About lesliedinaberg

When she's not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Leslie Dinaberg writes feature articles, columns and grocery lists.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

This weekend is the 36th Anniversary of Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival on Saturday, April 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the beautiful River Park in Lompoc (CA-246 & Sweeney Rd., Lompoc).

The festival is a wonderful opportunity to taste a prestigious list of wines from more than 100 local wineries and savor delicious bites from a bevy of local foragers, farmers, and restaurants. In addition to the beautiful setting, there’s also live music and culinary demos throughout the day, as well as Bubba, the prized Parker Ranch bull of The Bear and Star, the excellent Los Olivos restaurant specializing in “refined ranch cuisine” that is intrinsically intertwined with the 714-acre Fess Parker Home Ranch.

Festival attendees will have the opportunity to meet Bubba and learn how the team at The Bear and Star and its celebrated Chef John Cox sources farm to table from their own ranch, including fresh produce, wagyu beef, chicken, rabbit, and duck. Alongside that, The Bear and Star will get your mouth watering with their 30’ smoker where they will showcase Smoked Wagyu Beef Albondigas with Guajillo Chile and Queso Fresco.

Bubba is the prized Parker Ranch bull of The Bear and Star, a Los Olivos restaurant offering a “refined ranch cuisine” that is intrinsically intertwined with the 714 acre Fess Parker Home Ranch. Courtesy photo.

Bubba is the prized Parker Ranch bull of The Bear and Star, a Los Olivos restaurant offering a “refined ranch cuisine” that is intrinsically intertwined with the 714 acre Fess Parker Home Ranch. Courtesy photo.

Additional food purveyors include:


555 Bar and Lounge “By Marriott”
Bara’s Fresh Almond Pate
Biker Spice
Black Bow Sweets
Bottlest Winery, Bar & Bistro
Brasserie Solera
California Coast Naturals
Cattaneo Brothers
Cecco Ristorante
Central Coast Specialty Foods
Frankland’s Crab & Co.
Heritage Fine Meats & Sausage
Hippy Pop
Hitching Post II
il Fustino
Imlakesh Organics
Industrial Eats & New West Catering
Jessica Foster Confections
Le Sorelle Imports
Leonardo’s Cucina Italiana
Lori’s Lemonade
Los Olivos Olive Oil and Olive House
LunaOlivo
Mesa Salsa Company
Quality Time Dinner
Santa Barbara Popcorn Co.
Santa Rita Organic Farm
SB Paella Catering
Scratch Kitchen & Bar
Solvang Olive Press
Succulent Café
Suro Cha Inc
Three Flies On A Knife
Valle Eatery
Valley Grind Coffee
Winfield Farm

Some of the tasty bites available at the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival. Courtesy photos.

Some of the tasty bites available at the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival. Courtesy photos.

Participating wineries include:

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Ampelos cellars
​Au Bon Climat
Babcock Winer & Vineyards
Baehner Fournier
Bernat Winery
Bien Nacido & Solomon HIlls
Brander Vineyard
​Brewer-Clifton
Bottlest
Brick Barn Wine Estate 
​Bridlewood Estate Winery
Brophy Clark Cellars
Buttonwood Farm Winery
Ca’ Del Grevino Estate and Winery
Carr Winery
Casa Dumetz
Clos Pepe Estate
Cambria Winery
Chamisal Vineyards
Cnagy wines
Coquelicot Estate Wines
CrossHatch Winery
Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards
Dragonette Cellars
Ferguson Crest
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
Fiddlehead Cellars
Flying Goat Cellars
FOXEN and foxen 7200
Gainey Vineyard
Grace & Vine
Grassini Family Vineyards
​Hilliard Bruce
Hitching Post Wines
Imagine Wine
Jaffurs Wine Cellars
Jamie Slone Wines
J. Wilkes
Kaena Wine Company
Ken Brown Wines
Lafond
Lieu Dit Winery
Lions Peak Vineyards
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
Lumen Wines
Malene Wines
Margerum Wine Company
Martian Ranch & Vineyard
Melville Winery
Montemar Wines
Municipal Winemakers
Nielson
​Pence Vineyards & Winery
Presqu’ile
​Qupé Wine Cellars
Rancho Sisquoc
Refugio Ranch Vineyards
Riverbench
Roblar Winery
Rusack Vineyards
​Samsara
​Sanford Winery & Vineyards
Santa Barbara Winery
Spear
Stolpman Vineyards
Sweetzer Cellars
Temperance Cellars
​The Central Coast Group Project
Toccata wines
Toretti Family Vineyard 
Tyler Winery
Zaca Mesa Winery

