Through their respective businesses, restaurateur George Barnes (chef and owner of Smiling Fish Café for thirteen years and currently director of operations at 723 Whiskey Bravo in Seagrove Beach, Florida) and grocer Charlie Modica, Jr. (of Modica Market in Seaside) have had a big impact on the way people in the coastal communities along Scenic Highway 30-A eat. So it is only fitting that the two friends have teamed up to influence what those same people drink. The first wine from their company, 30A Coastal Dunes, has just been released.
Barnes says the wine is about “friendships, relationships, and the beauty of this area.” In fact, the label artwork, done by Allison Wickey, is of 30-A’s Western Lake. Barnes describes it as an “identifying and iconic image of the area.” He says, “When I first saw that view, it captured my heart and made me wonder how I could move here.”
Barnes did move to Santa Rosa Beach in the early nineties, and he’s been friends with Modica and his family ever since. Modica considers Barnes “not just a friend, but a brother.”
The friendship that is such an important part of this wine extends beyond that of Barnes and Modica. In the mid-1990s, Barnes met Peter and Cathy Seghesio at a local wine dinner. Peter has deep roots in the California wine industry. The friendship grew with the Seghesios taking frequent trips to Florida and Barnes visiting the Seghesios at their home in Healdsburg, California, on many occasions (including his celebration of a milestone birthday). Barnes and Cathy Seghesio even realized they had worked for the same company when both were in New Orleans many years ago.
During this time, Modica was also getting to know the Seghesios. They would visit Seaside for Easter each year, and their sons, Joseph and Will, made a habit of having breakfast at Modica Market so their parents could have the luxury of sleeping in.
Peter Seghesio had long encouraged Barnes to come to California not just to visit, but also to create a wine. Barnes finally felt the time was right to team with the Seghesios. Their San Lorenzo Winery is located in the cellar below their home on a vineyard that Peter’s maternal great-grandfather, Francesco Passalacqua, started in 1896 (the winery is named for Francesco’s hometown in Italy).
30A Coastal Dunes Wines are distributed by DiBacco Importing & Distributing. It will be offered at 45 Central and Great Southern Café in Seaside, 723 Whiskey Bravo and Café Thirty-A in Seagrove Beach, Stinky’s Fish Camp in Dune Allen, George’s at Alys Beach, the Bay in Santa Rosa Beach, and Edward’s in Rosemary Beach by the glass or the bottle. Modica Market will also sell wines by the glass, the bottle, and the case.
Barnes and Modica want 30A Coastal Dunes Wine Company to be a platform for preservation efforts in the 30-A area; of particular concern is the protection of the fragile coastal dune lakes. And they hope to get others involved in the company.
Modica says, “We want to encourage others to come on the journey with us.” With 30A Coastal Dunes Wines it will be a lovely journey indeed.