It was a full house and a stellar lineup of local talent at VinTura on Monday night, when nine different acts and dozens of customers came in to bid farewell to the Downtown Ventura wine tasting room.
“Lots of people came to show support and say goodbye,” says owner Kristen Shubert, who took over the former Wine Rack and renamed it VinTura Tasting Room and Wine Rack in 2017.
With a desirable location on California Street, quality wine and beer on the menu, live music several nights a week and a comfortably stylish vibe, VinTura became a popular gathering spot for both wine and music lovers. Many of its regular cast of players performed for the “Happy Last Hour” on Feb. 25, including Frank Barajas and the Corsican Brothers, Karyn 805, Jodi Farrell, Toni Jannotta and Jason Ho.
“It looks like a fraternity party was here last night,” Shubert says with a laugh.
The tasting room’s demise comes as a surprise to regulars, musicians and Shubert herself. The renowned wine expert found out on Feb. 6 that her landlord, CSP Partners, was not going to renew her lease, and that she had until the end of the month to vacate the space at 14 S. California St.
“It’s a short amount of time to get everything packed up and moved out,” says Shubert, who is spending these last few days selling off furniture, equipment, décor and inventory.
Why CSP Partners chose not to renew VinTura’s lease is unclear. Her landlords did not give Shubert a reason, or tell her what plans for the space will be after she leaves.
“It’s just another Downtown Ventura landlord issue. He won’t tell me who’s coming in,” she says, adding that she’s heard “rumors that one of my competitors is coming in.”
Going forward, Shubert may find herself in France, competing in the professional wine tasting circuit. She has the background for it: With decades of experience in the food and beverage industry, she is a certified sommelier, a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and a former member of the U.S. Wine Tasting Team. In August, she and local sommelier Lisa Stoll competed together to beat out seven other teams in the U.S. Open Blind Wine Tasting Competition in Los Angeles, and the two led Team USA during the World Wine Tasting Championship in France in October.
But losing VinTura so quickly took a financial toll, leaving Shubert’s future somewhat uncertain.
“Without any extra cash, I don’t know,” she says. “There was no way to get any money out of this.”