Recap of the Celebration of Life for Seth Kunin, winemaker, sommelier, husband, father and friend

I know some of you were not able to go or did not go because you thought you were not that close to Seth or may just know of his wines; regardless, this is a re-cap of this extra special event as it was truly a one of a kind COL for a one of a kind person.

It was held at the Larner Vineyard, an immense property located outside the city of Solvang in Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County with vineyards primarily dedicated to Southern Rhone varietals.

In addition to the large, hilltop family home, there are many outbuildings, one of which is the site of the future on premises winery and where the COL first was initiated.

I understood the response from the RSVPs was so great, that they actually had to place a limit on attendance. My best estimate is that there were well over 500 people there and the winery was set up for abut 450 or so which meant that many stood outside and listened to the service from speakers placed outside the building.

Those who attended represented a Who`s Who in the Santa Barbara county wine and food industry and beyond, a guesstimate of about 50 sommeliers from all over the country and friends and relatives. It was often heard stated that this group assembled on this day will never be duplicated in energy and personality.

The service included speakers ranging from Mike Larner, winemaker and vineyard manger, to family members, school hood friends and others with strong ties to Seth.

After the service, we moved out and up to one of the outbuildings, the original Ballard Store, which had been relocated on to the property in its original state from the nearby small town of Ballard. A Kunin sparkling Chenin Blanc was served to compliment the tables of snacks with oysters especially featured. Most everyone brought wine to share and some opened them up at this juncture before we progressed on up to the top of the property for the out door set up with a full on spread catered by the esteemed, local Hitching Post. Additionally, numerous Kunin wines graced all of the tables for all to enjoy while dining.

All the while, Seth`s favourite music was being played through the sound system to add to the special tribute to him and his passions.

To add to the amazing setting, we got a pre-sunset aura as well as later on the sunset itself happening in the background.

A table in the centre of the dining area was dedicated for wines and it was FULL. See photos.

The professionally done program included some remarks that are worthy of being included herein:

"On October 29th, Santa Barbara lost a grand ambassador and dear friend.

To know Seth Kunin was to experience his boundless hospitality, laughter and kindness.His generosity touched people not only in our town, but all over the world.

Seth always brought far more to the table. If you invited him to dinner, you would find him at your stove. If you had a project, he`d be there helping you to build it. With him, no day was ordinary, no meal was humdrum, everything was one for the books.

Seth knew how to live. He was a dreamer, but more importantly he was a doer who rolled up his sleeves and made things happen–a difficult harvest, an international wine event, and two hand built tasting rooms that helped put Santa Barbara`a Funk Zone on the map.

His greatest love were his wife and daughter, Magan and Phoebe, and his circle of friends, all of whom he graced with authenticity. character and class. In life`s most difficult moments, when you needed someone to answer, Seth always picked up. He was our rock.

Seth`s passing leaves an enormous void. His enthusiasm for life and tragic unexpectedness of his passing are a reminder for all of us to love and live better during this short time we share.

Let`s soothe our sorrows by looking at his fifty years as one great vintage. For years to come, may we celebrate the gift of his life at dinner parties, in stories and as an unflagging reminder of the way to treat each other.

To borrrow a line from Seth himself, we say “Well-done Sir” "

Well done Sir. RIP Seth,

Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects

Thanks for posting this, Blake. See some familar faces in the pics.
Very nice tribute to Seth and a great way to send him off.

It certainly was an unbelievable afternoon and evening, and great to see folks like you there my friend!

It was beautiful, and heart-wrenching, and inspirational all together. My take-home message was that life is way too short to do anything other than to do more! Do more with your family. Do more with your friends. Make time to go above and beyond the call of duty in everything in anything that you do. Touch others lives as often as possible. Do more for your family. Do more for your friends.

The man will be missed, but hopefully his spirit will live on in all of us.


Larry, I was hoping to see you and it manifested. I appreciate your beautiful words above and were I to take the mic and share during this COL, those would have been my remarks as somewhat stated in the service program: “Seth`s passing leaves an enormous void. His enthusiasm for life and tragic unexpectedness of his passing are a reminder for all of us to love and live better during this short time we share.”

Seth’s brother Chris was so composed and eloquent talking about Seth - he brought the crowd to both tears and laughter.

One of his favorite statements was in explaining the way that Seth described his winemaking - and something I certainly take to heart:

Winemaking has to be a blend of science and art. If winemaking is too science-driven, it stands a chance of coming across as lacking soul. On the other hand, if winemaking is all about art, the wines may not be ‘describable’ to anyone other than yourself.

I’ll add to this - winemaking without passion leads to a wine that seems to be ‘missing something’ . . .