(published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 1/30/14)
After just four months in business, one of the Funk Zone’s most high profile wineries is moving out.
Avelina Winery, which opened its doors on September 20th, closed abruptly this week. But “it’s a good thing,” owner and winemaker Christian Garvin, 39, says. “I’m taking the Avelina concept to North County,” he adds, potentially Lompoc or Buellton, where he plans to set up a winemaking facility and store under sole ownership.
|The Avelina tasting room featured a farm truck-turned-wine bar|
Avelina’s departure leaves an empty 3000-square-foot space in the Anacapa Project, the thriving downtown Santa Barbara complex that includes The Lark Restaurant, Les Marchands wine bar, Guitar Bar and a handful of brewery, winery and distillery businesses. But Garvin says a new retail business is already in line to take over “within the next 45 days.”
Avelina quickly became a trendy wine tasting venue, but it doubled as a winery. The facility filled the winery’s own production needs – it makes 9000 cases of wine a year – as well as Mr. Garvin’s other wine ventures, including making and bottling private label wines. “We got to the point where we were making too much wine for the space” he says. “There were times when 75% of the room was taken up by pallets, stacked high. Customers could barely get in. The rent didn’t justify using the space that way. That space was made for humans, not for boxes.”
While he insists he’s “happy” with the move, Mr. Garvin admits that it speaks to an adjustment in the Funk Zone persona. “Five years ago, this was an industrial space, and now it’s a retail and entertainment space,” he says. “It’s like all the artists who used to have studios here. I’m moving my studio to make room for retail.”
Mr. Garvin has been making, selling and promoting wines in Santa Barbara County since the late 1990s, when he worked at Fess Parker Winery and joined a fellow UCSB grad to found Kahn Winery. He launched Oreana Winery in the Funk Zone 10 years ago, in a former tire shop, with a similar setup to Avelina’s. “But we had a big parking lot there,” he says, which eliminated overcrowding. Mr. Garvin sold Oreana to winemaker Danny Miles last summer, ahead of Avelina’s grand opening.
Avelina will continue to focus on Santa Barbara County-grown Italian wines, including pinot grigio, sangiovese and nebbiolo.
Mr. Garvin will update the progress of his move to North County on the Avelina website.