Our Latest Crush

A local boutique winery creates a kinder, gentler fine wine.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink
  • Written by
    Laura L. Watts
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell & Julia Lowe

It happened by accident. South Bay resident and real estate agent Grace Campbell loves to sip a glass of good wine, but time after time she found that it would cause her to feel ill … often after just a sip or two.

She decided to go directly to the source: the winemakers. Perhaps they could shed light on what was happening to her—or even produce a small batch of specialized wine for her and her husband, Thomas Campbell, a swimming pool builder-contractor and owner of TC Pools. As the couple learned more about the winemaking process, they realized it was the excessive sulfites contained in big commercial brands that were making Grace sick.

Widely used in winemaking and the food industry, sulfites have antioxidant and antibacterial properties that can maintain a wine’s freshness. However, a small percentage of the population does not have the enzymes necessary to break down sulfites and is considered sulfite-sensitive—and Grace falls into that group. She and Thomas became intrigued with the idea of producing a wine that contains minimal sulfites without sacrificing the quality of the wine or its ability to age properly.

Working with Santa Barbara winemakers, the couple developed a wine that contains lower sulfites than most commercially produced wine—and it was delicious. And with that, Monis Cellars was born.

“Our customers are enjoying our wines as much as we do.”

The winery’s name comes from Grace’s maiden name, Monis (pronounced “Mo-nees”). Their team handpicks grapes from sustainably farmed Santa Barbara vineyards and crafts the wine in small batches in order to maintain quality and minimal unnatural intervention.

“After we fell in love with our wine, we decided to share it with local restaurants,” Grace says. Monis Cellars started online sales early this year and was planning to feature wines at area businesses. The winery had appointments lined up with local restaurants in March … and then the coranavirus pandemic shut everything down.

“We had to quickly shift our focus from selling to restaurants to directly selling to consumers online,” Grace says. “Everyone might not be aware that you can purchase  amazing wine online. In fact, alcohol e-commerce in the U.S. has more than doubled, compared to last spring.”

As the wine industry has shifted to mostly internet sales during this challenging time, Monis Cellars is thriving as a boutique online winery—bringing the community quality, luxury, low-sulfite wine at affordable prices. The current collection includes four varietals, offered with free shipping to South Bay residents.

Their 2018 syrah grapes were grown at the Los Alamos Vineyard along the San Antonio Creek in Northern Santa Barbara County. This syrah was fermented with 3% viognier to create a rich, full-bodied, fruity wine with layers of black pepper and dry herbs. Try it with a steak dinner. The 2018 Nebbiolo rosé is an Italian varietal thriving here in California. Enjoy this refreshing drink with a salad. The recently released 2019 chardonnay is an elegant yet casual wine with tropical-citrus aromas. The 2019 pinot noir is complex—light enough for a casual lunch yet special enough to have with a formal dinner.

In addition, an exciting new wine is on the horizon. In August the company will harvest grapes for the 2020 rosé grenache, which will be released in 2021.

“Our customers are enjoying our wines as much as we do,” Grace shares. “It’s like you cooked a meal with so much love, and everyone at the table wants more of that feeling.”

Monis Cellars

424-235-3479  |  moniscellars.com  |  @moniscellars

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