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Saldo family opens Saints Barrel Wine Bar in downtown SLO

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San Luis Obispo siblings Tyler and Sarah Saldo—along with their mother, Marian—are pulling out all the stops for the grand opening of their new wine bar, Saints Barrel, which replaces Luis Wine Bar at 1021 Higuera St.

Originally conceived by the family in 2021, Saints Barrel quietly tested SLO’s consumer waters last month with a soft opening, and is now operating at full throttle Tuesday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to close, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

LIGHT BITES Pair your sips at Saints Barrel with cheese and charcuterie, and Mediterranean towers; fresh ceviche; toasted baguettes with salted butter; and chocolate mousse. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • LIGHT BITES Pair your sips at Saints Barrel with cheese and charcuterie, and Mediterranean towers; fresh ceviche; toasted baguettes with salted butter; and chocolate mousse.

Festivities for the grand opening include complimentary wine and bites, with live music from Dante Marsh and Jon Millsap on Friday, Feb. 4; a Spanish paella pairing and DJ set from Malik Miko Thorne of A Satellite of Love on Saturday, Feb. 5; and an oyster and champagne brunch on Sunday, Feb. 6. Special hours for the event are posted online.

All food will be prepared by family friend and private consulting chef José

Dahan, who also curated the wine bar's small bites menu.

The star of the show—which will linger long past the weekend's festivities—is the bar's liquid repertoire, meticulously selected by its in-house wine expert.

Sarah Saldo is a familiar industry face on the Central Coast, with stints as tasting room manager at SLO Stills and wine educator at DAOU Family Estates in Paso Robles.

She is a certified wine specialist with the Society of Wine Educators and a level 2 certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers working toward her level 3 advanced designation.

PASSIONATE ABOUT POURS Saints Barrel's launch team includes, from left, owners Sarah and Tyler Saldo, wine specialist Megan Szymanski, and marketing and assistant manager Lauren Ralston. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SAINTS BARREL WINE BAR
  • Photo Courtesy Of Saints Barrel Wine Bar
  • PASSIONATE ABOUT POURS Saints Barrel's launch team includes, from left, owners Sarah and Tyler Saldo, wine specialist Megan Szymanski, and marketing and assistant manager Lauren Ralston.

"My sommelier training allows me to approach wine and beverages from many different lenses," Saldo said. "I also studied sustainable agriculture at UC Davis and received my Permaculture Design Certificate in 2012. My combination of sommelier training, agriculture knowledge, and regenerative principles allows me to connect with each person at Saints Barrel in a very personalized way.

"Whether the individual is more interested in the people behind the wine, the history or geography of the region, or the regenerative practices in the vineyard or in the cellar, I believe the team at Saints Barrel is able to connect each person to an aspect of wine that resonates [with] them the most," she said.

A BARREL OF FUN Saints Barrel's motto is: "The space for all to taste." Locals and tourists alike are invited to experience the wine bar's friendly vibe and oak-inspired décor at 1021 Higuera St. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • A BARREL OF FUN Saints Barrel's motto is: "The space for all to taste." Locals and tourists alike are invited to experience the wine bar's friendly vibe and oak-inspired décor at 1021 Higuera St.

Saints Barrel will offer monthly rotating local and international wine flights, "so even if you become a regular, we hope to always surprise and delight you with something new," she added.

The bar also plans to differentiate itself from the local competition with a sake flight.

"We think [sake] is the next exciting beverage trend," Saldo said. "We love sake and are excited to share it with the community, as most people are disconnected from the winemaking process and how to order it. There is also a huge depth of history and classification that we believe gives us an opportunity to educate and get excited about this neglected beverage."

While Sarah is the face of Saints, her brother Tyler brings behind-the-scenes expertise to the table. The UC Davis- and Quinnipiac University-educated lawyer, with Tardiff & Saldo Law Offices in SLO, incorporated the business as SLO Bar LLC in June.

However, "the DBA [Doing Business As] wasn't secured until November 2021, as it took a little while to come up with the name," Tyler said.

"We wanted it to have meaning, and be original and something that we all liked and thought other people would like as well," he explained. "The name Saints Barrel is derived from the space ... which we think resembles the inside of a barrel. [It's also] a little homage to our hometown San—Saint—Luis Obispo.

"Our logo, a bee with a barrel abdomen and inverted wine glass thorax, is a symbol of our space and wine bringing people together."

Tyler conceded that "opening during a global pandemic is not ideal, but we are making the best of it, and I think we have a good team that will help establish our reputation as the wine bar to go on the Central Coast."

CREEKSIDE LIBATIONS In addition to seating for 70 indoors, Saints Barrel offers space for 30 guests outdoors on its heated, dog-friendly patio. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • CREEKSIDE LIBATIONS In addition to seating for 70 indoors, Saints Barrel offers space for 30 guests outdoors on its heated, dog-friendly patio.

Sarah added that her family hopes "to create an organic, fun, and educational environment that embraces local artists, musicians, and winemakers, but also inspires people with different flavors from around the world."

While adhering to COVID-19-related business restrictions, the Saints team is fine-tuning a slew of upcoming events, including DJs and live music performances, a Valentine's Day ceramics workshop, bingo and trivia nights, and charitable tie-ins.

The nearly 2,000-square-foot space and creekside patio will also be available for private rental.

Tyler added that club membership options are being developed, and hours of operation may expand as team members are hired.

Current staff include marketing and assistant manager Lauren Ralston and wine specialist Megan Szymanski. Both are graduates of Cal Poly's wine and viticulture program and are currently pursuing MBAs at the university.

Ralston, who previously worked as an account coordinator at Paso Robles marketing firm Solterra Strategies—focusing on wine, food, and tourism—said she is "beyond excited to continue pairing my love for marketing and wine through my position at Saints Barrel."

"It's been a wonderful opportunity to connect with people, learn more about wine and sake, and be a part of a new business," she continued. "Building the Saints Barrel brand alongside the Saldos and sharing it with the SLO community has been so special to me.

"Tyler, Sarah, and Marian are kind, generous, hard-working people. They care about SLO and providing a great space for people to come together," Ralston added. "[They] know how to throw a sweet party, too." Δ

Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte loves the Saints Barrel vibe and tribe. Reach her at cwhyte@newtimesslo.com.

Editors note: This article was modified to correct Saints Barrel's hours.

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