By Laurie Jervis

Solvang’s Ranch Church buys Shoestring Vineyard on Highway 246

The Ranch Church, based in Solvang, has a new outdoor site for worship and special events — Shoestring Vineyard & Winery, on which the church closed escrow in December 2020.

Shoestring is located at 800 E. Highway 246, east of Buellton.

Claire Hanssen of Berkshire Hathaway in Los Olivos was the listing agent. The purchase price was $4,995,000, according to Hanssen’s website.

According to its website, Shoestring remains open for outdoor wine tasting from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Click here for more information.

Shoestring was founded by Bill and Roswitha Craig, who bought the former equestrian property and converted a large, round horse barn into a tasting room. Bill died in 2014, and Roswitha in 2019. Bill’s son, Shawn, relocated to the Santa Ynez Valley in mid-2018 to oversee operations.

Shoestring’s current winery and tasting room are housed in the same former barn.

Additional buildings include a 4,300-square-foot storage barn, a 20-stall horse barn, a large hay barn, a storage barn and a remodeled 2,100-square-foot residence.

The property totals 60 acres, with 11 acres planted to syrah, merlot, sangiovese and pinot grigio grapes. Stretching between the buildings and the Santa Ynez River are 28 additional acres.

Two Santa Ynez Valley eateries reopen with expanded hours, menus

Two newer restaurants, one in Buellton and the other in Los Olivos, have announced new hours, staffing changes and expanded menus to coincide with Southern California’s recent return to outdoor dining. Along with other area restaurants, the two had been restricted to takeout food since early December.

Los Olivos’ Nella Kitchen & Bar, which held a soft opening in September, reopened its doors at 2860 Grand Ave. earlier this month with an expanded menu and hours. The Tavern at Zaca Creek, at 1297 Jonata Road north of Buellton, had its soft opening in August, and now has additional menu offerings and a new executive chef. 

First, The Tavern: Before the coronavirus turned the restaurant industry upside down, chef Cullen Campbell relocated to this region from Phoenix, where he had resided for several years and earned acclaim for (the now closed) Café Crudo/Bar Pesce and its sister eatery, Okra.

In 2012, Crudo was named “Best New Restaurant” by Phoenix Magazine, and in 2013, Cullen was invited to cook for guests at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City; also that year, he was named Chef of the Year by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame. 

At The Tavern in Buellton, Cullen hopes to showcase both his old-world French and Italian influences, and focus on signature dishes such as crispy duck with crêpes, date duck sauce and pickled mustard seeds; or beef heart tartare with shallot vinaigrette, golden raisins and celery salad. He looks forward to inspiration by wines sourced from the vineyards that surround the restaurant in the greater Santa Ynez Valley.

Cullen’s spring menus at The Tavern at Zaca Creek launched this month.

The Zaca Creek property figures into Buellton’s history, with lineage dating back to the community’s founding. The site, originally a tavern and restaurant built by Jim Buell (as in “Buell-ton”), has been resurrected after nearly 20 years of dormancy. The historic Buellton property includes six boutique inn suites, also now open.

Stephen Villa, Zaca Creek’s general manager and wine director, is a Santa Barbara County native and has spent more than 14 years in the region’s cellars and vineyards.

Also new at The Tavern is a happy hour menu, available from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, as well as Sunday brunch service from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Later this year, Zaca Creek plans to open a second dining option, The Treehouse, an open-air deck and outdoor kitchen that encircles a grand oak tree. All-day dining items will be paired with lively cocktails.

For more information and reservations, call 805.688.2412 or email

In Los Olivos, Nella Kitchen & Bar reopened on Feb. 11 for outdoor dining and takeout orders. The venue, inside the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn, shares a hospitality team with S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez. Nella opened last September, and its reopening will include an all-day dining menu for both lunch and dinner in its spacious outdoor dining space.

Restaurant hours are from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Monday; the bar is open from noon to 10 p.m. those same days. Nella is closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Executive chef/owner Luca Crestanelli leads the team at Nella, which features all-day dining, including bar snacks; starters and salads; meat, fish and shellfish entrees; and Roman pinsas with seasonal toppings.

Nella Kitchen & Bar is part of the Toscana Restaurant Group, which includes Los Angeles’ Toscana and Bar Toscana, Nerano and BG Lounge in Beverly Hills and Santa Ynez’ S.Y. Kitchen.

To reach the restaurant, click here, call 805.686.1359 or follow @nellakitchenbar on Instagram.