Santa Barbara County region
A tiny producer of distinctive wines that embrace the beautiful characteristics of Santa Barbara County
Wine lovers worldwide know the ancient Latin saying, “In vino veritas,” or “In wine, there is truth.” Few in Santa Barbara wine country understand this more than Matt Kowalczyk, the co-owner and winemaker of Buscador Wine, located in the small town of Buellton.
Meaning “Seeker” or “Searcher” in Spanish, Buscador Wine is the culmination of Kowalczyk’s many years of seeking the meaning of life. ‘Buscador’ is also a nickname that was given to Kowalczyk in Guatemala in 2000, and the name certainly defines his life, his passion, and his wine. The philosophical Matt Kowalczyk was born and raised in Detroit and grew up as a world traveler on a nonstop journey exploring new lands and cultures, seeking out new experiences, and yearning to find meaning and truth through it all. After earning a masters degree from UCLA’s toxicology program, he took several globe-hopping trips, traveling throughout Europe, Australia, Asia, and New Zealand. It was during a summer in France that Kowalczyk was inspired by the beautiful wine country and vowed to make wine himself one day.
Upon returning to the United States, Kowalczyk followed the recommendations of friends and moved to the Central Coast’s Santa Ynez Valley at the height of the ‘Sideways’ craze. In 2006, he began working at Kalyra Winery as an assistant winemaker and he released his first bottlings of Buscador Wine shortly thereafter in 2008.
Kowalczyk and his wife Stephanie wanted to create a unique boutique wine experience with Buscador - one built on integrity and truth. They search for the best vineyards, practice innovative winemaking techniques, and create a distinctively different feel with their wines. Their focus is on bold Bordeaux, Rhône and Burgundian varietals, all sourced from select sites in the Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. They make several different wines, but in extremely limited amounts - the total annual case production for Buscador Wine is well under 1,000 cases.
In April of 2017, Buscador Wine opened its tasting room in an industrial warehouse in Buellton. The unique location provides customers with a wine tasting experience unlike any other, with the winery occupying the same space and allowing visitors to touch the barrels and taste the future. The space also stands out with its beautiful and psychedelic wall mural, painted by Los Angeles street artist Bobby Rodriguez. It’s a surreal centerpiece where waves crash in outer space as bulls stampede (Kowalczyk also ran with the bulls in San Fermín, Spain).
We are happy to present this tiny producer to our Garagiste Wine Club members. Kowalczyk’s wines are authentic and distinctive, embracing the beautiful characteristics of the Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills appellations. We hope you will seek them out if ever in the area. Cheers!