One of the newest businesses to open in Los Olivos has only a slight link to wine — one of its owner/operators is winemaker Michael Larner.
But the driving force behind the Los Olivos General Store is co-owner Christina LoCascio Larner, Michael’s wife and a longtime local artist.
The Larner family opened their store in mid-May in the historic garage and pumping station at the corner of Grand and Alamo Pintado. The structure, built in 1901, housed the first gas station in Santa Barbara County, the couple noted.
The named their Los Olivos General Store after the “small town with a strong sense of community,” Christina Larner said.
“We decided to recreate an old-time general or neighborhood store — but with a modern twist. The goal was to create a place where locals and visitors alike could shop for a broad range of unique gifts and locally produced products.” The store’s theme is trifold: wine, food and home.
Painter Christina Larner’s medium is red wine on paper — “a cool niche for a wine town like Los Olivos.”
She displays a few of her originals and limited-edition prints in a tiny studio off the main store, and said she plans to have a wine art exhibit there in the future.
Christina Larner graduated with a fine arts degree from UCSB, and attended programs at the Laguna College of Art and Design, as well as Otis College of Art in Los Angeles. In 2002, she started her wine industry career and discovered the intrigue of using wine as a palette. Her paintings showcase wine in the form of vineyards, grape clusters and portraits. Since 2003, Larner has collaborated with Artiste Winery, also in Los Olivos, for in solo exhibits and more than nine wine labels featuring her art.
Along with local painters’ and photographers’ pieces, Los Olivos General Store offers repurposed furnishings and decor, including pieces crafted from wine barrel staves, such as candle holders, baskets and Lazy Susans, and vintage goods such as 1930s Depression glass, blue mason jars and old soda crates.
In addition, the store has a line of old wine bottles turned into both glassware and jewelry, which Michael Larner describes as “very green and appropriate for wine country.”
Local food items include honey, olives, olive oil and chocolate, as well as lavender products from Clairmont Farms and lotions and soaps from the Grapeseed Company of Santa Barbara.