Cocktail Corner: Wine Country Weekend

Courtesy Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association.

Courtesy Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

President’s Day Weekend is also Wine Country Weekend from February 15-18 in Santa Ynez Valley.

Put on by the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association, this four-day event is a great way to spend your long weekend.

The 13 participating tasting rooms include:

Solvang

Buttonwood Farm Winery (also celebrating the release of their NEW 2018 Grenache Rosé and Syrah Rosé)

Casa Cassara 

Carivintâs

 

Lincourt Vineyards

Courtesy Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association.

Courtesy Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association.

Los Olivos

Alexander & Wayne

Arthur Earl

Ca’ Del Grevino

Dreamcôte Wine Company

Santa Ynez

Kalyra Winery

Courtesy Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association.

Courtesy Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association.

Buellton

Alma Rosa

Buscador

Imagine Wine

tierra y vino

For the past 15 years, Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association has put on this event. “Many Guests return every year to taste and purchase our wines as well as have great food and fun with other fellow wine lovers, ” says Ross Rankin, the association president.

“Our 13 wineries employ many from our community. New and returning guests learn about our boutique wineries and the wonderful and unusual wines we produce from Santa Barbara County. Purchasing passes for this wonderful weekend help to allow our family winery traditions to continue,” he says. 

Tickets are $65 and include tastings at each winery, complimentary small bites, a signature wine glass and wine tote. In addition, Saturday shuttle passes are available for $19 each. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here

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, blog posts and lots and lots of lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes that variety is the spice of life.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 15, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Winter Wine Walk

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

This weekend (Sunday Feb. 10, from 3-6 p.m.), is the Santa Barbara Winter Wine Walk, where guests have the opportunity for an exclusive wine and food pairing experience at the fabulous wine tasting rooms of Jamie Slone Wines, Happy Canyon Vineyard, August Ridge Vineyards and Sanford Winery.

This special event is limited to just 50 guests who will check-in and begin their experience at any of the venues, all of which are in walking distance to the others in downtown Santa Barbara.

MaxPixel courtesy photo.

MaxPixel courtesy photo.

Wine and Food Pairing Experiences Include:

Jamie Slone Wines – Enjoy a tasting of two wines, perfectly paired with delicious chocolates from Chocolats Du Calibressan. Delish! 23 E. De la Guerra St.

Happy Canyon Vineyard – Sip on one white Barrack Blanc and one red Piocho Red Blend, paired with chocolate covered strawberries! 30 El Paseo

August Ridge Vineyards – Wine and Cheese! Cheese and Wine! Enjoy two Italian varietal wines paired delightfully with two distinct cheeses. 5 E. Figueroa St.

Sanford Winery – Enjoy a glass of 2014 sparkling wine and a sampling of local artisan popcorn. 1114 State St., Suite 26.

Tickets are $48 and may be purchased on eventbrite at this link.

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, blog posts and lots and lots of lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes that variety is the spice of life.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 8, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Cheers to Wine & Spirits at SBIFF

SBIFF 2018, photo courtesy Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation.

SBIFF 2018, photo courtesy Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Guests at the 34th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF)—which runs from Wednesday, January 30 through Saturday, February 9 in downtown Santa Barbara—will get an extra warm welcome from our local winemakers.

Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation is sponsoring the festival and providing wine at nightly Filmmaker’s Happy Hours and post tribute Studio Parties from member wineries, including Au Bon Climat, Brander Vineyard, Brewer-Clifton, Brick Barn Wine Estate, Cambria Estate Vineyards, Folded Hills, Hitching Post Wines, Mail Road Wines, Margerum Wine Company, Nielson Winery, Pence Vineyards & Winery and Temperance Cellars.

“This is the second year the Vintners Foundation has sponsored SBIFF and we are proud to continue our support for this showcase for filmmaking and the community education programs that SBIFF organizes throughout the year for local students,” says Katy Rogers, president of Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, the charitable umbrella under which Santa Barbara Vintners conducts its philanthropic work.

At the Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, January 30 in Paseo Nuevo, the wines of Brewer-Clifton, Cambria Estate Vineyards and Nielson will be served.  The Gala follows a showing of the film Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike DeGruy at the Arlington Theatre.

Belvedere Vodka bar at SBIFF 2018. Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF.

Belvedere Vodka bar at SBIFF 2018. Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF.

Belvedere Vodka will also be on hand as the sole liquor sponsor of the 34th annual festival, serving signature cocktails like the Belvedere Classic Martini and Belvedere Expresso Martini, among others. Belvedere is the official sponsor of the Cinema Vanguard Award honoring Michael B. Jordan on February 7, where the brand—named “Vodka Producer of the Year” three times in a row by the International Spirits Challenge—will spotlight its “Beautiful to see. Beautiful to experience.” campaign.

