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Uptown Funk

Follow the urban wine tasting trail in Santa Barbara's arts district

The Funk Zone isn’t just a state of mind in Santa Barbara; rather, it’s a real place—on the map. In fact, it’s the section of town between the ocean and Highway 101 that was once home to run–down industrial buildings, warehouses and fish–processing plants.

Today, it’s a thriving arts district with galleries, colorful murals, cool shops, restaurants and—this is key—wine bars and tasting rooms. So many tasting rooms have popped up in the Funk Zone that it’s become the largest part of Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail walking tour. Try wandering among these five, which offer wines made by boutique producers from across Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast, and are all situated within a few blocks of each other.  

1 Municipal Winemakers

Photo: Municipal Winemakers via Website

With a quirky gallery wall, pendant lights, file cabinets and trophies, Municipal Winemakers looks more like a Wes Anderson set than a tasting room. The decor pairs well with the bold branding and provides a pleasing background to the wines, made from the grapes of celebrated vineyards across Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast.

2 The Valley Project

Photo: Twenty20

The Valley Project’s giant chalk mural is a great visual aid for learning about Santa Barbara wine country’s varied microclimate. Owner and winemaker Seth Kunin will walk you through the region’s rich history of viticulture while ensuring that your glass stays full.  

3 Santa Barbara Wine Collective

Photo: Santa Barbara Wine Collective via Website

With five Santa Barbara County wineries and winemakers all represented under one stylish roof, the Santa Barbara Wine Collective is the county’s first and only communal tasting room. Try a Cabernet Sauvignon by Notary Public or a Pinot Noir by The Paring, for example, served by the glass, flight or bottle.

4 Riverbench

Photo: Tasting Table via Website

Riverbench, located in the heart of the Funk Zone, is known for sparkling wine produced in the southeastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley.

5 Fox Wine Co.

Photo: Tasting Table via Website

Fox Wine Co. and sister winery Blair Fox Cellars recently unveiled their renovated tasting room, complete with three tasting lists and 15 wines by the glass and bottle. While you’re there, be sure to check out the neighboring businesses in The Waterline, the former industrial warehouse where the Fox brands have set up shop, like Lama Dog Brewery and Topa Topa Brewing Company. After an afternoon of tippling, soak it all up with a visit to The Nook, a restaurant.

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