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Gillian Conway
May 2, 2016 | Gillian Conway

Oh Boston, I bring you Santa Barbara Wine

This week I’m taking a break from beautiful ocean vistas, sunny days, azure tides, and post-work beach walks in exchange for cooler weather, forecasts of rain, and post-work Sam Adam on tap.

Yes, I am leaving Santa Barbara wine country, and the Deep Sea Tasting Room to board a 6 AM flight headed East, to peddle my wares beyond the scope of the American Riviera. More specifically, I’m headed to peddle in the land of our rebellious forefathers, imposing brownstones, Paul Revere, the Green Monster, lobster rolls, top collegiate institutions, sherbet colored kakhis embroidered with cute sea creatures, and disastrous underground transportation projects. I’m headed to the birthplace of Sam Adams (brewery not revolutionary patriot) and also Harpoon Brewery, the producer of The Winter Warmer, a beer that proved the spirit of Christmas can be bottled and consumed by girls who “don’t like beer” everywhere.  Boston, here I come, and I bring thee the gift of Santa Barbara Chardonnay and Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, straight from the heart of the Sta Rita Hills and the Santa Maria Valley

What’s that? You’ve never heard of Deep Sea or Conway Family Wines? Or Santa Maria? Or Santa Ynez? Don’t worry Boston, by the time we part ways, I will have met with at least 25 influential tastemakers in your town (the guys and gals who chose the wines you see on lists when you go out to dine) and I am 100% confident that Deep Sea is going to end up on a wine list near you.

This weeks blog will be an account of my adventures selling California wine in Boston, a city that is close to my heart, for it is here that I experienced falling in love for the first time. Falling in love with wine, that is. My deep and everlasting love for all things vino began here, when I discovered how delightful a fruitbomb from Australia really could be for a young palate, new to the world of wine.

 Until the last decade, Boston was considered more of a “beer and whisky town” due I’m sure in part to its distance from US wine producing regions, the Blue Laws preventing consumers from ordering California wine online, and also the demographics of its drinking population. With over 100 colleges and universities in the Boston and the greater Boston area, the drinking scene is heavily under the influence of undergraduates.

When I arrived at Emerson College in 2003, it was a rare thing to see wine at a party, and rarer still to be the one bringing the wine. But if you took a trip in the dolorian back to my freshmen year, you’d see me with a magnum of $11.99 Yellowtail in hand, proud to be drinking this sophisticated, modern, and exotic beverage called Shiraz. People thought I was pretentious at best, uncool at worst, but in time the trend caught on, and more and more parties had wine, and more often than not in Boston, it was Yellowtail.

I give Yellowtail full credit for the millennial wine revolution in Boston as I can personally attest to having seen firsthand their guerilla marketing efforts while I was attending classes downtown. Plastered on every bathroom stall, T- station wall or entrance, park bench,  bus, and liquor store window were ads for Yellowtail. Delicious, shiny, colorful ads that spoke directly to me. Yes, I am a self-confessed Yellowtail lover. I don’t drink Yellowtail anymore, but I certainly did then, and I attribute their brilliant marketing to the capturing of more than a few college hearts back in 2003.

Since then, the foodie/wine/cocktail scene has exploded, and the bars and restaurants in the South End, downtown, backbay, and even provincial-at-times Beacon Hill offer fabulous wine lists, artisanal cocktails, and a plethora of dishes featuring pig organs. Seriously pig organs-they’re a hit.

As with other college towns, interest in wine and craft beer has replaced cheap beer and vodka sodas for many an undergrad. Which is why I am gong there, to this city I love, bringing great Deep Sea and Conway wine from Santa Barbara. I won’t be plastering any bathroom stalls with clever ads, meant to hook millenials, because in Boston, they’re already hooked. Now I just need Deep Sea to reel them in. Say tuned for more adventures this week…!


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