This year’s festival also includes the Bubble Lounge, a unique and playful opportunity to enjoy a bubble machine and DIY bubble bottles! Sip on world-class bubbles while you blow some bubbles into the wind to melt your cares away. The line-up includes:

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
Flying Goat Cellars
Imagine Wine
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
Municipal Winemakers
Pence Vineyards & Winery
Riverbench Winery
Sanford Winery & Vineyards

The Rent Party Blues, one of the top blues bands in California, performs alongside another local favorite, The Bryan Titus Trio.

Can’t get enough of Santa Barbara County wines? This weekend you can also visit up to 12 tasting rooms on an all-inclusive wine tasting pass with a Vintners Visa Wine Country Tasting Pass  for unique and complimentary offerings at your choice of twelve participating tasting rooms from Thursday – Monday.  Over 40+ wineries and tasting rooms are participating in this program. An opportunity that is truly unsurpassable.

Need a bit more incentive? The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation also has a silent auction that benefits the Enology/viticulture program at Allan Hancock College (hancockcollege.edu ) as well as DirectRelief.org  and its medical relief activities at home and around the globe. Local vintners are digging deep into their cellars as well as creating unique private events to compile an unprecedented offering of auction lots for this year’s Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Silent Auction. Only Vintners Festival Grand Tasting attendees will have access to the array of unique wine lots including over two dozen impressive large format bottles such as a double magnum of Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills and a 5 Liter bottle of Qupe 2013 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard “Hillside” Estate.  Among the one-of-a-kind collections will be a 6 bottle sampler displayed in an engraved wooden box from Kenneth Volk Vineyards. Bidders will also be able to access private events including a private tour and tasting for 4 at Presqu’ile Winery’s beautiful hilltop winery overlooking the Santa Maria Valley and a private vineyard tour, tasting and lunch for 4 at Martian Ranch & Vineyard. Proceeds from the silent auction will provide scholarships for two Allan Hancock Enology/viticulture students as well as a grant to the Enology/viticulture department.

“In addition, this year we are working to raise money to support Direct Relief in the replenishment of their First Responder Backpacks. Participants will have an opportunity to donate directly towards the items to fill these kits, many of which were used during Direct Relief’s response to the Thomas fire and Montecito mudslide in recent months. Visiting the Silent Auction pavilion is a great way to get your hands on some great wines as well as support the community,” says Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation President, Elaina Kroll. 

For more information about the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, go to sbvf.org.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit sbvintnersweekend.com.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 19, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: The Compendium of Alcohol Ingredients and Processes

Photo by Isabella Mendes, courtesy Pexels.com.

Photo by Isabella Mendes, courtesy Pexels.com.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

Have you ever wondered about the origins of what’s in your glass?

Here’s a fun infographic from winebags.com, The Compendium of Alcohol Ingredients and Processes, which provides an overview of how alcohol is made around the world.

Some fun facts: Mead, a favorite beverage of the Renaissance Faire crowd, actually originated in China, and beer has its origins in Egypt. The Swiss created absinthe, which has 60% alcohol content and is known for causing hallucinations.

 

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 13, 2018.

Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour

Young patrons at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

Young patrons at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

This weekend is a rare chance for the public to peek inside Carpinteria Valley greenhouses, where millions of flowers of every color stretch as far as the eye can see. The sheer volume and beauty make a trip to the Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour a breathtaking experience.

