San Jose Mercury News- Sebastopol’s Barlow: Five ways to Eat, Drink, Play

The tasting room awaits customers at Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

17 Feb San Jose Mercury News- Sebastopol’s Barlow: Five ways to Eat, Drink, Play

In just 18 months, The Barlow, an upscale food and wine playground in the heart of Sebastopol, has become home to 38 artists, food purveyors, winemakers, distillers and brewers — and a destination for locals and tourists alike.

A mix of renovated warehouses and new, farm-style steel barns — a nod to Sonoma County’s agrarian roots — is spread out over 12.5 acres, along with patios, a garden and edible landscaping. The campus is abuzz with activity seven days a week.

 You can sip wine, sample spirits and peek at the colorful sculptures by Sebastopol junk artist Patrick Amiot. The air is filled with the aroma of fresh-baked bread and roasted coffee beans. And there’s more to come later this year, with the opening of Cinco Sabor Mexicano, a farm-to-table eatery with cocktails crafted from organic infusions; a Mad Mod Shop, with vintage-inspired fashions; and a 60-room boutique hotel opening in the summer of 2016.
 At first glance, The Barlow may seem like just another food hall and marketplace, but it’s a working production facility with a strong locavore ethic. Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu Kitchen + Farm call The Barlow “a neighborhood of makers.”
“Everyone is crazy passionate about what they make,” Estes says. “It’s a way to buy direct from the source and see how it’s made.”
 “The Barlow is all about stories,” says Andrea Kenner, who owns the Tamarind boutique, where she champions local and global textile artists. “We attract people who want to know more details about how something is made, and then they have a story to tell about their experience.”
 There’s a strong sense of community, too, as purveyors incorporate their neighbors’ goods into their own menus and wares.
So park your car, walk around and plan on spending the day. Here are five ways to experience The Barlow.

DRINK: SPIRIT WORKS DISTILLERY

The vibe: Small-batch handcrafted spirits are the specialty at this micro-distillery, where owners Timo and Ashby Marshall distill gin, sloe gin, vodka, rye and wheat whiskey and a barrel-aged gin. Timo Marshall uses his family’s generations-old sloe gin recipe, which calls for steeping sloe berries — a relative of plums — in gin. No additives or syrups here. His sloe gin is a vibrant cranberry red and infused with citrus, cranberry and red plum flavors.

Take an hourlong tour ($20) at 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Visitors will explore the path from milling distillation in one of the giant copper stills, then taste their way through all the spirits.

The dish: Sample the artisan gin, whiskey and vodka at the tasting bar ($8 for three tastes, or $15 for all five spirits), including the gin made from botanicals grown by the Marshalls. Don’t miss the barrel gin made from California red winter wheat and aged in American oak.

The details: Open Thursday-Sunday; 6790 McKinley St., No. 100

See the story in San Jose Mercury News here

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