Having grown up in the valley, walking in Solvang was one of my first independent adventures as a kid. Now as an adult, I truly love walking these streets, especially in the evening, and especially around the holidays. In fact it is these walks through Solvang that brought me to Sevtap tasting room, my now husband (que the awws) and into the wine industry.
I met Art after having passed by his original tasting room many times. It always caught my eye as it was a ‘hole in the wall’ type space, and covered wall to wall in chalk writing from customers that had visited, well before chalk paint was a household staple. It was charming and offbeat, and I assumed it was some large winery, I assumed all wineries were then.
Sevtap winery is not large, he produces around 2500 cases, and his path into the wine industry was not easy, but I have never met someone with more passion or determination to make things happen
Art set out from the start to make great wine, a goal he has reached with his wines receiving points in the high 80s to mid 90s from Wine Enthusiast, as well as receiving California’s Winery of the Year award by Caltravel in 2015.
Art will continue to pursue perfection, always studying and learning new techniques, and currently studying for his level II Sommelier certification.
Art did not grow up in the wine business. He moved to Santa Barbara from Istanbul in his 20s, no family or friends here, just himself and his dreams for his life ahead. Life and career opportunities took him to Louisiana, where he ended up finding his passion for cooking, and actually trained as a line cook for Emeril Lagasse in his restaurant NOLA. Though he loved New Orleans, he knew he wanted to be back in Santa Barbara so he made it happen and got work as a cook at Pierre Lafond in Montecito. It didn’t take much to pique his interest in wine, being in that environment, and that’s when his desire and determination set him on his wine journey.
He picked up all sorts of jobs for winemakers around the valley, learning the ropes and quickly becoming a winemaker himself. He also drove wine tours to learn more about the valley and its terroir, it’s vineyards and fellow winemakers.
Through his exploration of the valley he decided that Bordeaux style wine was for him. He loved the bold flavors these grapes offer, and found it less common for the area. Due to the heat these varietals enjoy, he began sourcing grapes from vineyards in Happy Canyon AVA, and Sevtap Winery was born.
He found a quaint space, about 100sq ft., for a tasting room at the end of Copenhagen. He had some foot traffic, but several of his clients came from people he met while driving a cab at night to supplement income while making his wine dream happen. Soon he expanded by knocking down the wall to the unit behind, his small space quadrupled in size, he painted the walls black and put out chalk for the customers. For years he had customers coming back looking if their signature or picture was still on the wall, often it was. He had created a space where people felt at home, and would return time after time to catch up and have a glass of great wine with the winemaker himself.
This was the space Art started his wine business. It’s the space we met, the apartment above is where we brought home both our children, and it is where one of our customers told us of the opportunity to move our business to the blue windmill where it is today. To say Art has come a long way from that tiny 100sq. ft. tasting room would be an understatement.
At the windmill people can enjoy a tasting or a glass on the outdoor patio in the back, cozied up next to one of the fire pits, or sit at the bar and still catch up with the winemaker himself. During these cold winter months you can also enjoy a warm glass of Glogg, a delicious spiced wine.
So if you find yourself wandering the beautiful streets of Solvang, stop in at Sevtap, in the blue windmill, and enjoy a glass of wine and some good company.