The free tours are on Saturday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., guided by expert farmers who will share a wealth of knowledge of greenhouse growing.

Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

“The environment inside our greenhouses is tightly controlled. We monitor everything from nutrients to temperature, light and moisture at each phase of growth,” says Toine Overgaag, President of Westerlay Orchids, a Greenhouse Tour participant. “My family has been doing this for decades, and I’m still fascinated.”

Opening its doors for the 10th annual tours, Westerlay will also continue its tradition of community support over the entire week preceding the event, April 9 to April 14. Carpinteria Education Foundation, the nonprofit supporting public schools in Carpinteria, will receive 100% of proceeds from orchids sold at Westerlay’s showroom during this period. 

Carpinteria Valley, known as “America’s Flower Basket,” has long been central to domestic flower production. It contains the greatest concentration of growers in the U.S. and represents the best-of-the-best in the field. Dozens of Dutch farmers chose to relocate to the ideal climate of Carpinteria generations ago and helped to create a lasting and successful industry.

Tour attendees can start and stop at any point on their self-guided tour around Carpinteria Valley. Maps of participating growers are at http://www.carpinteriafarmtours.com/map.

Each participating greenhouse will plan its own special attractions for the day of the event, and many will offer discounts on the freshest flowers, directly from the source. In addition to Westerlay, participating farms include: 

Gallup & Stribling Orchids

MOBI’s

Myriad Flowers

Pianta Bella Nursery

Seaside Gardens

Spring blooms at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

Spring blooms at the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour, courtesy photo.

For more information, visit carpinteriafarmtours.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published on April 12, 2018 in Santa Barbara Seasons.

Poetry as Portraiture: Adam Zagajewski and Andrew Winer

Courtesy SBMA.

Courtesy SBMA.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art presents Poetry as Portraiture: Adam Zagajewski and Andrew Winer on Sunday, April 15 at 2:30 p.m. in the Mary Craig Auditorium (SBMA, 1130 State St., Santa Barbara). (Note: Please enter through the Museum Store or Park entrance during the current renovation project.)

Prize-winning, globally-admired poet Adam Zagajewski writes with precision and wonder about the calm and courage of ordinary life. He says of poetry that it “is like a human face—it is an object that can be measured, described, catalogued, but it is also an appeal.” His most recent book, Slight Exaggeration, is a blend of memoir, essay, and anecdote, and in which he defines poetry as “a slight exaggeration, until we make ourselves at home in it. Then it becomes the truth.” Zagajewski is interviewed by fellow writer, friend, novelist, and Chair of the UC Riverside writing program Andrew Winer. Book signing to follow.

This special presentation is part of SBMA’s Parallel Stories series, a literary and performing arts series that pairs art and artists with award-winning authors and performers of regional, national, and international acclaim. This series functions as a multidisciplinary lens through which to view the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions.

The event is free for SBMA Members, $10 for non-Members and $6 for seniors. Tickets may be purchased at  the Museum Visitor Services desk or online at tickets.sbma.net.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 14, 2018.

The Invisible Hand

Ensemble Theatre's production of The Invisible Hand, April 12-29. Courtesy photo.

Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Invisible Hand, April 12-29. Courtesy photo.

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) (in a co-production with the English Theatre Frankfurt) presents a witty and provocative new thriller, The Invisible Hand, written by Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) and directed by Jonathan Fox. The Invisible Hand begins previews on Thursday, April 12, opens on Saturday, April 14, and runs through Sunday, April 29 at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara. The production will then transfer to the English Theatre Frankfurt on May 9.

Set in Pakistan, American investment banker Nick Bright is kidnapped by an extremist organization and held for a $10 million ransom. When his company refuses to meet the terrorists’ demands, Bright convinces his captors that he can manipulate the stock market to meet his own ransom. Capitalism intersects with Islamic fanaticism in a race against time in this heart-pounding thriller by the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Akhtar.

