gmhTODAY Winter 2023 - Page 44

San Juan Bautista ' s 18th Barrel :

18 Barrels of Fun

Who hasn ' t been out for the night with your significant other , disagreeing on where to go for a great drink ? Let ’ s say one of you wants to sample some of South Valley ’ s finest wine at a tasting room , while the other wants to grab a few pints at a microbrewery . What to do ? Beer or wine ? Wine or beer ? by Giovanni Albanese photos by 18th Barrel

pride in . The one to the right is the spot for 18 beers on tap as well as a fridge full of canned options . Then there is a center bar top where you can sit and chill while enjoying your preferred beverage of choice . In addition to the tasting room , the 18th Barrel has a massive outdoor seating area , with a stage where musical performances happen on a weekly basis .
Enter 18th Barrel Tasting Room
If you want the best of both worlds , head to the beautiful , historic downtown San Juan Bautista to this establishment . Immediately upon entering , you ’ ll encounter three bar tops . The one to the left is where you can choose from a litany of local wineries ’ selections — something owner Monica Lopez Ramirez , a former employee at Fortino Winery , takes great
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Ramirez said that it has long been a desire of hers to run a tasting room . She and her husband , Anthony Ramirez , have operated two companies in Salinas for over 20 years — DBA Electric and DBA Alarm & Security — but finally took the plunge on their passion project in 2017 . The business is a family affair , with Ramirez taking on a full-time role ; her daughter is the manager ; her sister and niece have roles ; her husband chips in when he can ; and they have a couple of employees who are de facto family members because they have been there since the beginning , Ramirez said . Even Ramirez ’ s parents worked at the tasting room early on for a little bit .
When they found their building before opening , it was in need of serious work , being a historic building , but she relished the opportunity to make it her own . Ramirez said it looked like a bunker — an open space with pillars down the center of the now tasting room . But that didn ’ t deter her .
“ We got to start from scratch . It was nice because I was able to put all my ideas , my vision , into play ,” she said .
That vision had been simmering in Ramirez ’ s mind for “ at least 15 years ” before taking the leap .
“ It was pretty bad in here . But I loved it . I thought it was cool to put the pillars down the middle . And it gave me my vision because I ' ve always wanted to do two bars ,” she said . “ I wanted it to be separate areas . I want [ customers ] to have an experience like they ' re both places .”
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