Sebastopol – hippy not hipster, counterculture, organic, artsy and artisan. Local artists, chefs, winemakers share, not sell. Hence The Barlow…
Located ten miles from Bodega Bay, Sebastopol sits on the western edge of the Santa Rosa plain and has a population of 7,379. Sebastopol has a rich history as an apple growing region, and although apples have all but been completely supplanted by wine grapes, the town still celebrates its roots with the annual Apple Blossom Festival and Gravenstein Apple Fair. While exuding quaint small town charm, Sebastopol is also recognized as being one of the most politically progressive towns in Northern California. In fact in 2000, the Sebastopol City Council had a Green Party majority. Think Berkeley’s funky, country cousin with a “foodie” uncle and a sommelier aunt and there you’ll have Sebastopol.
Downtown Sebastopol is West County’s (Occidental, Graton, Forestville, Valley Ford) arts and culture hub. It’s a charming locale with many unique, eclectic shops featuring craft stores, health food stores, bookstores and art galleries. There’s a huge 8,000 square foot vintage clothing store and café by day that doubles as a bar and concert venue by night. One of my favorite artists, Patrick Amiot, creates the most amazing, whimsical sculptures from recycled oil drums, refrigerators, trailers, old cars and other scrap metal/trash. His sculptures, painted in bright, cartoonish colors, are a dozen feet tall and dot almost every front yard, the entire length of Florence Avenue. On a warm summer evening it’s fun to walk this outdoor art gallery.
On the east side of town you’ll find the newly opened, The Barlow. This $32 million retail, arts and restaurant district occupies 8 to 10 square blocks and was once home to an apple processing plant. Today these chic, urban warehouse spaces house local food producers, artists and wine makers. It seems that The Barlow is the first business community focused not only on connecting customers with products and the people who make them but also with the production itself. Wine tasting rooms encourage conversation with wine makers, art galleries allow visitors to watch the artists as they paint, coffee companies teach the customer to pull the perfect espresso at their weekly espresso labs. It’s no wonder that Sunset magazine calls The Barlow, “the new artisan amusement park.” Here’s a list of tenants: http://thebarlow.net/tenants/