John Tufts and Mujahid Abdul-Rashid in ETC's production of "The Invisible Hand," photo by David Bazemore.

John Tufts and Mujahid Abdul-Rashid in ETC’s production of “The Invisible Hand,” photo by David Bazemore.

“Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar is one of the most compelling writers working today and we are so fortunate to be presenting this high-voltage thriller,” says Ensemble Theatre Company Artistic Director Jonathan Fox. “Our subscribers and audiences are in for quite the ride as money and religious devotion collide with devastating consequences.  We’re delighted that it brings a great cast to Santa Barbara, and to once again partner with the English Theatre of Frankfurt.”

John Tufts, who wowed area audiences in ETC’s 2016 production of I Am My Own Wife (a production that transferred to Laguna Playhouse), returns to Santa Barbara to play the role of Nick Bright. He recently played multiple roles in an acclaimed New York production of Pride and Prejudice. Jameal Ali, who plays the volatile Pakistani kidnapper Bashir, starred in the original New York production.  Rounding out the cast are Mujahid Abdul-Rashid and Sarang Sharma.

There are several special events and promotions associated with the production:

  • Book Club, April 18, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.: Scripts are now available for checkout at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St. Join other theatre-goers for a lively discussion about the play from a literary and dramatic perspective. FREE! 
  • Pre-Show Talk, April 18 & 25,  at 7:15 p.m.: Join guests in the courtyard of The New Vic for an informative and insightful discussion about the play before you see it, sure to enhance your theatrical experience.
  • Martini Night, April  20, at 7:15 p.m., performance at 8 p.m.: Free to ticket holders. Come early to enjoy a complimentary martini and mingle before the show.
  • Talk Back, April 26: Meet the cast after the show and discuss the production.

Tickets are available here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 11, 2018.

UCSB Arts Walk

UCSB’s Department of MusicDepartment of Theater and DanceDepartment of ArtCollege of Creative StudiesArt, Design & Architecture MuseumMultiCultural Center and Library to host an open house of visual & performing arts

UCSB presents the inaugural UCSB Arts Walk on Wednesday, April 11, from 4:30-8 p.m. at various locations across the campus. The event gives students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to visit galleries and studios, watch preview performances and behind-the-scenes rehearsals, and participate in programming designed to highlight the artistic creativity and talent of the UCSB community. Best of all, everything is free of charge.

The Art, Design, & Architecture Museum has several exhibitions on display, including Chiura Obata: An American Modern, UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change, Jane Gottlieb Photographs France, and Keith Puccinelli. In addition, the museum hosts a Kitchell Architecture and Design lecture at 6 p.m., featuring UCSB Associate Campus Architect, Dennis Whelan. Whelan recounts the history of UC Santa Barbara campus planning and design, in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Highlights from the Department of Music include an open rehearsal of a faculty duet featuring cellist Jennifer Kloetzel and pianist Robert Koenig, plus performances by members of the Chamber Choir, Music of India Ensemble, Flute Choir, Jazz Combos, Middle East Ensemble, Chamber Players, Clarinet Choir, Gamelan Ensemble, and more. Guests can interact directly with performers during Q&A sessions following several of the events, such as a performance of scenes from UCSB Opera Theatre’s February production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and composition graduate student Brandon J. Rolle’s electro-acoustic music exhibition.

The Department of Theater and Dance also presents a wide variety of performances, open rehearsals, and exhibitions, including an open rehearsal for the department’s upcoming production of Cabaret (May 25-June 3), as well as performances by UCSB Dance BFA students in outdoor spaces surrounding the Theater and Dance buildings. The UCSB Dance Company and Freshmen Dance Company presents a special concert in the Old Ballet Studio (HSSB), while exhibitions showcasing puppets and work by UCSB Design students are also on display. Interactive playwright showcase stations will give guests the unique opportunity to work with student playwrights to compose novelty pieces on the spot.

