Changing Hands: Santa Barbara's Winehound Sold

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 12/1/15

Winehound owner Bob Wesley (photo by Bob Dickey)

The Winehound, one of Santa Barbara’s most popular wine shops, is changing hands.  Due to non-disclosure clauses, the new owner has not yet been named.  But the store’s parent company, Adams Wine Group, “is getting out of the brick-and-mortar business,” confirms owner Bob Wesley.

The Winehound was founded in 2008 and, aside from its current La Cumbre Plaza location, also occupied a storefront on the corner of Victoria and Chapala Streets, downtown, for several years.  It carries one of the city’s most comprehensive inventories of both local and international wines.  It has also topped consumer polls, including the Santa Barbara News-Press annual Readers’ Choice Awards, multiple times.

The popularity of the Winehound has hinged, in large part, on the admiration Mr. Wesley holds in Santa Barbara’s wine drinking community at large.  He developed an avid following during the 12-1/2 years he spent, before Winehound, as wine buyer at Lazy Aces Market, on the Mesa.  “That’s where I was able to build trust,” says Wesley, 56, “and to develop friendships along the way.  Steering people toward great wine has always been very satisfying.”

The wine shop's interior (Winehound photo)
Mr. Wesley, a native of Buffalo, New York, attributes his move to California in 1983 with sparking his passion for wine.  “Having this incredible bounty, and tasting these epihanal wines, was amazing,” says Wesley, who’d go on to spend several years in the restaurant industry.  In the two decades as a wine merchant in Santa Barbara, he has marveled most at the growth of the local wine industry.  “The coverage we’ve had from the pros – from Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer, Antonio Galloni – has done local wines a great service,” he says.  “But of course, if the wines weren’t exceptional, we wouldn’t even be on the map.”

Mr. Wesley expects to stay on board during the ownership transition, which should take 45 to 60 days, and then expects to be “somewhere in Santa Barbara, selling vino.”   For now, he’s focused on thinning out the Winehound’s inventory as much as possible.  When asked to recommend one standout bottle that was still in stock as of Monday afternoon, he pointed to the Marc Sorrell Le Greal Hermitage, a French syrah.  “It’s $155, and worth every penny.”

The Winehound, 3849 State Street, Suite I-163, Santa Barbara. 805-845-5247.



  1. Where and when can we expect to find Bob and Betty and the gang? They are sorely missed!

  2. Where and when can we expect to find Bob and Betty and the gang? They are sorely missed!