Region, a new wine bar at The Barlow in Sebastopol, is the first of its kind in Sonoma County, pouring 50 small production wines from self-serve WineStation machines and providing intimate access to winemakers in a casual setting.
The WineStations use an argon gas preservation system to keep the wines fresh for up to 60 days and dispense from a tap at the push of a button. At check-in, patrons get a tasting card, which looks a lot like a hotel key. The tasting card is then linked to the patron’s credit card and they can sip the day away. Sure, it could be a little dangerous for your wallet, but each wine is offered in a 1, 2.5, or 5 oz. pour and the machines display pricing for each wine, which range from $1 for a 1 oz. pour to a whopping $91 for a 5 oz. pour of Immortal Estate’s Impassable Cabernet Sauvignon. (Don’t worry, most 5-ouncers are priced at $15 and under.)
“We’re taking a unique approach to the wine industry and, respectfully, we want to disrupt it a little bit with this new way to experience wine,” said Region co-founder and longtime Sonoma County local Kerry Thedorf, who, along with her business partner Johan Eide, a Sebastopol native, have been working together to bring Region to life for nearly a year.
Located next door to Golden State Cider, Region partnered with 25 carefully selected producers, most of which are lesser-known boutique brands, like Frostwatch Winery, Front Porch Farm, and Thirty-Seven Wines.
“Our goal was to help the small guys that can’t afford the million-dollar tasting room or are so off the beaten path that they need help with foot traffic and getting the word out,” said Thedorf.
The wines span 14 appellations (almost exclusively Sonoma County) and while there is of course plenty of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on offer, there are also some hard-to-find grapes like Albarino, Gewurtztraminer, Semillon, and Carignane. DRNK Wines even has an orange wine, a skin-contact Pinot Gris from Bennett Valley.
Wines can also be purchased by the glass or bottle and Region has a list of nine flights on their menu. The Au Natural, for example, highlights green-conscious growers, while Sonoma Sunset features wines that fall between red and white in color.
Thedorf and Eide originally envisioned reclaimed wood and antiques for Region, but after realizing both were quite common not just in Sonoma County, but even within The Barlow, they went in another direction for the design.
The space is light and airy with neutral tones, poplar wood, and tile accents. Clean lines are everywhere and are meant to embody vineyard rows. Communal tables (set with leather bar stools) were partly constructed from wine barrel racks and there are a few couches for lounging. On theme with Region’s mission to do wine differently, there are two prints of aerial vineyard photography by Dan Quinones, which present the vineyard in a new, abstract way,
The WineStations are set up in one room and, in another, there’s a tiled bar where a winery partner sets up shop each week to hand-pour a selection of additional wines that aren’t available in the machines. These wines can be anything from current releases to older vintages and verticals. Thedorf said producers should treat it as a pop-up and can get as creative as they want during the two weeks a year they are the featured winery, hosting everything from winemaker dinners to pick-up and release parties to educational seminars. Front Porch Farm is up first for the grand opening and will be bringing their farmers market stand with them.
“We wanted to take the approach of the brewery mentality. I want that connection with the winemaker, I want to know where [the wine] is grown, I want to know all the ins and outs of it, not necessarily in traditional wine education, but easily broken down — the nuts and bolts of it,” said Thedorf, who has already seen many winemakers pop in even when it’s not their week. “It’s a breath of fresh air to have the winemakers in the space.”
For food, Region has partnered with several Barlow neighbors, who will deliver orders as they are placed. Patrons can choose from a selection of sandwiches from The Farmer’s Wife, like the Gravenstein Apple Grilled Cheese and Grass-Fed Beef Filet, or pies from Acre Pizza, like the Potato Pizza. Sushi Kosho has three kinds of poke, a Wagyu short rib, and a Bahn Mi sandwich on offer, while Fern Bar has a variety of dishes, including churros and a fried chicken sandwich.
Region’s grand opening is scheduled for July 25, but they will be open for a preview this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. In compliance with Sonoma County’s reinstated guidelines for outdoor seating only, Region has an expansive outdoor patio and Thedorf said they have set it up so that patrons will still be able to safely use the wine machines and interact with the featured winery.
180 Morris St. Ste 170, Sebastopol, drinkyourregion.com.