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The Barlow Market District in Sebastopol: Everything You Need to Know

The Barlow Market District in Sebastopol: Everything You Need to Know

By Published On: July 20th, 2022

The Barlow boasts four city blocks with 40 artisan producers!

The Barlow, located in downtown Sebastopol, is an outdoor market district at the gateway to Sonoma County wine country.

Chefs, vintners and artisans work side-by-side to create local products and experiences found only here. It is home to a passionate community of makers and merchants, where guests can find artisans selling their goods to customers while the production process happens in real-time behind them!

This unique interactive transparency brings The Barlow to life, and allows guests to see talented makers in action. 

The rich industrial architecture, paired with the all organic, edible landscape make The Barlow a unique community.

The walkable, family-friendly and dog-friendly campus is full of opportunities for guests: lounge and play on the village green; attend a festive public event; indulge in sunshine on the patio of one of their esteemed restaurants; even sample a flight of beer or cider alongside a beautifully curated cheese and fruit plate using only the best local ingredients.

At The Barlow, there truly is something for everyone.

Must-Stop Spots at The Barlow

BLUE RIDGE KITCHEN: a farmhouse style wood grill and cocktail bar, “California comfort food with a Southern drawl.” Designed for family style sharing, the menu is made up of large and small plates with a southern flair.

Blue Ridge Kitchen delivers the level of creativity and quality you would expect from a fine dining establishment, but with the approachability and comfort of a neighborhood staple. They also have a beautiful event space available for bookings for corporate events, rehearsal dinners, weddings, and more!

The Barlow Market District in Sebastopol: Everything You Need to Know
Blue Ridge Kitchen

DICKINSON GLASS: a handcrafted glass line by local glass artist and designer, Michael Dickinson. With each glass made by hand from his studio and showroom, he honors traditional venetian techniques while incorporating contemporary scientific approaches.

His current body of work is a collection of time spent sculpting, manipulating, and shaping primarily hollow forms and sculpture. Leading workshops around the Bay Area, he strives to connect maker and consumer, highlighting the importance of the tradition of craft through education and relationships.

Michael also offers Wedding & Special event Services, Corporate Gifts and Classes! 

FERN BAR: Fern Bar as a concept began several years ago when a group of Sebastopol natives had an idea to open up a cocktail bar.

Along with head chef Joe Zobel, a kitchen veteran whose career began at restaurants in San Francisco, the team imagined a bar and restaurant filled with live music, interesting cocktails, delicious food, and jovial conversation. Sam Levy, the former bar manager of 3 Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, joined the team with his extensive cocktail experience and as a veteran of the fine-dining scene in the Bay Area.

The restaurant opened in 2018 within the community that inspired it form the start, and has since been awarded Best Cocktail of the Year and Best Bar of the Year by locals, 4 years running! 

The Barlow Market District in Sebastopol: Everything You Need to Know
The Barlow. Photo Courtesy: Dawn Heumann.

GOLDEN STATE CIDER: Golden State Cider was founded on Devoto Orchards in Sebastopol, CA.

The dry heirloom, dry farmed apples being grown were already sold at local farmers markets, and cider was a new way for buyers to enjoy them. The first ciders they made were from 100% fresh-pressed juice, elevating apples as a fruit while celebrating the local terroir.

As the company has grown, these principles continue to lead the way. Golden State Cider’s goal is to keep apple trees in the ground, and with that main ethos came the idea to produce high-quality craft cider that highlights the regions where the apples are from. They want to celebrate the rich heritage and apple diversity across the west coast by continuing to use 100% fresh pressed west coast apple juice.

To fulfill this mission, they plan to grow as California’s largest apple purchaser in the category. They continue to collaborate with generation-old apple orchards and farmers from premier growing regions throughout the state, to create authentic orchard-to-can experiences that pay homage to the unique terroir and apple varietals of each specific orchard.

Their taproom on-site at The Barlow offers 12 cidery taps, each with something unique (and usually something seasonal) to share with guests. + a number of events, including live music.

The Barlow Market District in Sebastopol: Everything You Need to Know
The Barlow. Photo Courtesy: Martha Cromar.