Tickets for all festival events and film screenings, are available at sbiff.org. Hope to see you there. Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 30, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Garagiste Wine Festival

Garagiste Festival 2017, courtesy photo.

Garagiste Festival 2017, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Recently named “America’s Best Wine Festival” by USA Today, the Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang February 8 – 10. “Garagistes” (pronounced garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. 

Showcasing the wines of some of California’s best small production winemakers, the seventh anniversary festival has a number of different components, including the popular “‘Original Garagiste” seminar, featuring Central Coast winemaking legend Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines interviewed by Garagiste Festival Co-founder and KRUSH radio host, Stewart McLennan.

“We are proud to lead off our main event with a one-on-one discussion and tasting with Ken Brown—a true original ‘garagiste’ many years before micro-production winemaking became a movement,’ says McLennan.  “Ken was one of the first to recognize the cool climate potential of this region back in the 70s and to craft delicious wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay right here in Santa Barbara. We are looking forward to an informative and inspiring conversation as we taste some of his delicious wines.” 

Brown’s winery, Ken Brown Wines, focuses on very small lots of Pinot Noir from the finest vineyards of Sta. Rita Hills. Recognized as one of Santa Barbara County’s pioneering winemakers and innovators, he was the founding winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery and spent 20 years at Byron Winery as well. Not only was Ken Brown among the first vintners to realize the tremendous promise for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Santa Barbara County, he was also the first winemaker to introduce the Syrah grape, as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, to the region. The “Original Garagiste” seminar runs from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 9 and will focus on how he helped shape the Santa Barbara wine scene and why he ultimately returned to small-lot winemaking. 

Winemaker Ken Brown leads off the 2019 Garagiste Festival with a one-on-one discussion and tasting. Photo by Rocco Ceselin, courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Winemaker Ken Brown leads off the 2019 Garagiste Festival with a one-on-one discussion and tasting. Photo by Rocco Ceselin, courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Dubbed a “tasting nirvana,” “strange and wondrous” and “one not to miss” by the Los Angeles Times, the Garagiste Festival is renowned for its renegade spirit, passionate winemakers, handcrafted wines and rules-breaking, anti-snobby ethos. The wines are poured directly by their makers, and it’s definitely one of the most fun—and accessible—festivals to talk to winemakers about their passion projects. 

In many cases the winemakers are employed by larger wineries but showcase their own, lovingly crafted, small batch concoctions at the Garagiste Festival. For example, Marisa Matela Beverly is Owner/Winemaker of Bevela Wines (which will be showcased at the festival), but has also been working with Au Bon Climat, Qupe and Verdad wineries since 2008.

“Under these two pioneers of Santa Barbara county wine, I try to soak up as much knowledge as I can,” says Beverly. “Over the years, this has helped fine tune my palate and path in winemaking. I am allowed all the freedom I want when it comes to the production of my wines. This helps keep Bevela Wines unique and very boutique.  The best example of influence and yet freedom is my barrel aging regime.  I saw and tasted what extended aging can do for certain Italian varieties, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to use this technique.  It is not the most cost effective—and takes a lot of floor space—but the end results are undeniable, it is worth it!”

Guests can taste those end results on Friday, February 8 at the popular “No Repeats, Rare & Reserve,” tasting, where attendees can get up close and personal with the winemakers as they share limited Club Only, Library and Pre-Release bottles and Barrel samples, and enjoy a BBQ buffet from local favorite Neighbor Tim’s BBQ.

Bevela is pouring a library selection of the Matela Teroldego (the 2010 vintage) as well as the current release (the 2012 vintage).  “We also have a special selection of 2014 Presqu’ile Syrah, only bottled in magnum and only available to our allocation list.  This wine is our silent auction item on Saturday,” says Beverly, who will be pouring her  2017 “Fractured Emergence” Chardonnay, 2012 “Matela” Teroldego, 2015 “Old Fashioned Superstition” Syrah, and 2015 “Unforeseen Alchemy” Red Blend at the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, February 9.

The Grand Tasting runs from 2-5 p.m. showcasing over 40 winemakers pouring 150+ wines and 20+ unique varieties. Among the winemakers scheduled to pour are: Ascension Cellars, Bevela Wines, Blatty, Bodega de Edgar, Bolshoi Family Wines, Byron, Camlow Cellars, Cholame Vineyard, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Copia Vineyards, Cordon Wines, Corner Cellars, Cutruzzola Vineyards, D.Volk Wines, Dascomb Cellars, DeWit Vineyard, Dracaena Wines, Elwood Wines, Ferguson Family Winery, Golden Triangle, Greyscale Wines, Hoi Polloi Winery, Kaleidos Winery, Kimsey Vineyards, Kings Carey, Lepiane Wines, Luna Hart, Maiden Stoen, Marin’s Vineyard, MCV, Metrick Wines, Montagne Russe, Montemar Winery, Nexo, Pelletiere Estate, RF Fine Wines, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape, Sycamore Ranch, Temperance Cellars, Tercero Wines, Thomas William Fermentation Company, Torch Cellars, Volatus, and Westerly Wines

All tickets include unlimited tastes, complimentary cheese and charcuterie and a souvenir Stolzle crystal wine glass—plus a Silent Auction full of enticing wine packages which benefits The Garagiste Scholarship at Cal Poly

Dana Volk of D.Volk Wines is pouring at the Garagiste Festival, and offering special discounts to festival attendees at her nearby Solvang tasting room. Photo by Bottle Branding, courtesy D.Volk Wines.

