“It should feel like a good friend’s house,” Danielle Ogaz said of Wine Therapy, her new bar on State Street.
As she excitedly poured me a taste of her go-to rosé, gushed about compelling conversations with winemaker Louis Lucas, and set out complimentary popcorn for visitors, it certainly felt as though I could curl up in one of their lush beanbag chairs for a full-on slumber party.
“For me, wine is about people and stories,” she said, “so it’s been my pleasure to get to know winemakers and the people who come in here.”
Ogaz honed her personality during nine years working at Starbucks, where she admired their respect for their coffee, customers, and employees. “That’s a lot of what inspired me here,” said Ogaz, who majored in French and then lived in the South of France, where she fell in love with the Provençal-style rosé. Upon returning to the States, she worked in retail, coffee, and dentistry but held onto her dream of opening a wine bar. With the encouragement of friends, who said she was “born to have a wine bar,” Ogaz teamed with business partner and carpenter Neil Schmidt to open Wine Therapy in July on the 700 block of State Street.
“I tried to pick wine that I thought either had a good story or was local and delicious,” said Ogaz of her list, which includes a wide range of Central Coast red, white, pink, and bubbles, including favorites like the Stolpman sauvignon blanc and Fableist pinot noir. Her favorite wind-down wine is Halter Ranch’s rosé of grenache, picpoul blanc, syrah, and mourvèdre. There’s also refreshing sangria packed with farmers’ market fruit, and the beer selection features Captain Fatty’s and M.Special, among others. In the near future, Ogaz hopes to feature food options and live music on their mountain-facing patio and will keep adding to the already impressive board game collection, which includes a custom-built chess board and checkers table.
“This place feels like home to me, and I’m hoping that it feels like home to others,” said Ogaz, who decorated the inviting space with furniture she purchased secondhand or built with Schmidt. “This is the place for people to go when they want to have something after dinner that isn’t a ‘bar bar.’ It’s a little more mellow; we have games you can play; it’s great for big groups. This is a place where it’s easy to connect with people.”
(732 State Street, (805) 637-7492, santabarbarawinetherapy.com)