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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 9:30 pm | Fair 46º


The Wine Future(s) of Santa Barbara Are Cultivating a Comeback

Filling the void left by the Wine Cask's demise, wineries and restaurants are uncorking a new vintage of samples and sales

For years, the Santa Barbara Wine Futures was the trifecta of wine: you tasted great wines, got a deep discount on your purchase and had access to small production lots that rarely made it into general circulation. The discount came because you bought the wine for later delivery; essentially financing the winemaker’s inventory. The great wines and small production lots came through the diligence of Wine Cask owner Doug Margerum.

As vineyard manager <i>and</i> winemaker, David Corey can talk about his Core business from ground to glass.” width=“310” height=“407” /><div class=As vineyard manager and winemaker, David Corey can talk about his Core business from ground to glass. (Bob Dickey photo)

When Margerum owned the Wine Cask Restaurant & Wine Shop, 813 Anacapa St., it was the center of the local futures scene. Every year he would visit local wineries, tasting not-yet-bottled wine from barrels and tanks. From those, he would choose about 50 wineries and about 100 to 130 wines to highlight at the annual Futures Tasting each March and April. A description of each of those wines was published in a catalog that was one of the best wine reads of the year. You almost had to have a glass of wine by your side while reading, as you vicariously tasted each wine.

Margerum sold the Wine Cask and the tradition continued with the new owner. But in February the Wine Cask abruptly closed and people are now talking about the futures void.

Fortunately, some alternatives have stepped up to the challenge. The Winehound is picking up part of the slack with a Futures tasting from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 9 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Fleischmann Auditorium. Somewhat fewer wines, but all ones you’d want to try. (And, honestly, no one could taste all the wines at the Wine Cask event.) Elements Restaurant is hosting its second futures tasting from 7:30 to 9 p.m. April 25 at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. This is a bit fancier, given its location and time. Fewer wines, but a wonderful night in a richly Santa Barbara setting.

Individual wineries are also offering futures, some with tastings, some discounting prices for a limited time. One of the best just hosted a three-day futures event at its winery: Core.

This was what futures tasting should be. Winemaker David Corey was there to talk about the wine while he poured. He’s vineyard manager and winemaker wrapped into one, so he can truly respond to all questions; from ground to glass. Corey also makes wine under other labels than Core: Kuyam, C3 and Turchi, each of which has a special niche. So although it was all one winemaker, the wines covered a wide range of varietals and blends. Corey initially was going to have four wines at the Wine Cask event — a testament to his quality, since wineries were usually only allowed to pour two or three — but he expanded to 14 for this event, having some from each of the labels.

This event is over, alas. But be on the lookout for more during the next few months as winemakers figure out ways to offer futures to fill the Wine Cask void. Core, in fact, may combine with a few other wineries in the fall to offer an even broader opportunity to create your own trifecta.

Noozhawk contributor Bob Dickey is a local photojournalist with Wine & Dine magazine. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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