Dana Volk of D.Volk Wines is pouring at the Garagiste Festival, and offering special discounts to festival attendees at her nearby Solvang tasting room. Photo by Bottle Branding, courtesy D.Volk Wines.

Dana Volk, Owner/Winemaker of D.Volk Wines, will be pouring on Friday (her 2016 John Sebastiano Vineyard Syrah, which is usually only available to wine club members) and Saturday. She says, “I have poured wine at many festivals in my 25 years in this business and this is by far my favorite one to show my wine at! The attendees are genuinely interested in getting to know you personally and to learn about the wines and winemaking.”

On Saturday she’ll be pouring and offering special discounts on D.Volk Wines’ 2017 Curtis Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Ynez Valley; 2017 Grenache Blanc, Dorigo Family Vineyards, Ballard Canyon; 2017 Rosé, Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley; 2015 Pinot Noir, Duvarita Vineyard, Santa Barbara County; and 2016 Hampton Family Vineyard Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley.

“There is a special place in our hearts for Solvang, and for the amazing small production winemakers who pour at this venue. Solvang, and the beautiful Veteran’s Memorial Hall, lend such a charming and intimate setting for attendees to chat and taste with the winemakers and owners who will be pouring their hard-to-find wines. We love the diversity of the wines poured here, with multiple micro-climates, grape varieties and innovative blends represented.” says Garagiste Festival cofounder Doug Minnick

With the exception of the Passport Day tastings, which take place at individual wineries and tasting rooms, all festival weekend events take place at Solvang Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 1745 Mission Dr., Solvang.

Tickets are very limited, so if you want to go, you should act now. To purchase tickets, click here. Hope to see some of you there. 

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 January 25, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Constellation Pop-Up at Hotel Californian

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Looking for something fun to do to chase those winter blues away. Why not check out the first-ever foodie, wine, mixology & indie music weekend at Hotel Californian (36 State St., Santa Barbara) from January 25-27.

“This is the first of a new quarterly weekend series that will bring inspiring culinary, musical and cultural experiences to Santa Barbara’s hip Funk Zone neighborhood,” says Niki Jenson, who represents Hotel Californian.  

Featuring chefs, indie musicians, vibey DJ beats and community vintners, this sounds like something that shouldn’t be missed. Highlights include Friday night’s “meet the makers” opening night reception with a vibey beats from Boom Forest, along with Bittercube Cocktails, Potek Wine and light bites.

There will be a Bittercube mixology class—the Seven Pillars of Classic Cocktails—on Saturday in Hotel Californian’s sexy new Djinn lobby bar. Bittercube is a Wisconsin-based line of densely flavored cocktail bitters that are created by hand with real botanicals, taking as long as 25 days to complete the process. 

As part of Hotel Californian's Constellation Pop Up Weekend, Bittercube co-founder Ira Koplowitz will host a mixology class, complete with cocktail tasting and curated snacks. Courtesy photo.

As part of Hotel Californian’s Constellation Pop Up Weekend, Bittercube co-founder Ira Koplowitz will host a mixology class, complete with cocktail tasting and curated snacks. Courtesy photo.

Saturday evening features a chef & winemaker reception and six-course dinner from Guest Chefs Justin Carlisle & Chris Mangless, featuring wines by Russel From of Herman Story (Paso Robles), Vailia Esh of Desparada (Paso Robles), and Dave Potter (who we just featured in the winter issue of Santa Barbara Seasons) of Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara).

 

Later that night (Jan. 26) is an indie pop-up concert with Langhorne Slim, Stelth Ulvang of The Lumineers and Chris Porterfield of Field Report.

Stelth Ulvang – Clocktower (live at Scandinavia) from The Sights Of Sounds on Vimeo.

And if that’s not enough excitement, Sunday features a winemaker brunch featuring wines from Dave Potter of Municipal Winemakers.

Tickets are still available, click here to access them (choose among individual event tickets or two VIP Packages). This should be a really fun weekend. I hope to see some of you there.

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 January 21, 2019.

 

 

Cocktail Corner: Sipping for Good

BELMOND EL ENCANTO & SUNSTONE WINERY CRAFT CUSTOM BLENDS TO BENEFIT YOUTH INTERACTIVE

Belmond El Encanto has partnered with Sunstone Winery to craft two custom blends in support of the local youth organization Youth Interactive. Photo courtesy Belmond El Encanto.