On view from the Department of Art are multiple exhibitions of student work in the Art Building #534 and at the Red Barn Project Space in the Old Gym, Building #479, (near the bus loop by the Pollock Theater). Highlights include an exhibit of senior artwork in the GlassBox Gallery in Arts 1328, and from 7 p.m. on, Windows—a sampler of videos from Maya Gurantz’s “Intermediate Digital Video” class projected from the second story windows of Arts 2220, overlooking the bike path. In the Red Barn Project Space, UCSB Womanhouse Collective presents SHE-DEN, an intersectional, multi-media group exhibit exploring the place of women in contemporary art and culture.

The MultiCultural Center’s lounge features an exhibition by UCSB graduate student Andrew Morrison, entitled “Indian Heritage,” a Native American art exhibition that compliments his film, Great Walls of Indian Heritage. This exhibit speaks to all walks of life, its genesis is from the red road, and the American Indian Student Association inspires its vitality. The exhibit is on display in the MultiCultural Center Lounge through June 15, with an opening reception on April 12 at 6 p.m.

The College of Creative Studies (CCS), which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary during the current academic year, offers a glimpse into the work of the College’s Art, Music Composition, and Writing and Literature students in the CCS Gallery and the Old Little Theater. An exhibition of student artwork fills the CCS Gallery, while the Old Little Theater’s programming includes performances of Music Composition students’ original pieces as well as readings from Writing & Literature students and faculty.

Event link: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/artswalk

Directions and parking information: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/directions-parking

Campus map: http://www.aw.id.ucsb.edu/maps/ucsbmap.html

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 9, 2018.

 

Style File: Coachella Inspiration

Bassnectar's traditional "family photo" taken at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2013, by Drew Ressler, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Bassnectar’s traditional “family photo” taken at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2013, by Drew Ressler, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

To everything there’s a season, and in the California style scene, Coachella musical festival marks the beginning of warm weather style inspiration. Sure,  it’s a ginormous music festival—but it’s also the place where performers, celebs, and concert-goers alike debut their super-stylish looks.

The Jewelry Junkie, courtesy photo.

The Jewelry Junkie, courtesy photo.

Here’s a little bit of Coachella spring/summer inspiration:

The Jewelry Junkie is female-operated, 100% handcrafted in the U.S. brand offering jewelry pieces that are unique, stylish and affordable.  Boho meets elegance with these handcrafted, southern-inspired collections. Whether you prefer statement pieces or dainty touches, The Jewelry Junkie collections have earrings, necklaces, chokers, rings, bracelets and more. Plus, each piece has a unique touch of leather, gemstones, and beads. In addition, The Jewelry Junkie donates more than 10% of all net proceeds of every sale to local and international charities. 

Agabhumi charms from Bali, courtesy photo.

Agabhumi charms from Bali, courtesy photo.

We love these empowering charms from Agabhumi’s hip, designer collection of impeccably-crafted jewelry imported straight from Bali.  Each piece evokes the Indonesian island vibe and collaboration with the artisans of Bali. Co-founder Regina Kirshbaum created this collection to remind us of our power within, these Agabhumi charms provide a perfect message for the feel good festival. 

By Lilla hair ties that double as bracelets, courtesy photo.

By Lilla hair ties that double as bracelets, courtesy photo.

Warmer weather means getting your hair off your neck, which is even easier—and prettier—when you have a stack of By Lilla designs on your arm. A brilliantly simple idea, hair ties that double as beautiful bracelets, these babies are functional yet fashionable. And you can easily stack them up to share with your friends. 

Tonle calf length vest, courtesy photo.

Tonle calf length vest, courtesy photo.

Every thread matters at tonlé, a zero-waste fashion brand that is one-of-a-kind. The reduce, reuse and recycle ethos makes its way into the fashion world with this Cambodia-based clothing line. The sustainable styles of tonlé use remnants discarded by large manufacturers and create beautiful, comfortable clothes, without wasting a single scrap in the process! In just one year, this bold brand has saved 10,000kg of textiles, 70,000kg of CO2, 200kg of pesticides, and 42,296,600 gallons of water—and they’re just getting started. Check out the calf-length vest, hand-woven from a curated mix of remnant cotton jersey and cotton yarn for a great warm weather throw on piece. No two pieces will be exactly the same, making your look truly one-of-a-kind.

