Owner’s Kurt and Dawn make you feel like family at Vino et Amicis
Old Orcutt is a place to “wine-about.” Step out of the hustle, bustle and busyness of life to enjoy all that Old Orcutt has to offer. Experience fine, award-winning wine from our world class wine region, or taste delicious food from one of our many restaurants and you’ll understand why people come to live it up in Old Town Orcutt.
Keys to the Coast is always on the lookout for exceptional places to share. We definitely found a hidden gem in the heart of Old Orcutt. One of our favorite places is Vino et Amici’s. Owners, Kurt and Dawn Hixenbaugh, make you feel like family when you walk into their wine bar. They love what they do and it shows. Is it because they are still newlyweds and get to work together? Based on their playful chemistry, sparking banter and pride in the business it’s my guess that working together is one of the many reasons that it is such a fun place to visit.
The Hixenbaugh’s visit the region’s wineries and hand select the best wines and sparkling’s to be had in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Kurt shared, “Dawn and I like to make genuine connections with winemakers, to ensure we are able to tell the story behind every bottle of wine. You will never see the wine that we serve at Vino et Amici’s on grocery store shelves.”
Twelve years ago, Dawn and Kurt met while working for the Police Department in San Luis Obispo. Friendship turned into more and their two families became one. It appears to me that their life together is like a fairy-tale. Maybe I’m thinking of Snow White. When they blended their families, seven children came together. Yep! That’s more than the Brady Bunch. Two years later, on the exact date of their marriage on May 18, 2017, they opened their wine bar in Old Town Orcutt at 156 E. Broadway, next to Naughty Oak Brewery.
Enjoying great wine with great friends is what Vino et Amicis is all about
Growing up on the Central Coast, both Dawn and Kurt felt that Old Orcutt was the best place to start their wine bar. Old Orcutt is a spot where you know all your neighbors and are likely to run into someone you know every time you are out. They feel that Old Orcutt is that new little gem, with a lot of different things to offer. Old Orcutt is a town where you feel like you have lived there your whole life.
Dawn and Kurt have a love and passion for wine. Opening up a wine bar was only a natural next step for the both of them. In their search for the best wines to offer to their customers, they look for that wine that is distinctively different. The search is always on for wine that has the heart and soul of the winemaker. The quest to find the best wines is what makes the wine bar one of a kind. Kurt also shared, “Being home winemakers, Dawn and I love hearing about the winemaker’s most recent vintages; it gives us an insight about what we can do better on our own.”
The instant success of Vino et Amici’s is rooted in the dedication, passion and help of their family. Every single one of their seven children, spanning the ages from 11 to 25, pitched in. They helped spackle, paint and add every little detail to make their wine bar feel like home. Dawn told us “To walk in everyday and see our dream come to fruition, the work that our family had done with our hands, gives us so much pride.”
Their hard work definitely paid off. It is a Keys 2 the Coast favorite place to wine, dine, and explore on the California Central Coast. Walking into Vino et Amici’s is like walking into the living room of a friend’s house. Inside, there are several areas, all offering incredibly comfortable seating. There is a nice bar to belly up to, inviting couches, and cozy chairs. The finishing touches, like pillows and blankets, are the personal touches and part of the reasons that it has become a favorite place to hang out. Outside, you’ll find a small patio overlooking a fountain with nice fire pits to keep you toasty while sipping and savoring a delicious bottle of wine.
Vino et Amicis serves up beer from Naughty Oak Brewing Company and charcuterie from Pizzeria Bello Forno.
If you are looking for a day trip, come to Old Orcutt. It is just south of Santa Maria and well worth the drive. Traveling north from Santa Barbara, it’s only an hour away. Heading south from San Luis Obispo, it’s approximately 30 minutes to get there. I can assure you that you will never feel like a tourist at Vino et’ Amici’s; you’ll feel like a local. Pizzeria Bello Forno is across the street and they provide excellent charcuterie platters, to enhance the experience. On most Thursdays and Fridays, they have local musicians performing. Once a month, they have “winemaker talks,” where a local winemaker is featured to share interesting stories.
Most days you’ll find Dawn and Kurt serving up wine, telling great stories, and having a lot of laughs. Life is short, so get out there and have some fun.