Belmond El Encanto has partnered with Sunstone Winery to craft two custom blends in support of the local youth organization Youth Interactive. Photo courtesy Belmond El Encanto.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

I’m always excited to hear about partnerships between local wineries, local businesses and local nonprofits. After all, when good wine benefits a good cause … well, it’s all good!

Most recently, Belmond El Encanto  collaborated with the beautiful, family-owned Santa Ynez Valley winery Sunstone Winery to craft two custom blends in partnership with GO Campaign to support Youth Interactive, one of my favorite local organizations that works to create youth-led businesses to help participants explore their creative and entrepreneurial talents. 

Belmond El Encanto worked directly with winemaker Bion Rice and the Sunstone team to craft each wine.

The first custom blend, released in December, is Enchanted Riviera (pictured above). It is a 2017 cuvée consisting of 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Each of the four lots used to compile this blend originated from the 28-year-old Sunstone Estate Vineyard.

The white blend, Charming Vista, will be available in early 2019. A select panel from Belmond El Encanto and Youth Interactive’s Board developed secret blends for a blind tasting at Sunstone Winery, and a Level 2 Sommelier from the winery chose the winning blend.

Youth Interactive Artist Jack Miles with his artwork that is featured on the "Enchanted Riviera" bottle. Courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Artist Jack Miles with his artwork that is featured on the “Enchanted Riviera” bottle. Courtesy photo.

The bottle label artwork was created by Youth Interactive participant, 18-year-old La Cuesta Continuation High School student, Jack Miles. A fan of abstract art, Miles was mentored by celebrated local artist James-Paul Brown on the design.

“Youth Interactive means a lot to me. It is a safe place where I know that I can always come to and feel free to be myself and express myself. I am able to meet important people in the community and expand on my skills to become a better person,” says Miles, who hopes to find a job that allows him to utilize his talents and give back to the community.

Founded in 2012, Youth Interactive Santa Barbara  is a grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy that bridges opportunity and social divisions by providing creative young adults from all walks of life with the keys to self-sufficiency. Sold exclusively at the hotel, Belmond El Encanto will donate five dollars from each bottle sold to the organization. 

You can also check out some of Youth Interactive’s other products at their new gallery space, the State Gallery @ YI Shop, located at 1219 State St. across from the Granada Theatre in Downtown Santa Barbara.

Sunstone Winery, courtesy photo.

Sunstone Winery, courtesy photo.

“Collaborating with both Sunstone Winery and Youth Interactive is the perfect match for Belmond El Encanto,” says Colleen Huther, General Manager of Belmond El Encanto. “Being a strong advocate for sustainability, we appreciate the environmental preservation and organic growing that is inherent with Sunstone Winery. A majority of our local community outreach efforts focus on youth, the future stewards of our planet. We can’t think of a better youth organization to support than Youth Interactive.”

Cheers to good wine and good causes! 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 January 18, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Drink Pink

Both The Sisters and Nocking Point Wines Have Interesting Tales to Tell

Cheers to Rose, photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels.

Cheers to Rose, photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

The weather may be cooling down, but the rosé trend is still warming up. I recently tried some new rosés that are worth toasting, both for their delicate sweetness and their fun back stories. 

Actress Emily Bett Rickards worked with Nocking Point Wines to create Pacific Coast Pink sparkling rose. Courtesy photo.

Actress Emily Bett Rickards worked with Nocking Point Wines to create Pacific Coast Pink sparkling rose. Courtesy photos.

Pacific Coast Pink, created by Nocking Point Wines and television actress Emily Bett Rickards (from the CW superhero show Arrow, based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow), is a sparkling rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. This  wine has delicate floral and red fruit aromas, with zesty acidity and strawberry and cherry flavors.  It was aged for 18 months in tirage and is made in the classic Méthode Champenoise style and is perfect by itself or serve with appetizers.

For Pacific Coast Pink bubbly, Bett Rickards worked on every aspect of the sparkling wine, from selecting the grapes used to inviting artist Josh Malneritch—whose work is often based on floral and skull themes—to design the wine’s logo and label. This design definitely has a lot of personality. The back of the bottle contains the instructions, “For best results, share with your best friend in a bathtub.”

Nocking Point Wines also have an interesting business model. All of them are created in partnership with select celebrities whose fans are super-engaged—think Comic-Con levels of fan-dom. Sold by subscription box only, each vintage is created by respected winemakers in collaboration with a range of celebrities such as Aquaman and Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa, and multi-hyphenate entertainer and activist Aisha Tyler, among others. Visit nockingpointwines.com for more information about upcoming celebrity wine partners and subscription information.

The Sisters wines were created for "women who do extraordinary things every day." Courtesy photo.

