Perlis Picks: Wandering Dog Wine Bar

Wandering Dog Wine Bar

You might ask – why go to a wine bar in wine country? I mean, you’re already visiting wineries and tasting rooms and trying all the wine you want, right?

Well, there are good reasons, and when it is Wandering Dog Wine Bar the best reason is: not all wines are available in winery tasting rooms..

We were in Solvang for the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, and Wandering Dog was one of the sponsors, as well as the clearinghouse for customers who wanted to purchase wines that they had tasted at the festival, since these wines were available almost nowhere else. So, it seemed like a good idea to pay them a visit.

Like the Garagiste Festival, Wandering Dog specializes in wines that are hard to find. The focus is not just on the Santa Barbara County area, but mostly on the entire Central Coast, although there are also some bottles from farther away, such as Napa, France, Italy and Argentina.

Wines are available by the glass or bottle, or you can try several wines by ordering a flight. Bottles are priced at retail, so a $7 corkage fee is added to the price when you drink the bottle there, which is a far better deal than the 2X retail price [at least] that you pay at most establishments. Note that if you are a member of their wine club, there is no corkage charge and wine prices are discounted 15%.

The original “wandering dog” that the wine bar is named after refers to the family pet Mazzey, who was acquired as a rescue in 2002, and loved to visit the neighbors so much that a doggy door was installed in the fence between the two properties. The bar was opened in 2007 by Jack and Susan Williams, their son Charles and his wife Jody with the motto “leave your leash behind” to encourage all of us to try new wines and explore all the wine world has to offer, rather than to continue to just drink within our comfort zones.

As the motto would suggest, everything is done with good humor, and the last page of the menu can attest to this, with instructions such as: Flashing is not an acceptable form of payment at any time.

To go with your wine, Wandering Dog offers a great assortment of cheeses, salamis, nuts and chocolates.

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And, if you are actually tired of wine for the day, you can do what many winemakers do at the end of a long day of working in the vineyard or winery – Wandering Dog has a great beer list as well, with beers offered by the flight or bottle.

Wandering Dog Wine Bar
1539C Mission Drive
Solvang, CA 93463

(All photos credited to Wandering Dog Wine Bar.)

Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years.  He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who puts up with him. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting tasting rooms and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, Michael had the amazing good fortune to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. At the same time, in his day job he provides outsourced controller services to companies that do not need a full-time controller. One day, he hopes to be able to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at  or  (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting.

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