Will jam for wine: bringing live music to wine country

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18c28fe4-6cb7-42fd-b11b-975b1e361781When the sun goes down in Santa Barbara’s wine country, things get pretty sleepy.

The Santa Ynez Valley is known more for Pinots and Chardonnays than a robust nightlife.

But that might be changing thanks to some interesting collaborations between artists and winemakers. Standing Sun Winery in Buellton, CA is one example. Owner John Wright was a preservation architect on the East Coast before he moved to the Santa Ynez Valley three years ago with his wife, Laura, a soap opera star, to become a full time winemaker.

He began using connections he had within the Austin, TX music scene to bring nationally touring bands to town.

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Patrick Sweany playing at Standing Sun Winery in Buellton. Photo: Candia Flynn
A label from Wright’s wine, art and music project. Artist: Felipe Molina

“He started hosting these home concerts in the winery, and getting some pretty serious bands to stop through,” said Matt Kettmann, editor at the Santa Barbara Independent and Wine Enthusiast.

They have about one show a week. Since performers could be driving by on any night, events aren’t limited to the weekends. Over 100 bands have performed so far, including Reckless Kelly from Austin, Willie Watson of Los Angeles, Nashville’s Patrick Sweany and the Stone Foxes from San Francisco.

Kettmann says more and more wineries are becoming hubs of culture, blending grapes with art, music and food.

Plus, they’re giving people who live in sleepy towns like Buellton something to do at night.

The Bodega, John Wright’s new space in Downtown Santa Barbara.

Standing Sun now has a presence in downtown Santa Barbara, too. Wright took over the old bodega below Casa de la Guerra, the residence of the fifth commandant of the Presidio de Santa Barbara, José de la Guerra y Noriega from 1828 until his death in 1858.

“It’s arguably one of the oldest wine storage rooms in the state,” said Kettmann. With a background in preservation architecture, Wright was happy to move in to the historic space.

He’s pouring a large range of wine, including bottles from a wine, art and music collaboration between Wright, Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz and artist Felipe Molina.

Matt Kettmann catches up with us every Wednesday morning and afternoon on 88.7 FM in Santa Barbara. You can hear his past segments on food and wine here.