The Sisters wines were created for “women who do extraordinary things every day.” Courtesy photo.

The pinot rosé from New Zealand based wine company, The Sisters, is also worth noting, both for the delicious wine in the bottle as well as the story behind the brand.

Created by the talented young winemaker from Marlborough, Rebecca Wiffen, The Sisters wines have been made in a style that is fruit-driven and balanced, and they can be enjoyed with or without food. With an innate understanding of women’s hectic lives,

The Sisters is all about celebrating what women achieve and the girlfriends who lift each other up during those times.

The pinot rosé is lovely on its own, and also works well with an antipasto platter, salmon, pizza, pasta, salads and pork.

The Sisters wines support female-oriented charitable organizations such as Dress for Success and The Women’s Collective. With a motto I can certainly get behind, “Wine for women who do extraordinary things, every day,” these wines are perfect to share with a favorite sister or friend.

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 December 21, 2018.

 

Cocktail Corner: Wine World News & Happenings

Presqu’ile Winery scores big in National Tasting Room Rankings, releases Rescue Wine Collection; The Pillars Wines showcase Bien Nacido Estate; Brick Barn Wine Estate Scores Big in Competition; Guarachi Wine Partners Acquires Parker Station; Cambria Estate Winery joins Stewards of the Land with Leonardo DiCaprio

Presqu’ile Tasting Room, photo by Avis Mandel.

Presqu’ile Tasting Room, photo by Avis Mandel.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Presqu’ile Winery Rates #2 in USA Today’s 10 Best Tasting Rooms in the U.S.

Presqu’ile, the Murphy Family’s contemporary estate winery in the hills of Santa Maria, placed second in USA TODAY’s 2018 National Readers Poll of 10 Best Tasting Rooms across the United States, serving as the only representative and entry from Santa Barbara County.

“Our mission at the Presqu’ile tasting room is to share our passion for the wines from Santa Maria Valley and our estate vineyard in a relaxed, elegant setting while providing world-class hospitality,” states Matt Murphy, co-founder and president. “The nomination for the top 10 Best Tasting Rooms and second place finish in the poll is a testament to the hard work our team puts in daily to deliver this experience. They are an extension of our family and do an incredible job living up to our high expectations for the guest experience at Presqu’ile. A huge thanks to our friends and extended family who voted for us; we are so appreciative of the support.”

Nominees for USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards categories are chosen by a panel of relevant experts. Presqu’ile (pronounced press-KEEL) is a small, family-run winery dedicated to making exceptional cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Presqu’ile is a multigenerational collaboration between Madison and Suzanne Murphy, their three adult children, Matt, Anna and Jonathan, and their daughters-in-law, Amanda and Lindsey. No strangers to agriculture, four generations of the wine-loving Murphy family have been farming land in Louisiana for almost a century. Led by eldest son Matt Murphy, the family founded Presqu’ile—the Creole word for “almost an island”—both as a tribute to a beloved Gulf Coast family gathering place that was lost in Hurricane Katrina, and because they envisioned Presqu’ile as an island-like haven amid the vines. Also on the team is rising star winemaker Dieter Cronje.

Left: Murphy family members Charlie, Anna, Matt, Pokey, Suzanne and Madison; right: Assistant Winemaker Mike Chase with Gus and Nyla. Photo courtesy of Presqu’ile.

Left: Murphy family members Charlie, Anna, Matt, Pokey, Suzanne and Madison; right: Assistant Winemaker Mike Chase with Gus and Nyla. Photo courtesy of Presqu’ile.

Rescue Wine Collection

Presqu’ile also recently joined forces with the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society to release the Rescue Wine Collection named for the winning dog and cat of the Presqui’le Spokesdog and Spokescat Contest honoring the second annual Presqu’ile 5K9 Run & Walk held this fall. The contest and event benefited the work of the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.

The Miller Family Releases of The Pillars Wines, Historically Inspired to Represent the Foundation of the Bien Nacido Estate
Nicholas Miller, Stephen Miller and Marshall Miller, proprietors of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates. Courtesy photo.

Nicholas Miller, Stephen Miller and Marshall Miller, proprietors of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates. Courtesy photo.

The Miller family, owners and stewards of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates, recently announced the release of The Pillars, a selection of three historically inspired wines from the most exceptional parcels within Bien Nacido Vineyard.

Since Bien Nacido Vineyard’s inception in 1973, the most impressive parcels of the vineyard have commanded the highest demand and demonstrated the greatest quality. It’s with this understanding that, after 45 years, the Miller Family has decided to craft these three special wines, anchored in the rich history of Bien Nacido and appropriately called the Pillars to represent the foundation of the winemaking program. 

 “The Pillars Wines were created to honor our family’s history, leadership and vision for growing the world’s best grapes and producing the highest quality wines from the Bien Nacido Estate,” shares Nicholas Miller, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The name was really inspired by the pillars of our family.”

