Is It Wine Tasting? Is It Standup Comedy? Unique Tastings In Santa Barbara County Cross The Two

Nov 29, 2017

It’s a busy Saturday afternoon at one of the Santa Ynez Valley’s most popular wineries.

Dozens of people surround a huge island in the main tasting room, sampling different wines. But nearly a dozen people are being herded into a back room, for a very different type of wine tasting experience. It’s a popular one of a kind, R rated event which goes way past the traditional buttery, toasty, and silky descriptions.

Tasting Room Manager Billy Kissel does an over the top, adult themed tasting experience. Kissel mixes a traditional tasting, where you learn about the wines, with a lot of humor.

He was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times for decades, covering crime, and later fashion. Kissel then moved to the Robb Report, a magazine which focuses on luxury items from yachts to mansions. But, he became tired of reporting, and wanted to do something fun.

He moved to the Santa Barbara County, where he started pouring wine. He started developing funny little stories about the wines he would pour, to make their back stories more interesting. He developed a reputation as a storyteller, and was hired four years ago by Roblar.

Kissel has developed stories for all of the different types of wines he pours. Billy’s wine tasting experience has the people in this back room roaring with laughter.

Paul Rassmusen of Los Angeles brought his two adult daughters, and admits no one prepared him for how funny the experience would be, or how R rated it would be at times.

Kissel is the first to admit his back room tasting experiences aren’t for everyone, and most people do the traditional visits. Like standup comedy, it’s definitely blue humor at times, and pushes the boundaries of taste. But, he says the idea is to make the tastings fun for guests.