Beloved California Winemaker Seth Kunin Dies At 50

Renowned California winemaker Seth Kunin passed away in his sleep on October 28. According to his wife Magan, he suffered a heart attack. On Facebook, she wrote: "It is with great sadness that I let all of you know that Seth suffered a heart attack last night in his sleep. We will share information of a memorial service in celebration of his life soon."

Kunin founded two wine labels of his own, served as winemaker at Westerly Vineyards for nearly a decade, and was very active in the Santa Barbara wine community. Friends, family, and admirers mourned Kunin's loss in comments beneath the post, remembering him as a "wonderful man" with "great talent" and a "sweet person."

"Seth was larger than life and still is in so many ways. I have so many good memories of him and the good life he grabbed firmly with both hands," Rob Robinson wrote. "We have all learned from him. He has always been and will continue to be a bright light in my life."

On Instagram, Wander & Wine's Hana-Lee shared a heartfelt message: "What a dedicated advocate for CA wine, talented winemaker, incredible chef, loving husband and father, and generous friend. My heart breaks that only a couple of nights ago we were sharing food, wine and laughs and now he's gone. I'm so so so grateful for all the fun memories. May we all have the same zest for life, incredible joy, and love for family that Seth had."

Kunin was born in New York and attended UCLA, where he studied kinesiology, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1991, at the age of 24, he became manager of Wine Cask — a fine dining restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. In 1994, the eatery won Wine Spectator's Grand Award.

In 1998, Kunin founded namesake Kunin Wines, known for its Rhône-style blend of syrah and zinfandel. He was also a winemaker at Westerly Vineyards from 1999 to 2008, and in 2013, he founded AVA Santa Barbara — a beachside wine-tasting room at the heart of the city's quirky Funk Zone neighborhood.

Wine Spectator reports that outside of his own work, Kunin was heavily involved in the local wine community. He held positions on the boards of the Santa Barbara County Vintner's Foundation, Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, and the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail (off of which Kunin Wines is located). He was also on the committee for the Central Coast Wine Classic and was a consultant for the Masters of Food & Wine, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, and Los Angeles Food & Wine ceremonies.

He leaves behind his wife Magan and their 8-year-old daughter Phoebe.

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