Bien Nacido & Solomon Hills Estates are part of The Thornhill Companies, the industry-leading umbrella brand owned by the Miller Family—one of California’s premier winegrowing families who have been farming California’s Central Coast for five generations. In addition to the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Estates, The Thornhill Companies includes such well-respected brands as J. Wilkes, Ballard Lane, Smashberry and Barrel Burner wines, French Camp vineyard in Paso Robles and the custom crush facilities Central Coast Wine Services and Paso Robles Wine Services.

Brick Barn Wine Estate Scores Big in Competition
Brick Barn Wine Estate Winery, courtesy photo.

Brick Barn Wine Estate Winery, courtesy photo.

The Brick Barn Estate Winery & Vineyard recently won some awards at 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge and the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition. Here’s a round-up of the award-winning wines:

2016 Albariño: Block 1 / Albariño Clone 1 / 1.9 acres. A lively rendition of this classic Spanish variety. Bright white flower aromatics build in the glass, leading to a crisp and direct core of exotic citrus and pear. These qualities are enhanced with extended skin contact, light pressing and extended cold settling prior to fermentation and aging in stainless steel.  2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge:  Best in Class, Best in Show, Best White, Double Gold and Best of the Central Coast.2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition: Double Gold.

2016 Vermentino: Block 7 / Vermentino Clone Tablas A / 2.1 acres. An aromatic white that offers both crispness and length. Grown in a wind-protected block behind the winery, this wine shows delicate floral notes of peach and honeysuckle followed by vibrant white fruit flavors—all layered over a fresh sea breeze salinity and a lasting, stony finish. 2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition: Sweepstakes Winner White Wines.

2017 Grenache Rosé: Block 2 / Grenache Blanc Clone 141 / 3.28 acres Alive with a vibrant fragrance of rose petal and chalk followed by a juicy core of fruit and beach stones. This wine is whole cluster pressed, settled and co-fermented with Grenache Clone 136, Grenache Clone 513 and Grenache Blanc. 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge: Silver Medal.

2016 Chardonnay: Block 5 / Chardonnay Clone 4 / 5.04 acres Block 6 / Chardonnay Clone 809 / 2.96 acres. A focused, terroir-driven  Chardonnay. Bright and alluring tones of citrus and pear are driven by a crisp mineral structure derived from the alluvial sands of our estate’s lower blocks. 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge: Gold Medal.

2016 Cabernet Franc: Block 18 / Cabernet Franc Clone 332 / 2.64 acres. Grown in the upper blocks of our estate vineyard, this wine derives power and finesse from an east-west row orientation along a rocky, hillside terrain. Deep red fruit and spicy aromatics lead to flavors of currant, pepper and dark cherry, all supported by firm, structured tannins. 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Challenge: Gold Medal

The 35-acre Brick Barn estate vineyard, which opened its Buellton tasting room in 2018, is open to the pubic daily. For more information, visit www.brickbarnwineestate.com.

Guarachi Wine Partners Acquires Parker Station from Fess Parker Winery
Parker Station Wine, courtesy photo.

Parker Station Wine, courtesy photo.

Guarachi Wine Partners  and Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard recently announced Guarachi Wine Partners’ acquisition of Parker Station, a Central Coast Pinot Noir brand. Guarachi Wine Partners will be representing and supporting the brand by leveraging its experienced sales team, developing marketing campaigns and national distribution to grow brand awareness and overall volume. The wine will continue to be produced by Fess Parker Winery for a period of five years.

“Ten years ago, I saw an opportunity to expand past South American wines and into California produced wines. Our domestic portfolio now features Guarachi Family Wines  —a high-end luxury label sourced from micro lots within Estate vineyards in Napa and Sonoma, and a gathering of high quality wine brands at reasonable prices including Black Ink,  tenshǝn,  Surf/Swim  and  BACON,” says Alex Guarachi, founder of Guarachi Wine Partners and owner of Guarachi Family Wines. “Parker Station is the perfect addition and fits a niche for our portfolio with its great price point Pinot Noir and drinkability that consumers are looking for. Part of the future plan for the brand is to extend the line to include Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. I’m excited to share this wine with everyone and looking forward to a long term partnership with Fess Parker.”

Tim Snider, President of Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, adds, “As we enter our 30th year as a family owned and operated winery here in Santa Barbara County, we feel a return to our core identity by focusing on our higher-end and single-vineyard wines is the best path forward for the family.” Snider continues, “Connecting with Alex Guarachi about his vision to grow the Parker Station label is a mutually beneficial opportunity, and we know the brand will continue to flourish as part of their portfolio, which represents the richness and diversity of the global wine world.”

Cambria Estate Winery Partners with Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation for “Stewards of the Land” Grant Program 
Courtesy Cambria Estate Winery.

