Sashi Moorman started his winemaking career in 1996 at The Ojai Vineyard with Adam Tolmach, and saw his first urban winery soon afterward down the road in Ventura, where Manfred Krankl turned a dingy warehouse into Sine Qua Non. “Manfred took what was probably the grossest place to make wine and turned it into something cool,” says Moorman. “You were entering his world.”
Hired by the Stolpmans to run their family winery in 2001, Moorman moved the operation into the industrial park that became known as the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, where Longoria, Brewer-Clifton and Presidio Winery had already set up shop. “For me, Lompoc had a lot of advantages,” says Moorman, who’s also co-owner of Piedrasassi and Domaine de la Côte and consulting winemaker for Sandhi and Pence Ranch. Cool temperatures and high humidity make for perfect élevage, and being on a municipal utility grid is another plus. Today, dozens of labels call the Ghetto home.
Moorman insists that the urban model isn’t unique to Santa Barbara. “It’s only weird to Californians,” he says. “If you go to most of the small wine-growing regions in Europe, from Sancerre to Burgundy to the Rhône to Piedmont, all the wineries are in town. It’s the same idea.” Moorman took advantage of the centralized setup to create Provignage, which runs operations for different wineries from separate cellars in the Ghetto.