IL FUSTI: provides locally grown olive oil, all of which is sourced from their estate orchard in Sebastopol, CA. They also sell vinegar produced and manufactured in California.

The company, which is run by husband-and-wife team Paul and Suzie Bellomo, gets its name from the Italian word, Fusti, which refers to stainless steel containers used for storing and dispensing olive oil, vinegar and wine. These authentic, old-world vessels are simple and timeless, just like Il Fusti’s olive oil and vinegars. 

JG SWITZER: Jessica Green Switzer is a former Tesla executive, and launched JG Switzer in 2018 as a wool blanket company, but has now expanded to include a wider selection of natural-fiber textiles, bedding, and items for the home.

Jessica and her team (all women) design, mill, and sew every piece in her workshop in The Barlow. They use a 7.5-ton needle loom named “Luna.” All JG SWITZER pieces are made of natural fibers, and they always will be. She and her team are devoted to the finest: wool, silk, linen, cashmere, cotton and hemp. Jessica offers maker tours (accommodate 8 ppl/tour) that allow guests to have a tour of the wool workshop and a half-hour of making their own 20” square of Ready Roll fabric.

PAX WINERY & TASTING ROOM: Pax and Pam Mahle moved to wine country in 1997, with the hopes of creating a lifestyle involving working with wine.

After a few years of tasting, and sourcing wine from all over the state of California, Pax found a vineyard to which he felt an immediate connection: Alder Springs Vineyard, which ultimately led to the launch of the PAX brand in 2000. The Mahles made a bold choice at the time by choosing to pursue the “untapped potential” of the Syrah grape.

Their entire lineup of wines came from cool climate vineyards in Sonoma County and Mendocino. These wines were big, rich expressions of Syrah that went on to be highly requested, and Pax quickly became established as one of California’s premier producers of Syrah.

Pax Wines has evolved to include other exciting varieties like Trousseau Gris, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir, and Mission.

The Barlow Market District in Sebastopol: Everything You Need to Know
Pax Winery & Tasting Room at The Barlow.

For Pax and his team, winemaking is approached holistically, by using only grapes that are grown without the use of chemicals, and by hand-making wines with as little intervention as possible. All Pax wines are crushed by foot and hand, and fermented using only natural yeasts.

Pax Wines tasting room offers tasting flights, wine by-the-glass/bottle, and a selection of local cheese and charcuterie for every palate. The tasting room at The Barlow is open daily with indoor and outdoor seating and vinyl on the turntable plus, weekly live music.

REGION: Region is, at its core, a space to share and grow a community that truly appreciates wine. They establish relationships with local winemakers they love, and they welcome all wine drinkers to explore the Sonoma County Region through wine.

Visit Region to enjoy over 100+ wines by the taste, glass, or bottle at the traditional wine tasting bar, or help yourself at the untraditional wine machines. Region hosts featured winemaker happy hours every Wednesday from 5pm-7pm + other on-site events, including live music

SEISMIC BREWING COMPANY: Seismic Brewing Company was started by friends who have a passion for high quality craft beer, and who understand that being a “craft brewery” requires a principled approach and vigilance in maintaining that approach: like being proud ambassadors of their home in Sonoma County, remaining fearless in experimentation, and being devoted to quality, from grain-to-glass.

The standard for what constitutes great beer is always moving and shifting which is why their practices and beers are always evolving. Their tap room at The Barlow has billiards, large screen televisions and a large, pet-friendly patio; and offers beer flights and tastings, live music + other on-site events

SPIRIT WORKS DISTILLERY: Spirit Works Distillery, American Distilling Institute’ 2020’s Distillery of the Year , was founded in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Timo and Ashby Marshall.

The award-winning craft spirits producer house-ferments, distills, and bottles handmade Vodka, Gin, Sloe Gin, Barrel Gin, Barrel Reserve Sloe Gin and the all four-year-old Straight Wheat, Straight Rye, and Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey on-site. Led by one of the few female distilling teams in the U.S., Spirit Works is continually voted as Best Craft Distillery and Tasting Room in Sonoma County.

