Staff Report

Brick Barn Wine Estate, which opened its new hospitality center in April, has announced a management team led by general manager and industry veteran Tom O’Higgins.

Brick Barn Wine Estate features a 35-acre vineyard with a focus on pinot noir, grenache, cabernet franc, chardonnay and aromatic whites.

The label’s first wines were released earlier this year. The new hospitality center adjoins the winery in a red brick barn that features a tasting room, indoor event spaces, a wedding garden, and an outdoor guest lounge.

The winery, on a historic, 1,100-acre ranch, is locally owned by Norman and Kathy Williams.

O’Higgins is a wine industry executive with 30 years of experience in France, the Napa Valley, Sonoma and the Central Coast. Before joining Brick Barn, he was general manager of nearby Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards.

At Brick Barn, O’Higgins has steered construction of the winery and hospitality center, and now oversees all operations including wine production, viticulture, marketing, hospitality, and sales.

The winemaker is Rob DaFoe, a Santa Barbara native and former professional snowboarder who produced the winemaking documentary “From Ground to Glass.” He paid his dues at local wineries before co-founding his own label, Tanner DaFoe.

His wines led the Wine Spectator’s James Laube to call Tanner DaFoe one of four “rising stars in California cabernet.”

Sonja Walker, the tasting room and events manager, studied art history in Germany through the University of Maryland and began her hospitality career in Dallas as an art gallery events director.

Pursuing her dual passions for events and wine, she moved in 2014 to the Central Coast, where she became the event manager at Sanford Winery & Vineyards. She now heads up both the tasting room and special events at Brick Barn.

Channing Jones, the wine club manager, grew up in Ojai, where she and her siblings helped her grandfather on their family vineyard and winery. She studied entrepreneurship at SBCC and launched a wine-marketing consultancy with her sister.

Prior to joining Brick Barn, she was the direct-sales and membership manager at Sunstone Vineyards and Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley.

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