Sebastopol's industrial outdoor market, The Barlow, is getting two new tenants this month.
The 12-acre industrial outdoor market offering local shops, food and drinks will be home to a wine co-op and new restaurant even with new mandates that restrict indoor dining in restaurants and bars.
The wine bar, Region, opened July 25th next to Golden State Cider. Offering 50 different wines from Sonoma County, Region works with specific winemakers from 14 of Sonoma County's 19 appellations to make sure the wines represent the broad spectrum of the region—hence the name, says co-founder Kerry Thedorf. The wine bar has two distinct spaces, including a self-serve WineStation machine that has 50 wines that can be served in either a 1oz taste, a 2.5oz half glass, or a 5oz full glass going from full white to heavy red.
The second half of the space will act as a pop-up tasting room, where 25 wineries from around Sonoma County will have two weeks of the year in the summer and one week in the winter to to do a range of things from wine club dinners and tastings to special events. Thedorf explains that the two sides give customers the opportunity to "learn as much as you want to about wine or just hangout like you're at a brewery."
The overall experience of the two sides is to create an approachable atmosphere where it doesn't feel stuffy or too formal, but there are also lots of wine options, says Thedorf. While the WineStation space creates a fun and casual ambiance where folks can hangout and enjoy the space and each other's company, the other offers access and wine education directly with the winemakers who make the wines.
As for the restaurant, Blue Ridge Kitchen will open on July 28th. The new California-inspired spot is taking the place of Zazu Kitchen & Farm, which closed last year due to flooding. General Manager Eric Zahra describes the menu as "California comfort food with a southern drawl," utilizing local farmers to create food with a southern slant.
The menu is still being finalized, but items include southern staples like fried green tomatoes, fried shrimp po'boys, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken. There are also a few favorites from chef Matt D'Ambrosi tried, like smash burgers and ahi tuna tartare with black rice chips.
Both places had plans to utilize the industrial open space that makes The Barlow so unique. However, with the new mandates changing our dining experiences by the day they've both had to change course on how best to serve their customers.
Blue Ridge Kitchen will only have outdoor patio seating available with the 50 to 60 seats arranged to observe social distancing.
Region has rearranged the flow from the indoor bar to outdoor seating that includes a check in table. The WineMachine will only be available to pour before patrons are escorted to an outdoor seating area which occupies about 10 parking spaces.
// Open daily at The Barlow, 180 Morris St. Ste. 170 (Sebastopol), drinkyourregion.com
This article was written by Myles Bess and originally appeared on kqed.org.