From the Vine

BY LAURIE JERVIS
EDITOR

Mr. Picky is, well, picky.

Years ago, a friend of David Mallen nicknamed the Santa Barbara resident “Mr. Picky,” and the name stuck.

Now Mallen is making a name for himself as Mr. Picky via his year-old company, the website www. mr-picky. com, which Apple’s iPhone chose as one of its phone’s thousands of applications.

The caricature on the site and application is one created by a friend from a photograph of Mallen, making a Mr. Picky-style face while sipping a glass of wine.

Mr. Picky, like many wine blogs ,is part information and part opinion. As Mr. Picky, Mallen writes about his favorite wineries and restaurants in Santa Barbara city and county, Paso Robles and the Temecula area, as well as his favorite wines. Included are wines of the month and week, wines under $10 and news about happenings in the local wine world.

“We really wanted to do an app for iPhone for Santa Barbara, as we’ve been tasting wine here for more than 20 years, ”Mallen said. “We’re trying to be a local source about wine. ”

While including Temecula wineries along with those in Santa Barbara County might seem far-fetched to some, Mr Picky’s home page is billed as “California Wine Tasting iPhone Applications, Santa Barbara Food and Wine Blog. ”

Besides, the local wine industry in Temecula “is popular, and the volume of people tasting there is astounding,” Patti Mallen noted, adding that a particular winery in that region often sees as many as 1,200 visitors per day.

(For more information on wine tasting in the Temecula area, visit The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association: www. temecula wines. org)

The Mallens will continue to focus their efforts on the sprawling wine region located between Los Angeles and Paso Robles, but eventually want to expand coverage to include Oregon and Texas — especially Austin, where iPhone use is high because of that city’s hot music scene.

“Texas has 180 wineries across the state, and there are 30 in Austin,”David Mallen said.

They hope to feature Sonoma County and Napa Valley wineries and eateries, as well, since “Napa is second only to Disneyland” in terms of volume of visitors, Patti Mallen said.

Mr. Picky the application has gotten users from as far away as Europe and Canada (”Our developer is in Canada. ”), Patti Mallen said.

Their application is 99 cents to download to an iPhone, she explained; of that fee, the Mallens earn 50 cents. While that is but a tiny commission, the couple hopes per-phone downloads will continue to increase exponentially.

Mr. Picky includes favorite restaurants and wineries, a page for users’feedback, and an extensive directory to Santa Barbara County wineries.

It offers Google maps, winery information listed alphabetically by winery, and the handy “near me”feature that details winery locations by coordinates. In addition, Mr. Picky highlights those wineries that starred in the movie “Sideways”via a “S” by the listing, Patti Mallen said.

For us, Mr. Picky “is a labor of love,” she said.

That helps the two stay abreast of the continual information updates the application’s database requires, since both continue to work full-time jobs — she as a commercial property manager for the Muller Company, based in Orange County, and David Mallen as a web and graphic artist for UCSB’s extension program.

“The trick for us is getting enough time off to do this project,” but luckily “we never get tired of wine tasting,” Patti Mallen smiled.