Renpure Black Line Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist, courtesy photo.

Renpure Black Line Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist, courtesy photo.

Keep your hair in tip-top condition and lay the foundation for healthy, nourished hair with Renpure products, like Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist, a great portable option for adding softness and shine. Part of their Black Label Coconut collection, this mist utilizes the innate properties of rich and creamy coconut oil to give sun and product damaged hair the hydrating drink it needs to appear healthier and younger, while controlling frizz and preventing breakage and split ends. 

Naked Truth Beauty products, courtesy photo.

Naked Truth Beauty products, courtesy photo.

Outdoor music festivals are the perfect place to let your natural beauty shine. When chemical and toxic ingredients just aren’t gonna cut it—keep it green and clean with Naked Truth Beauty products.   This socially responsible beauty, the eco-friendly line takes the guess work out of choosing safe products by using only simple, high quality ingredients that are from the earth—stripped down for your skin. Stylish lip and cheek all-in-one colors like “as if,” “promise me, rose,” and “Beauregarde” offer great versatility, as well as products you can feel good about using. 

The 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival begins on Friday, April 13 and ends on Sunday, April 22, with headliners including Beyonce, The Weeknd and Eminem, among many, many others. For complete details, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 9, 2018.

 

Cocktail Corner: Visiting Spear Vineyards & Winery

Spear Winery & Vineyard view from the vineyard, photo by Blakeney Sanford.

Spear Winery & Vineyard view from the vineyard, photo by Blakeney Sanford.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

Created within the footprint and roofline of the original Domingos Dairy Barn built in the 1920’s, stepping into Spear Vineyards & Winery‘s brand new winery and hospitality center feels like you’re stepping back into the history of the property and the soil itself. 

Spear Winery Owner & Vigneron Ofer Shepher at harvest time, photo by Bottle Branding.

Spear Winery Owner & Vigneron Ofer Shepher at harvest time, photo by Bottle Branding.

Last week’s vineyard tour and tasting and was quite a treat. Guided by Vigneron Ofer Shepher, who first planted his Spear Vineyards vines in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation 2014, with 33 organically farmed acres along the Hwy. 246 corridor, the property—which overlooks Buellton and Lompoc, and is about 1,000 acres in total, mostly inhabited by Black Angus Cattle and cows—is nothing short of stunning.

Weekend camping trips to the Santa Ynez Valley first sparked Shepher’s keen interest in wine and winemaking and propelled his 2005 move and eventual lease of the historic Gnesa Ranch next door to the Spear property. 

Spear Winery's Vineyard view, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Spear Winery’s Vineyard view, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

He minored in agricultural mechanics in college, and despite a long career in the medical device industry, he’s always remained interested in agriculture. Shepher says that he spent childhood summers in Israel, working on the kibbutz his mother grew up on and learning about farming.  

Gnesa Ranch sold grapes exclusively to Brewer-Clifton Wines, until 2014. When it came time to develop Spear, Shepher hired the renowned Greg Brewer as consulting winemaker and they worked closely together to plant the vineyards and design the wine production facility, a gravity-based system devised to minimize damage to the fruit.

Spear Winery Winemaker Kat Gaffney, courtesy photo.

Spear Winery Winemaker Kat Gaffney, courtesy photo.

Mentored by Brewer, who hired her as Associate Winemaker, Kathleen “Kat” Gaffney was promoted to Winemaker in January after spending the last several years working at notable California wineries between harvests in Oregon and New Zealand.

Dedicated to sustainability, the winery’s in-house farmed, viticulture practices don’t use inorganic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Both Gaffney and Shepher say the goal at Spear is to let the grapes and vineyard shine, making wine that is a true reflection of the place those grapes come from.