Courtesy Cambria Estate Winery.

Cambria Estate Winery recently announced the launch of its “Stewards of the Land” environmental sustainability grant program in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF). LDF has worked on environmental issues globally for the past 20 years and pulled from their broad network of leaders and organizations in the space to nominate the women for this new grant program.

The Cambria “Stewards of the Land” grant program identifies and empowers female leaders who are making meaningful contributions to environmental and community-based causes.  In partnership with LDF, Cambria Estate Winery’s co-proprietors Julia Jackson and Katie Jackson selected two recipients who will each receive a $25,000 grant to further their mission as Stewards of the Land.  The inaugural grant recipients, Calla Rose Ostrander and the Women’s Empowerment Program of Amazon Frontlines, were selected for their demonstrated commitment to environmental conservation and excellent stewardship of our natural resources, in California and around the globe, respectively.

“Our ‘Stewards of the Land’ program is not only focused on identifying inspiring female leaders in important environmental causes here at home, but the program seeks to extend its impact and reach to places around the globe that are not normally in our day-to-day conscience, like the Amazon,” says Julia Jackson, co-proprietor of Cambria and Family Ambassador for Jackson Family Wines. “We’re very excited to support Calla Rose Ostrander’s work to improve carbon capture and regeneration, and the Women’s Empowerment Program of Amazon Frontlines for its dedication to protecting over five million acres of rainforest that is vital to worldwide oxygen supply and sequesters vast amounts of carbon.”   

“We are excited to use our vast network of environmental change makers to help Cambria Estate Winery identify and champion women who are leading impactful efforts to protect the health of our planet,” says LDF Executive Director Justin Winters. “The inaugural grant recipients, Calla Rose Ostrander and the women from the Women’s Empowerment Program of Amazon Frontlines, are incredible examples of the type of thoughtful, innovative and collaborative leadership that we believe is the key to ensuring a vibrant our future.”

“We are proud to partner with LDF to help bring worldwide attention to environmental stewardship,” says Katie Jackson, co-proprietor of Cambria Estate Winery and Vice President of Sustainability and External Affairs for Jackson Family Wines. “We are supporting innovative initiatives that will have a real, lasting impact on improving soil health, while also empowering women to become environmental leaders in their own communities.”

Throughout its history, Cambria Estate Winery has taken serious, continuous steps to preserve and protect the land, take care of its employees, and support the local community.  Every aspect of the winery’s operations, from the cellar to the estate vineyard, practices sustainable farming and winemaking techniques. For more information, visit cambriawines.com/stewards-of-the-land. 

 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 December 14, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: 2019 World of Pinot Noir

The annual World of Pinot Noir event gathers the planet’s foremost Pinot Noir wineries and winemakers, renowned chefs, sommeliers and leading wine scholars in a weekend-long seaside celebration of this delicious and storied wine. Courtesy photo.

The annual World of Pinot Noir event gathers the planet’s foremost Pinot Noir wineries and winemakers, renowned chefs, sommeliers and leading wine scholars in a weekend-long seaside celebration of this delicious and storied wine. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Looking for a special gift for that special wine lover? Tickets to the 2019 World of Pinot Noir are sure to please even the pickiest palates.

Always one of my favorite wine festivals, this year’s event includes more than 200 wineries from around the globe, pairing dinners, Pinot Noir parties and expert-led seminars.

Some of the highlights include:

Exploring the New World of Pinot Noir with Elaine Chukan Brown, the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com and a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits Magazine, leading a winemaker panel discussion and tasting exploring the exciting wines being produced in New Zealand, Oregon, Chile and California. The discussion will explore how these pioneering regions are helping shape the future of Pinot Noir.

Tasting the Signature Styles of Burgundy with David Glancy, Master Sommelier and founder of the San Francisco Wine School, focuses on identifying the signature styles of the marque region.

Local writer and Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor Matt Kettmann will host a dozen famous winemakers during Stars of the Central Coast Dinner.

The World of Pinot Noir takes place Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

The World of Pinot Noir takes place Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

Burgundy Dinner: Celebrating Domaine Chanson: One of the great historic producers of Burgundy, Chanson is one of only six producers in Burgundy still remaining from the 18th century. For this five-course dinner, the host, Chanson’s Managing Director Vincent Avenal, will be selecting verticals of some of his favorite wines to pair with the menu, created by Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s Executive Chef Umit Kaygusuz. The wines will include choice vintages of Chanson’s Beaune Clos de Fèves Monopole, Savigny Lès Beaune Dominodes, Chamberton Clos de Bèze, and Beaune Cuvée de Salins Hospice de Beaune. The dinner will open with Champagne Bollinger, Chanson’s sister Champagne house.

Savoy Vineyard: The Apex of Anderson Valley with Esther Mobley, Wine Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, exploring the wines from Anderson Valley’s famous Savoy Vineyard.

