Published March 3, 2014

The movement from stately and regal winery names like Chateau this and that Estate toward a younger and more unconventional naming convention is refreshing. You can assume you’re getting wines from someone who thinks outside the box or has a next generation attitude when the name sounds more like a band than a winery. When you support labels like Gnarly Head, Vintage Cowboy, or Witching Stick, you’re supporting this movement and the same kind of free thinking that founded our country.

You can tell by the name that the “Funk Zone” of Santa Barbara represents a revitalizing change in the way we taste wine. Area 5.1 may not get its grapes from a remote air force base in south Nevada, but it is pouring wines from 5 different winemakers in a light industrial hood transformed from an art district. Their wines are also unique fusions of different characteristics. An interesting white of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Albarino is thick and rich like banana yet light and crisp like citrus all at the same time. Their Cabernet Sauvignon from Happy Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County shows off how refreshingly earthy this king of grapes can be when grown outside of the renowned Napa Valley. Amazingly silky tannins give way to plump dark cherry fruit with a herbal hint of eucalyptus and cedar. Taste this cab side by side with another from an iconic region like Napa to understand how versatile this grape is and pinpoint the potential of terroir.


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