May 21, 2021 – Early last March, Ryan and Rachel Beauregard, co-owners of Beauregard Vineyards, were sitting on top of two worlds. They had a brisk business going at their mountain tasting room in the hamlet of Bonny Doon and were just opening their dream second location in the coastal town of Davenport.
After just barely getting open, the pandemic shut it down. As the couple was attempting to navigate the yoyo impact of color codes and COVID protocols, the entire town was threatened by the lightning-caused fires that began just north of Davenport. Merging to create a firestorm that devastated much of Bonny Doon, the CZU Complex Fire destroyed nearly a thousand homes.
Although the Beauregard family lost their entire crop due to heavy smoke damage, the winery and their estate vineyards were largely spared, only because Ryan refused to abandon ship. He worked tirelessly with friends and neighbors to clear brush, cut firebreaks, dig containment lines to protect lives and livelihoods. It was some three tense months of firefighting, smoke, ash and desperation, followed by another month or two of getting roads and power restored to the area.
Driving up the coast from Santa Cruz today, the spots where the fires originated— blackening hills, torching trees and in some cases Highway 1 itself—are clearly visible. Perhaps the most dramatic scene is that of Waddell Creek, where the fire tore up the creekbed, after burning much of Big Basin Park and a good swath of neighborhoods north and west of Boulder Creek. To say 2020 was a brutal year would be a gross understatement. Its scars will be long with us.
But 2021, even though it might have started on a stumble, seems to have found its footing. Things, thankfully, are finally looking up. That’s why Rachel and Ryan are ecstatic to welcome you to their Slow Coast Wine Bar in charming Davenport, just north of Santa Cruz. Offering indoor seated tasting at present, with bar service to be added as Covid restrictions are eased, every table enjoys an ocean view. It’s a special spot, this former tasting room of Bonny Doon Vineyards. In fact, it’s the second time Ryan and Rachel have taken over a former Bonny Doon Vineyards site, the first being their current winery, home and tasting room on Pine Flat Road, which they purchased in 2008.
“We were thrilled to find this Davenport place for many reasons, mainly because the use permit at our estate winery is very limited and therefore we could not host the kind of events that we wanted to do: birthday parties, private parties, small wedding receptions, proper food and wine pairings. Davenport is a place where we can fill that void,” Ryan told us.
He says that upon signing the lease and finishing the tenant improvements in 2020, they were plagued with shutdowns. “We had small openings but were so limited that it was simply not worth it so we let the space lay fallow for 13 months while paying rent. We also had the hardship of the CZU lightning complex fire, which almost wiped out all of my life’s work and caused a lack of income because of further shutdowns. We felt so strongly about Davenport and what it can offer the wine community that we suck it out despite the financial hardship that it added.”
Beauregard’s Slow Coast Wine Bar is currently offering wines by the bottle, glass, and 1oz pours, allowing tasters to create their own flights. Current offerings include favorites like the 2018 Chardonnay Bald Mountain, 2018 Zinfandel Beauregard Ranch, 2020 Lost Weekend Rosé and 2018 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains.
Ryan says this place is really his wife’s baby. Clearly, Rachel is delighted to get the wine bar open and begin a return to what will hopefully be a new and better normal. “With 2020 finally in the rear view mirror, and picking ourselves up from pandemic and wildfire trauma, our community is definitely ready to get out, celebrate and reconnect!” she says. “We hope this space brings people together for sunsets and wine, birthdays, FriYAY afternoons with co-workers and friends, DJ’s, live music, dancing and all things celebratory. We are also excited to offer wine and cheese courses, in-depth vertical tastings, local pop-ups and more.”
She’s already curated an assortment of premium local products for the enjoyment of casual and regular visitors alike, including Tabitha Stroup’s Friend in Cheeses jams, Ashby Confections, Marini’s chocolates, Deerhaven soaps, local olive oils from Wild Poppies and more.
Did we mention the setting? Although there is no outdoor seating here, the indoor area is spacious and the furniture most inviting. Then there’s that big body of water across the highway.
Hours are Thursdays to Mondays, 1pm—8pm, with last call at 7:30pm. Reservations are not required. Groups of up to 24 can reserve the entire space for private events at present, with the ability to accommodate up to 60 guests, once 100% occupancy is permitted by the County.
“The Slow Coast Wine Bar has an ocean view from every window and is located by Davenport Roadhouse which is under new ownership. It has some incredible new energy which we are very happy about. This creates a solid destination. There is no tasting room in California that can offer a hike and dramatic coastal views across the street. Often whales can be seen spouting from off of the cliffs,” notes Ryan.
And even if you don’t spy whales, you’re sure to spy some interesting antics from passersby.
Let’s raise a glass to the Slow Coast!
The Slow Coast Wine Bar by Beauregard Vineyards is located at 450, CA-1, Davenport, CA, 95017. Tel: 831.600.7402