The Station in Los Alamos
The 1926 “California Garage,” known locally as The Station, is Santa Barbara County’s 39th landmark. Beyond the property’s original pumps lies an old barroom that seats 20. (Anna Ferguson-Sparks / Stiletto Marketing photo)

James Ontiveros, farmer/winemaker and a ninth-generation Californian, and Conrad Gonzales, chef/caterer and owner of Valle Fresh, have opened a tasting room, event space and eatery in Los Alamos.

Ranchos de Ontiveros Wines and the Cisko Kid restaurant will share the space.

The venture will offer wine tasting, a wine and beer bar, and lunch and dinner service — all in an historical venue known locally as The Station and located at 346 Bell St. in Los Alamos.

The duo hosted a soft opening on Aug. 8, said Anna Ferguson-Sparks of Stiletto Marketing, who added that the business will stay low-key until its grand opening festivities during the weekend of Sept. 7.

The schedule for both wine-tasting and dining will be Thursday through Sunday, with hours to be announced soon.

The property is Santa Barbara County’s 39th landmark, the 1926 “California Garage” that retains its original gas pumps. Beyond them lies a barroom that seats 20, where Ontiveros plans to showcase his wine brands, Rancho Viñedo and Native9. He and Gonzales hope to offer pop-ups by other caterers and winemakers.

Conrad Gonzales and James Ontiveros

Chef Conrad Gonzales, left, and winemaker/farmer James Ontiveros have opened The Station as a Los Alamos destination for food and wine. (Anna Ferguson-Sparks / Stiletto Marketing photo)

The main dining room will be the restaurant for Gonzales’ new food establishment, Cisko Kid, which will feature the chef’s signature tacos, Santa Maria-style barbecue and live oak wood-fired cuisine, according to Ferguson-Sparks. It also will serve as the off-site catering base for Gonzales’ Valle Fresh catering service.

The Station’s “backyard” includes a towering stone fireplace and a stage area for live acoustic music.

“In thinking about a ‘home’ for my Santa Maria Valley wines, I wanted an authentic, physical manifestation of the history that this region holds — both for my own family and for others,” said Ontiveros, whose family roots reach back to 1781. “That is why I chose to partner with Conrad on this endeavor … he’s a fourth-generation Californian of Mexican descent, raised in Santa Barbara County, and has also chosen this area to grow his businesses.”

Ontiveros first planted Ranchos de Ontiveros Vineyard in 1997, with five pinot noir clones spread over five acres. After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he moved to Healdsburg to manage vineyards in the Russian River Valley and on the Sonoma Coast. On weekends, he returned to Santa Maria to care for his own Santa Maria Valley vineyard.

Terravant Wine Co. Changes Name to Summerland Wine Brands

Terravant Wine Co. is now known as Summerland Wine Brands.

With the recent infusion of $40 million in recapitalization funds from Raven Capital Management, along with changes to its senior management team and the addition of a Napa office, Summerland Wine Brands will continue to focus on the national marketplace with brands such as Summerland, King Chancho, Insomnia and Flavor Bomb.

“The transformation to Summerland Wine Brands is the next directive in the company’s focus on growth,” CEO Paul Griswold said.

Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation Announces New Board of Directors

The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation has installed a new board of directors, which will be led by president Jessica Gasca, partner at Story of Soil Wines.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, raises and donates funds for local organizations with an emphasis on supporting the health and well-being of vineyard and other agricultural workers and their families.

Joining returning board members Gasca, Shelby Sim, president of Visit Santa Ynez Valley, and Megan Schumer, secretary of the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, are Tymari Lore, general manager at Folded Hills, who will assume the position of vice president, Charles A.J. Fairbanks of Jackson Family Wines, who will serve as treasurer, Kali Kopley, partner at Pico and Wine Shepherd, and Chemayne Simas of Cork Supply.

Alison Laslett, CEO of Santa Barbara Vintners, and Stephen Janes, president of Santa Barbara Vintners, complete the board as ex oficio members.

Among the beneficiaries of the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation’s charitable activities are Direct Relief, People Helping People of the Santa Ynez Valley, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Allan Hancock College Viticulture and Enology Department, as well as the foundation’s scholarship program.

Presqu’ile Nominated in “Best Tasting Rooms” Poll for Second Year

Presqu’ile, the estate winery overlooking the Santa Maria Valley, has been nominated for a second year to USA Today’s National Readers Poll of the “10 Best Tasting Rooms” across the United States.

Twenty American tasting rooms are competing for the Top 10 honor. Public voting for the recognition has closed, and the Top 10 winners will be announced Aug. 23.

“Our mission at the Presqu’ile tasting room is to share our passion for the wines from Santa Maria Valley and our estate vineyard in a relaxed, elegant setting while providing world-class hospitality,” said Matt Murphy, co-founder and president.

Sunstone Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Sunstone Vineyards & Winery, one of Santa Barbara County’s first organic vineyards, will celebrate 25 vintages and the 1994 opening of its tasting room with a “Wine & Swine”-themed reception at the winery on Saturday.

Sunstone, which specializes in Bordeaux and Rhône style wines, will offer a pig roast, live 1990s music, a ceremony to honor its “alumni” winemakers and a free raffle. Tickets are $20 for wine club members and $30 general admission.

Reflecting on the winery’s growth during the past 25 years, second-generation owner/winemaker Bion Rice noted: “When our family planted the Sunstone vineyard in 1990, we knew that good wine started with caring for the land. I’m so proud that we have been able continue building upon my parents’ original vision of organic grape growing and crafting world-class wines here in the Santa Ynez Valley for such a long time.”

Halter Ranch Named Winery of the Year by CCWC

The Central Coast Wine Competition announced in July that Halter Ranch is the 2019 Winery of the Year.

The honor is the second for the Paso Robles winery; it received the same accolade in 2017.

The award was presented July 19 at the California Mid-State Fair during the Wine Industry Awards and Gold Medal Tasting.

All 10 Halter Ranch wines entered in the competition received medals. Halter Ranch was awarded five Double Gold Medals, three Gold Medals and two Silver Medals.

In its 17th year, the Central Coast Wine Competition is a collaboration of six California fairs and showcases the wine industry. Click here for more information.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via The opinions expressed are her own.