Spear Winery & Vineyard at sunrise, photo by Blakeney Sanford.

Spear Winery & Vineyard at sunrise, photo by Blakeney Sanford.

Spear—which is the Americanized version of “Shepher”—released its debut vintage in the fall and currently produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The 2016 Spear Estate Chardonnay is a perfect ode to spring. With 15 acres planted to Pinot Noir, the winery’s first vintage, the 2016 Spear Estate Pinot Noir is a lovely expression of the famed Sta. Rita Hills appellation. We also enjoyed the classic cool climate 2016 Spear Estate Syrah. 

Grüner Veltliner (an ode to Shepher’s German ancestry) and Grenache Noir are also planted, so look for those wines sometime in the future as well.

Inside Spear Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Inside Spear Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Vineyard tours and tastings at Spear are offered by appointment only, to truly offer a unique soil to glass experience.  “We want to offer a real vineyard tasting experience,” says Shepher. Vineyard tastings and winery visits are available daily, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment only.  To make a reservation, call 805/737-1829, email visit@spearwinery.com or book online with this link.

In addition, Spear is now offering a limited number of wine club memberships. For more information, click here.

Wine barrel inside Spear Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Wine barrel inside Spear Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Spear Winery, back view, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Spear Winery, back view, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Spear Winery & Vineyard view from the driveway, photo by Blakeney Sanford.

Spear Winery & Vineyard view from the driveway, photo by Blakeney Sanford.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 6, 2018.

Phoebe Brunner: Breathe

Phoebe Brunner, "Silver Threads," oil on canvas, 30 x 54."

Phoebe Brunner, “Silver Threads,” oil on canvas, 30 x 54.”

Sullivan Goss Gallery presents new work by acclaimed local artist Phoebe Brunner in her second solo exhibition for the gallery, titled “Breathe.” The show opens April 5, with a 1st Thursday reception from 5-8 p.m.

The gallery describes Brunner’s latest body of vibrant work as “connecting to the earth around us as it regenerates from a long lack of rain. Poppies explode, scattering their seeds to the wind for the next season of flowers. Roads lead through winding hills verdant with fresh grass. Clouds settle in to canyons to coat the hills with moisture. While her views are primarily imaginative, we are drawn to them by sense of memory for a place we have visited or more accurately, the familiarity of worlds we have wandered in our dreams. This remarkable group of paintings reminds us to take a collective breath. Spring is coming, bringing regeneration and a continuation of nature’s endless cycle.”

Phoebe Brunner, "Rain, Happy Hour," oil on canvas, 30 x 22."

Phoebe Brunner, “Rain, Happy Hour,” oil on canvas, 30 x 22.”

Brunner earned a BFA from UCSB and trained at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute and the University of Guadalajara. She has been exhibiting in the Santa Barbara area for 40 years and brings a local’s knowledge of the terrain together with a visionary artist’s sense of interpretation.

The exhibition remains on view at Sullivan Goss Gallery, 11 E. Anapamu St., through June 3. For more information, visit www.sullivangoss.com or www.facebook.com/sullivan.goss or call 805/730-1460.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 4, 2018.

Local Lowdown: Flip Your Disk at Cachuma Lake

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Add flipping frisbees to the long list of fun recreational activities of­fered at Cachuma Lake, which now has an 18-hole championship level disc golf course! The 2.25-mile course is designed to challenge both newbies and experts, with multiple basket positions available to make the course different each time you play.

This rapidly growing sport—disc golf is the 4th fastest-growing sport in United States, behind MMA, Roller Derby and Parkour, according to parkeddiscgolf.org—has rules that are similar to golf, with a set course and baskets set up as targets. Players seek to complete the course—which begins and ends in front of Cachuma Store—in the lowest number of total throws.

Play is free with a $10 parking fee. Cachuma Lake is located off scenic Hwy. 154 in Santa Barbara County.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit countyofsb.org/parks/cachuma.sbc.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.