“Work hard, play hard and source really good fruit… it all starts from the fruit!” – Jessica Carr
By Vaughn Lowery
Since 1999, Owner/Winemaker/Sommelier Ryan Carr and wife Jessica Carr have been developing an impeccable assortment of Pinot wines – crisp, juicy and delicious. Established in downtown Santa Barbara, their main tasting room is inside of a quonset hut. If the corrugated structure doesn’t enthrall you to enter, Jessica’s warm smile and innate ability to promote her product will have you become a member of their 800+ wine club. The decor is modern yet industrial with a saloon-ish style bar with wine on tap. Adjacent is an outdoor comfy patio where you and a group of friends can soak up a session while basking in the sunshine.
Throughout the space are stacked barrels, workers fermenting grapes with monthly rotating provocative art pieces scattered throughout the walls on consignment. Everyone knows grapes love art and when the fruit is happy so is the wine.
Ryan wasn’t available for our private tasting but his presence was prevalent. During harvest, he’s out in the fields picking and sorting fruits. He and Jessica met at the University of Arizona about 20 years ago – he majored in graphic design and she in communications. It was inevitable that Ryan designed the ultra chique labels and she wrote many of their outward facing materials.
Nothing can stand in the way of their success with such an immense passion for winemaking and a strong business acumen. And, the positive reviews alongside of 90+ scores keep rolling in. Named one of Six California Wineries You Should Know About.
“Carr produces polished, authoritative Pinot Noirs from various Sta. Rita Hills vineyards.” – S.H., Wine Enthusiast
They started with only 15 people almost two decades ago; now with 2 locations and a wine management company (early September they handled the grand opening for sister brand CrossHatch Wines) – they’re invincible. Presently, they have no children, but obviously the grapes are their babies. Angel is their Rottweiler/Shepherd 2yro dog and was rescued from an overcrowded litter. Evidently, the Carrs have huge hearts and it’s known throughout the city. Everyone we encountered both inside and outside the winery respects their philanthropic endeavors. In fact, they’re always giving back to local charities.
Moreover, this eclectic outfit is host to a plethora of music events where indie rock to reggae bands showcase their talent on Friday nights from 6-8pm.
Be on the lookout this Halloween for their costume competiton where they will have a live DJ, small bites as well as spooky decorations. And if that doesn’t float your boat, you may want to check out their WOGA (wine + yoga) which is rumored to be held on their outdoor patio. Other honorable mentions include their indie pop-up market which will showcase local artisanal made goods and their 46 wine lockers – customers can store 4, 8, 16 and up to 72 cases per rental.
It’s so refreshing to come across such a winery ambiance only 82 miles from central Los Angeles. We drove up in the Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Limited Edition to add to this whimsical wine experience.
*Carr Vineyards & Winery is a small, handcrafted winery producing 4500 cases in downtown Santa Barbara. All of the wines made by Carr are sourced from Santa Barbara County vineyards and are made in a traditional winemaking style to capture the essence of the grape varietal and region. The vast microclimates of Santa Barbara County allow the winery to produce several wines including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, Grenache, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Carr Winery has two locations for guests to enjoy wine tasting, wines by the glass and wine on tap: The Barrel Room in downtown Santa Barbara and The Warehouse in Santa Ynez.