Russ Winton: Wine List

November 13, 2013

Wine Line: Odd Lots and Wine Thoughts

The navigator and I recently spent a day tasting wine on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

The navigator and I recently spent a day tasting wine on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

There are more than 20 tasting rooms, all within blocks of downtown and the beach. Twelve are located in what’s called the Funk Zone. This is a former industrial area that has converted tire shops, gas stations and old surf shops into wineries and tasting rooms.

The Zone has a cool/funky vibe and includes the Santa Barbara Winery, the oldest in the county. After several stops in the Funk Zone, we walked downtown. It’s an easy walk on State Street with beautiful scenery, great restaurants, shops and more tasting rooms.

At the end of the day, we hopped on the free city shuttle that returned us to our car. It was a perfect day of wine tasting in Santa Barbara. Forget the car and walk the trail. For a cool map and more information, go to

Time for a smartphone

I have a cellphone. It has phone numbers in it. I call those numbers and talk. When it rings, I answer it. If I miss a call, I can retrieve the message. I’m happy with my low-tech mobile device.

My kids and grandkids think I should get a smartphone. I never figured out how to program a VCR, so how am I going to handle a smartphone? A techie I’m not.

But here is one reason why I just might give it a try. My son showed me a wine app called Vivino. You take a picture of a wine label with your smartphone and voila! Up comes the price, the varietal, the vintage, tasting notes, nearby retailers and friends’ comments and ratings.

You can share your thoughts or post on Facebook, Twitter or whatever. It has more than 2 million users and gets more than 10,000 downloads per day. OK, I’m getting a smartphone. Vivino is something a wine writer/geek should have.

What’s on our table

The 2011 Redwood Creek Malbec took one of the nine gold medals awarded at the 2013 Sunset International Wine Festival. Four of these wines were priced above $30 and the average price was $23. The suggested price of the Redwood Creek is $8. I found it on sale for $6.

The wine is imported from the Mendoza region of Argentina and bottled in Modesto. It is rich with a soft touch of oak and a smooth medium-long finish. This malbec is definitely case-worthy and perfect for a house red or for the upcoming holidays.

If you’re freaking out about what wine to serve for the holidays, O’Brien’s Market will hold a “turkey day recommendations” tasting. It takes place from Thursday through Sunday. The cost is $5 per person.


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