Once I first visited Guadalupe — getting misplaced within the dunes, consuming sopes at El Tapatio, appreciating the colourful structure, studying about its multiethnic historical past — I used to be smitten and vowed to return repeatedly. Greater than 20 years later, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve solely been again a handful of occasions, not often discovering a go to handy, on condition that the distant metropolis within the northwestern nook of Santa Barbara County sits to date off of 101.
In the meantime, I’ve watched Guadalupe endure years of heartache. It was one of many few cities in California to almost go bankrupt (it didn’t), then the primary in 40 years suggested to dissolve (it didn’t), and even misplaced its major landmark, the Far Western Tavern. That restaurant moved to Orcutt in 2012 due, partially, to the prices required to retrofit the outdated brick constructing. These costly earthquake-safety necessities scared off new companies from investing as nicely, so I used to be left considering that Guadalupe’s considerably subdued establishment would go on perpetually.
I’m pleased to report that I used to be mistaken. I lastly made it again to Guadalupe earlier this 12 months, and located a way more vibrant downtown strip than I bear in mind. It nonetheless confirmed the allure of a sleepy Mexican farming pueblo — which is smart, given the inhabitants is almost 90 p.c Latinx, most employed in agriculture — however there was palpable power and shiny coats of paint to the mercados and taquerias alongside Cabrillo Freeway.
Within the midst of all of it sits Guadalupe Social Membership, a wine bar, informal eatery, and occasion house that instantly turned a group hub upon opening in February. Attracting a mixture of longtime Latinx residents who’re more and more serious about wine, retirees who reside up the coast in Nipomo’s Monarch Dunes improvement, and the latest inflow of middle-class households who purchased houses within the Pasadero subdivision, the Membership comes at a prescient time. Because the close by Royal Theater — opened in 1939, closed since 1989 — undergoes a $5 million renovation, Guadalupe’s star is decidedly on the rise, with various considering that it might be the subsequent Los Alamos.
“We needed a spot the place you possibly can drink wine, eat good meals, and have a protected place to your youngsters,” defined Brooks Van Wingerden, who bought the constructing along with her husband in 2021 and based the Membership along with her subsequent door neighbor in Arroyo Grande, Lexie Bell. Each are mothers of three younger youngsters, and acutely appreciated that parental want for having enjoyable, however with ample fencing. Others craved that too, stated Bell, confirming, “They’ve charged in.”
Wine, meals, video games plus comfortable seating are the important thing components of Guadalupe Social Membership’s century-old constructing. | Credit score: Courtesy
The method — wine, meals, video games, occasional leisure, and many others. — seems easy, however the story behind the wines they pour is something however. Since 2010, Van Wingerden has managed the day-to-day enterprise operations for Margerum Wine Firm, from Santa Barbara to Buellton and past. As she embraced parenthood, she developed her job to construct initiatives that expanded the model’s attain past the high-touch, small-batch bottlings which are Doug Margerum’s major concern.
That led to negociant labels comparable to Valle de Inez, Riviera Wine Firm, and Diseños de California, that are affordably priced and bought by bigger retailers throughout the nation. However the Guadalupe Social Membership is their solely direct-to-consumer outlet. “There’s no different place the place you may style these wines,” stated Van Wingerden. A flight is $15, glasses vary from $10 to $12, bottles are $30 to $40, and there’s the occasional providing from small manufacturers, like Ann Albert or Soul, that don’t have their very own tasting rooms. There’s additionally beer, laborious seltzer, and non-alcoholic choices like apple cider and glowing water.
The meals service is very similar to what you discover at Margerum’s Santa Barbara tasting room: intensive snacks, cheese, and charcuterie, plus paninis and flatbreads. They’re aimed to share whereas tossing cornhole or bocce, enjoying a board recreation, or chasing your youngsters across the expansive yard, which appears to be like out over the dusty finish of the Santa Maria River and towards the mountains above San Luis Bay. That malleable out of doors house — greater than half-an-acre of what was beforehand a junkyard — might show to be the Membership’s high asset, capable of host meals vans, reside concert events, and even substantial festivals in the future. (Greater than 500 folks loved the grand opening, for example.)
The century-old constructing — retrofitted earlier than the Van Wingerdens purchased it, then designed by Bell — is cut up down the center into two lengthy rooms, permitting ample house for overflow when the principle room will get busy and the chance to host non-public events with out closing out the general public. The Membership throws its personal occasions as nicely, like flower-arranging courses, mother-daughter teas, trivia night time, and wine tastings, typically that includes visiting winemakers. Upcoming are a trivia night time on July 20, Mestizo live performance on July 29, progressive tasting on August 3, and winemaker night time with Doug Margerum on September 7.
If the hour-plus drive from Santa Barbara appears daunting — extra in order that drive residence, after all — think about the practice, which leaves State Road simply earlier than 10 a.m., will get to Guadalupe earlier than midday, after which will get you again by 8 p.m. “It’s a terrific summer season day journey, “ stated Van Wingerden, who suggests lunch at El Tapatio or La Simpatia and a tour of the Dunes Heart earlier than settling in at her Membership. “Then you may take pizzas from us or Two Guys Pizza to go on the practice together with a bottle of wine and also you’re set to your sundown journey residence.”
Margerum is very pleased with his longtime collaborator, and bullish on the potential for Guadalupe. “It is going to growth,” stated Margerum, who was readily available to share his wines throughout my go to. “Historical past will reward you for opening this and being the catalyst.”
In fact, not everybody needs Guadalupe to turn into the subsequent Los Alamos, as even well-meaning gentrification of the culinary and cultural type typically uproots those that’ve lived there longest. We’re in all probability just a few years away from that time, so hopefully strategic planning can be sure that everybody retains their place at Guadalupe’s desk. I’ll absolutely be again to take my seat sometime quickly. I promise.
Guadalupe Social Membership, 945 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe; 805-356-6018; guadalupesocialclub.com