Cocktail Corner: Potek Winery Launches in The Mill

Potek Winery opens Aug. 20 at The Mill (Haley and Laguna Streets). Photo by Cara Robbins.

Potek Winery opens Aug. 20 at The Mill (Haley and Laguna Streets). Photo by Cara Robbins.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

It seems rather fitting that Dave Potter‘s new wine venture, Potek Winery, is the first of several farm-to-table ventures launching in The Mill. If you haven’t heard about Darrell and Kirsten Becker‘s cool new project, trust me, you will! Located at the corner of Laguna and Haley streets, The Mill is a stunning modern spin on The Feed Mill originally constructed in 1904 by the Boykin family and now converted into a very unique artisan marketplace with onsite manufacturing.

I predict both locals and visitors will flock to this cool, new mixed-use venue, which will eventually feature a production winery and tasting bar (that’s Potek), a craft brewery and tap room (Third Window Brewery), specialty restaurant (from Justin and Emma West of Julienne) and event center—all connected by a beautiful and practical shared-space, tree-shaded courtyard. The Mill is also home to creative businesses Becker Studios Design/Construction, Pelago and AB Design Studio.

Potter—who is best known as the affable winemaker and proprietor of Municipal Winemakers in the Funk Zone—began handcrafting wines for the Potek label in 2012. “The whole principal behind Muni Wine was to be as approachable as possible, accessible to anyone,” Potter told me when we chatted at Potek last month.

Potek is more serious, upscale venture, “focused on tiny bottlings from individual ranches.” The new winery is founded on a commitment to produce the best possible wines from Santa Barbara’s world-class vineyards, rooted in traditional techniques with a reverence for site.

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

The first five releases include:

2013 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir, $60

“Making wine from Sanford & Benedict is a privilege,” says Potter.   “The fruit for this wine is from the original 1971 own-rooted plantings—the genesis of Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. This vineyard has been tended from the start with love and care, resulting in vines that produce wines of amazing complexity and striking purity.”

2013 Rancho La Vina Pinot Noir, $50

Potter says, “2013 Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina is laced with spice, dark plum and menthol, all of which blossoms in the glass effortlessly. Savory and floral notes are just beginning to develop in what looks to be a hugely promising Pinot to drink over the next several years.”

2012 Tierra Alta Syrah, $45

“Iron, smoke, tobacco, black olives, cedar and black cherries meld together in the 2012 Syrah Tierra Alta,” says Potter. ” It’s rich and explosive through to the finish. The 2012 boasts terrific depth and density in a meaty, full- bodied style.   This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered in April of 2014.”

2012 Tierra Alta Grenache, $40

Potter says this wine, “boasts notable depth, but the inclusion of the whole clusters adds an attractive element of lift to balance the richness and fruit. 2012 is hugely varietal, but the flavors and textures are all amped up—kirsch, spice-box, cured meats and dried licorice-like qualities.”

2013 Kick on Ranch Riesling, $30

“Kick On Ranch is, in my opinion, the top Riesling site in Santa Barbara County,” says Potter.  “We bottled 94 cases and are releasing the wine after a year of bottle aging. Riesling wines from this ranch tend to stay really primary until about one year of bottle age. At this point, they begin to develop those curiously tasty, mineral and kerosene characters unique to the varietal. Green apples, sage and a hint of spice are all present and nicely compliment that fascinating mineral character specific to Riesling. Above all else, this is a wine that speaks of texture; it is crisp, fresh and steely, while simultaneously creamy, supple and generous.”

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potter explains that the origin of the name Potek is from his great grandfather, who immigrated from Romania to the United States with the name Berl Potek, which was changed to Benjamin Potter, as he passed through Ellis Island in 1917. Potek’s bravery to search for a better life, and the immigrants’ experience of adaptation in a new environment inspires his great grandson’s approach to winemaking with traditional French techniques and grapes, grown in California.

“I could not be more excited about my first release of Potek wines. The bottlings are from vineyard sites that I have been working with for years, and represent what I feel to be some of the strongest expressions of these special places in Santa Barbara County,” says Potter.

The wines are available for sale online now, and the winery, at 406 E. Haley St., will be open to the general public starting Aug. 20. For more information, visit or call 805/598 1896.Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 14, 2015.