Author: Ariel Landrum
During the past few decades, Santa Barbara’s downtown has undergone a rapidly growing renaissance called Funk Zone. Old warehouses have been converted into tasting rooms, galleries, boutique shops, and cafes; tired buildings receive graffiti mural makeovers. Tourists can find this transformed district of hip located just off Highway 101, off State Street on Yanonali and Anacapa Street.
This constantly evolving neighborhood has a variety of wine-tasting rooms worth visiting. In honor of the new Alien: Covenant movie, People of Con visited Area 5.1, the sci-fi-themed tasting room created by brothers Martin and Mike Brown, the winemakers behind the cheerful Kalyra winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. As the boom of libation projects in the area grew, they knew they had to participate. The concept was born via many glasses of wine, accompanied by a conversation around the two Australian-borns receiving their green cards, providing them with “resident alien” status.
As every conspiracist knows, Area 51 is a vigilantly guarded remote military base in Arizona, where it is believed extraterrestrials are held. Thus the name (Area 5.1), with a slight change to prevent pesky government investigations. Upon entering an open space with large garage-style doors, the design is riddled with intergalactic concepts, from contemporary murals to a tiny figure of Marvin the Martian behind the bar. Vine-os are given “top secret” files that feature the names and flavors of the establishment’s themed wines.
Aside from the funky theme, Area 5.1 also provides one of the most fun assortments of varietals available in the Zone. Upon perusing our “top secret” menu, we choose an affordable mix of 5 red and white wine samplings for $12. One of the most unique blends in this universe is the 2014 Majestic 12 blend, with 50% Sangiovese, 35% Barbera, and 15% Syrah. The Majestic 12, named after the classified committee of scientists hired by the government to investigate UFOs, has harmonic notes of black cherry and cocoa powder accompanied by a subtle tannin finish.
Despite having no outdoor seating, this venue is regularly open later than the rest of the tasting rooms on the strip. Their seasonal menu tends to have bright and crisp flavors in the summer and full-bodied cuvées in the winter. The Flight Squadron, as the staff is referred to, are the most friendly and helpful guides to lead you on your intergalactic journey. They are unpretentious and never make patrons feel rushed. Wayfarers beware, due to the intimate size, the space maxes out at, wait for it – 51 guests. After catching a movie about alien spores, we recommend stopping by Area 5.1 for grape nectar that is out of this world!
Address: 137 Anacapa St Unit B Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 770-7251