still prevail.  Like the old typewriter on the corner, which guests will use to join the mailing list.  And the sparkling jukebox by the front door, which feeds on quarters.  And the old 1959 GMC farm truck parked in the middle of the room, encircled by stools and its bed covered by wooden doors to create a no-frills, but very cool, wine bar.
 
Avelina's farm truck-turned-wine bar
Avelina is the brainchild of Christian Garvin, best known (until now) for Oreana, the Funk Zone winery that’s been drawing patrons as much with its wines as with its quirky events for almost a decade now.  Oreana changed hands about two months ago, when Garvin sold it to his friend and to his winemaker for the last eight years, Danny Miles.  The new proprietor will move forward with a brand that features pinot noir, syrah, chardonnay and a handful of affordably priced blends.

Garvin, himself, is now fully focused on Avelina.  He was ready for something new, he tells me.  A new creative outlet.

And although Avelina is brand new, it smacks of something nostalgic for its owner, too.  Avelina references Garvin’s Italian roots, for one.  “It’s a town so small, you can’t really find it on a map,” he says with a laugh.  It’s also a name Garvin used more than a dozen years ago on his first independent wine project – Kahn Winery – to denote a line of red wines.  “I bought the trademarked name back for $350,” he says.

The premiere release of Avelina wines – a 4000-case project with a focus on Italian varieties – includes a pinot grigio, sangiovese and freisa.  Its crowning jewel, though, may be a 2010 nebbiolo, sourced from the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley.  It’s supple, smooth and generous with its fruit flavors.  All the Avelina wines will sell for $25 in the tasting room.

This project also includes a second label – Sands Point – which features non-Italian wines like chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.  The price point on these is affordable by design – $15 a bottle, and probably less when it hits supermarket shelves – and will be available to taste at the winery, too.

Garvin made the first batch of Avelina wines at the Lucas & Lewellen Winery facility in Buellton.  But his downtown Santa Barbara space will feature all the winemaking equipment he’ll need moving forward.  Already, some gear, like fermentation eggs and a fruit crusher, grace the sleek, slip-resistant concrete floor.


Jen Gonzalez joins the Avelina mailing list
Avelina’s new home is in the heart of the humming Funk Zone.  Across the street, actually, from Oreana, and flanked by the new Figueroa Mountain Brewery tasting room and the railroad tracks.  It’s in the same building as Santa Barbara’s brand new and most buzzed-about eatery, The Lark, in a space formerly used to process fresh fish.

Aside from the production of wines, Garvin’s vision for his new space hinges on tapping into the Funk Zone’s still-ballooning appeal: a social spot, a watering hole of sorts, with an outdoor courtyard and a spacious interior that will also be marketed for private events.  “We’ll have a large movie screen here,” he says, pointing to the ceiling above stacks of sealed cases, “and we’re getting a digital projector delivered for movie nights.”
 
Those who know Garvin probably expect neat things to come, including unique events and memorable promotions.  The 39-year-old, after all, is as much a winemaker as an entrepreneur, with a knack for drawing crowds to wine not merely for the sake of sipping but, instead, to let the good times roll.

Avelina is the newest member of Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail (which now boasts 26 member wineries!) and is located 131 Anacapa Street.  Its grand opening party is Friday, September 20th.  For details, call the winery at 770-7210.

1 comment:


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