Califonia Bountiful

Location, location, location

May/June 2021 California Bountiful magazine

For this couple, there's no place like the Santa Ynez Valley

Sam and Shawnda Marmorstein own a multifaceted business in Los Olivos that includes a farm, café and wine shop. Photo: © 2021 Silas Fallstich

Shawnda Marmorstein, a former real estate agent, has put a new spin on the three-word mantra most commonly associated with home values.

"What I tell my kids, now that they're going off to college, is, 'Location, location, location,'" the mother of three said. "You're not going to be happy unless you love where you are."

She's reflecting about how she, a native of the San Fernando Valley, ended up in Los Olivos, a rural community in the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country: "Everybody's like, 'Why are you coming here as a young, single woman? There's nobody here.' And I'm like, 'I love it here. And if I'm going to meet someone, they're going to love it here, too.'"

As fate would have it, Sam Marmorstein also moved to Los Olivos because of the location. The former L.A. stockbroker was wooed during a spring bike-riding trip through the lush, green hills. ("It was magical," he said.) Their Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café has been a fixture on the town's two-block main street for 25 years.

Location is also key when it comes to running their multifacted business. The café specializes in locally grown, wine-friendly cuisine, and the wine shop features mostly local vintages, including their own Bernat Wines. The Marmorsteins grow produce for the café and grapes for the wine on a small farm about a mile away.

Proximity, they point out nearly in unison, plays a crucial role in the quality of the food they serve.

"I've learned, as a farmer, that the minute you harvest a piece of produce, it's at the peak of its flavor. The sooner you can get it to the table," he said, "the more optimal the flavor," she finished.

For them, location is everything.

Barbara Arciero


Butternut squash and kale salad

Grilled escarole salad

Summer salad

Fennel citrus salad

Little gem salad

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