A great gift idea for any wine lover, The World of Pinot Noir takes place Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

A great gift idea for any wine lover, The World of Pinot Noir takes place Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Dinner to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Fess Parker Winery, WOPN hosts a five-course dinner and retrospective of one of California Pinot Noir’s most pioneering and influential wine families. Members of the Parker family, as well as head winemaker Blair Fox, will be on hand to walk guests through rare library wines representing the breadth and depth of the winery’s portfolio. Chef John Cox of The Bear and Star restaurant will deliver a carefully paired menu of his signature refined ranch cuisine to complement the tasting.

The World of Pinot Noir Grand Tasting, courtesy photo.

The World of Pinot Noir Grand Tasting, courtesy photo.

In addition, there are more special winemaker dinners and seminars, an Opening Night Party, Grand Tasting events on both Friday and Saturday, and a lovely Rosé Lawn Party on the bluff Saturday as well.

The Rose Lawn Party at World of Pinot Noir at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. Courtesy photo.

The Rose Lawn Party at World of Pinot Noir at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. Courtesy photo.

The World of Pinot Noir takes place February 28 – March 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara (8301 Hollister Ave.).

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit WorldofPinotNoir.com. Hope to see you there!

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 December 7, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Seasonal Sips & Bites at Finch & Fork

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

We got the chance to taste Finch & Fork’s seasonal cocktail menu and the late fall/early winter dinner menu, both of which are delicious!

Lead Bartender George Piperis‘s new cocktails embrace the season with sensational sippers like the Daughter of Man with copper & kings brandy, honey crisp apple, black currant, honey and eucalyptus bitters, and the Captain Jack Sparrow with jack daniels rye, chairman’s forgotten cask rum, roasted banana and blackstrap and tobacco bitters. Christmas is definitely in the air with the In the Pines cocktail, made with death’s door gin, cardamaro, cocchi torino and pine pollen, and you can’t help but smile when you taste the frothy and tasty You Got Chocolate in My Peanut Butter, made with peanut butter–washed toki japanese whisky, tempus fugit créme de cacao and peanut butter foam. The little girl in me loved Barbie’s Bath Bomb, garnished with Barbie-sized shoes and made with Hangar One vodka, rhubarb, grapefruit, and a pouf of tarragon air. So fun!

Finch & Fork's Barbie Bath Bomb, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Barbie Bath Bomb, courtesy photo.

All those great cocktails helped up work up an appetite, and Executive Chef Peter Cham‘s tasty selections fit the bill to a tee. Among our favorites were the Sweet Potato Baba Ganoush, a surprising mashup of sweet and savory served with incredible housemade bread and pickled veggies. The Harissa Buffalo Wings are another favorite starter, along with hearty Mushroom Soup made with puffed​ rice, black truffle powder and chives (so aromatic and lovely!).

The Burrata & Roasted Squash with pumpkin seed pesto, pomegranate, vadovan honey and rye croutons is a mouthwatering, original variation on one of our favorite cheese dishes. As for mains, the Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli with pork cheek ragout, poblano sofrito and aged manchego is fabulous. You also can’t go wrong with the Sea Scallops. This season’s version sits on a brown butter cauliflower puree, with romanesco, pickled kumquat and crispy capers. And even better yet, a  portion of the proceeds from the scallops is donated to No Kid Hungry, a movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry.

Finch & Fork Sweet Potato Babaganoush, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Sweet Potato Babaganoush, courtesy photo.

Speaking of hunger, Finch & Fork is offering yet another way to make your taste buds sing, when Chef Cham offers a special CHAMily Holiday DinnerGather around the table for an evening that takes you back to his Cambodian roots. The multi-course, family-style dinner features traditional Cambodian cuisine, like Prahok Ktiss and Noum Prajok, served alongside truly great company. The CHAMily Dinner is Saturday, December 8 at 7 p.m. Reservations can be made for $55 per person, which includes a welcome drink from lead bartender George Piperis. Optional wine and beer pairings are available. 

Call 805/879-9100 to make your reservation. Seating is limited. Finch & Fork is located at 31 W. Carrillo St. in the Kimpton Canary

Daughter of Man, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Daughter of Man, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Harissa Wings, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Harissa Wings, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Chocolate in my Peanut Butter, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Chocolate in my Peanut Butter, photo courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch & Fork Scallops, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Scallops, courtesy photo.

Finch in the Pines, photo by Kevin Claiborne, courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch in the Pines, photo by Kevin Claiborne, courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch & Fork's Burrata and Cauliflower, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Burrata and Cauliflower, courtesy photo.

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

In the Pines, photo by Michael Sharp, courtesy Finch & Fork.

Finch & Fork's Black Pepper Cavatelli, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork’s Black Pepper Cavatelli, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork's Daily Special Board, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Daily Special Board, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

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 November 30, 2018.