Tasting and distillery tours are available by reservation. They also offer a virtual distillery tour!

WM COFIELD CHEESEMAKERS brings Sonoma County its first proper British style cheesemaker.

In doing so, it also brings together two old friends – one a winemaker, one a cheesemaker and both at the top of their game. Keith Adams and Rob Hunter, co-founders of Wm Cofield Cheesemakers, are proud to introduce Wine Country to two tasty and exciting new cheeses: a complex, Stilton-inspired blue, and a lush, cloth-bound aged Cheddar.

For the folks who are perhaps more mild and playful at heart, Wm Cofield offers the most delicious, squeakiest cheese curds this side of the Wisconsin border! All three of these Wm Cofield’s cheeses use certified organic milk from grass-fed cows in nearby Petaluma.

History 

Apples have held an important and special place is Sebastopol and West County Sonoma from the early days of California’s statehood.

Apple production in the area exploded after Luther Burbank helped cultivate the Gravenstein variety in the late 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, apple production surged alongside wine-grape growing across Sonoma County. Prohibition crippled wine making and apple production surged well into the 1950’s as one of the county’s largest and most important industries.

Thomas Barlow and his family established themselves as important apple and berry farmers in these early years. In 1939 two of Thomas Barlow’s sons constructed an applesauce canning facility to process apples from the more than 11,000 acres of orchards nearby.

Several of the original structures remain in The Barlow, while newer structures added during its redevelopment echo the architectural style and design of the old processing and canning plant.

The second half of the 20th century saw a significant shift away from apples and to wine-grape growing. Today, the once expansive orchards in and around Sebastopol have shrunk to production valued at roughly $5 million per year, compared to wine-grape production value of more than $500 million per year.

As apple production waned, the Barlow applesauce cannery reduced its production and eventually closed.

The property changed into a collection of small manufacturers and the buildings slowly fell into disrepair. By the start of this century several of the old buildings were vacant or sparsely used, and most required significant improvements and renovation.

In fact, several of the old buildings were simply too far gone to save. The Barlow- once vibrant, active, and important- had become a neglected and declining campus in need of a new vision.

In 2005, Barney Aldridge acquired The Barlow property from his mentor, Ken Martin. At the time, the property consisted of seven buildings, which housed industrial tenants such as Bronze Plus Art Foundry, Guayakí Yerba Mate, Wolfard Glassblowing, The Sebastopol Center for the Arts, and Innovative Molding, a bottle cap manufacturing company.

With intentions to redevelop the project, Barney worked with local architects and designers to conceptualize a redevelopment of the former apple cannery, now dilapidated factory space at the gateway to West County.

After several revisions to the plan and feedback from the city locals to keep the nature true to Sebastopol, finally a plan would come to fruition to incorporate the site’s history of manufacturing, and the towns love of small town, local charm.

While finalizing construction plans and seeking Lending, Barney took his vision to the people and began hand curating a roster of local producers, with the intention of creating a “makers marketplace” where the public could witness the production of some of their favorite products, with a behind the scenes look at how those products were made, and most importantly, who was making them.

With a mission to create and maintain a community where people would enjoy art, wine and time together, The Barlow was born.

With brewers, artists and wine makers, came funding for the 30-million-dollar project. In 2012, construction was underway for the planned 18-building new and renovated project, with plans to expand McKinley Street, for better connectivity to the downtown core.

Within a year, the project was near completion with tenants lined up ready to begin tenant improvements for their new hub. Since, this local artisan production campus has attracted tourists by offering a wine country experience all within 4 city blocks, and pleased locals with its ode to the Barlow history.

While strolling down McKinley Street, you will capture glances of the past with cleverly situated apple paintings, designed to mirror the old Barlow Applesauce labels that once wrapped the cans of the Barlow Family’s canned apple slices, locally grown in Sebastopol.

You’ll peek into glazed doors to watch full production underway in the 40 artisanal production spaces. Your senses will be heightened while the smells and tastes of the edible landscape filling the 12.5-acre campus.

The dream, the vision, the mission is now achieved.

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