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Sort This Out Cellars: Daring To Be Different
Every winery wants to stand out from the competition. For Sort This Out Cellars, even the name tells you this is going to be a different experience. In an attempt to avoid the “corporate homogenization of consumer culture,” as owner and winemaker Michael Cobb puts it, he has created a unique and expressive wine tasting room in Solvang. And, the wines here are different too, including their Elvira line of wines. Yes Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, has her very own “Macabrenet,” a full-bodied, blood-red Cabernet Sauvignon sporting Elvira in a seductive pose in front of a spider web. Sort This Out Cellars is handcrafting and distributing a full line of California-based wines for Elvira beginning with a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. But it’s not mere gimmickry. Elvira works closely with Cobb and is involved with all aspects of the winemaking process, including the selection of the grapes, blending decisions, art direction and even marketing. “The only thing I’m not doing is stomping the grapes,” Elvira says.
“Currently, the wine is available through our website and tasting room and a few retailers in Ojai and Los Angeles,” Cobb says. “In addition to the wine we also just rolled out a line of vintage soda pop for her. We’ve been doing the soda ourselves for about a year now with World War II era pin up girls on them.” And the Elvira soda names reflect a sense of play with labels like, “Lemon sLime” and “Silent sCream Soda.”
The recently released Casino Vineyard Rhône is a blend featuring artwork by Fullerton, California tattoo artist Robert Adams. “It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on our lack of vineyard type labels and the fact that we love Las Vegas,” Cobb says. He has also released Vino Nostra, a tip of the hat to the Prohibition-era with wine that reminds us that government restrictions are still a real issue. For more than thirteen years the wine industry was effectively shut down by Prohibition. “We honor the spirit of the underground vintners who carried forward the tradition of American winemaking during the darkest hours of Prohibition,” Cobb writes on his blog.
Clearly there is a diversity of wine to be had at Sort This Out, from Merlot to Syrah to Viognier and Chardonnay, nothing is off limits. And the concept is also different in that Cobb does not own any vineyards. “I tried to take all that I felt was wrong with wineries and turn that around,” he says. And clearly he has hit on something.
There is an enduring allure with wines and wineries that celebrate a specific sense of time in our collective history. Sort This Out has created an homage to Las Vegas, a pin-up 1950s era sensibility. This is clearly evidenced in the tasting room, all decked out in chrome and red leather, a fun, funky and hip place to be. “Our tasting room is definitely different than anything else in Solvang,” Cobb says. They are also the latest tasting room open in town. Friday and Saturday nights they offer live music which gives both locals and tourists something to do when sleepy Solvang rolls up the streets at dark. “Our vibe is different, our hours are different, our outlook on wine tasting differs, and we just want people to have fun with the wine tasting experience,” Cobb says.
Sort This Out Cellars is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tasting fees are $5 to $15. Contact them at (805) 688-1717 or www.sortthisoutcellars.com.
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