Cocktail Corner: Get the VIP Treatment at Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Rob Brown.

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Rob Brown.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

It’s always lovely to visit Fess Parker‘s bucolic 714-acre ranch in Los Olivos, but they recently refurbished the VIP Barrel Room, which makes it an even better wine tasting experience.

The tour starts with a video, shot by acclaimed photographer Rob Brown, of the history of the ranch and Fess Parker’s development of the vineyard on what is now known as the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.  Though Fess passed away in 2010, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is still family owned and operated, as it has been since 1989.

Fess Parker Winery, courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Winery, courtesy photo.

Following the video, we went into the barrel room for a discussion of the cooperage selection, and the wine aging process, as well as a special barrel tasting. Our tour was just for my husband and I, but they can accommodate up to 12 guests.

Tasting at Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Tasting at Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

You then go into a seated tasting of some top notch wines,  accompanied by a selection of savory bites prepared by the culinary team at The Bear and Star restaurant (another delicious Fess Parker family venture at the nearby Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa in Los Olivos). Among the six notable wines we tasted that day were the 2016 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills and the 2015 Ashley’s Pinot Noir, also from Sta. Rita Hills.

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Peter Malinowski.

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Peter Malinowski.

Tasting in the sophisticated new barrel room—designed in dramatic shades of red and black, which are warmed up by wood cabinetry and shelving—definitely feels like you’re entering the inner sanctum of the winery, and creates a dynamic contrast to the more homespun vibe found in other, more public, parts of the winery, where tastings are also offered.

Fess Parker Winery patio, courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Winery patio, courtesy photo.

The VIP Barrel Room Tasting and Tour is only available on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m., by reservation only, and is $50 for non-wine club members and $35 for wine club members. For more information, call 800/841-1104 or email barrett@fessparker.com.

Fess Parker Winery is located at 6200 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the 12 other wineries on the Foxen Canyon Wine trail (one of the most beautiful ways to explore Santa Barbara Wine Country, in my opinion) click here.

Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Fess Parker Winery, 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 June 22, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Mixologists Compete for “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Title

Puesta Del Sol cocktail by finalist Loquita, photo by Loquita, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Puesta Del Sol cocktail by finalist Loquita, photo by Loquita, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

 A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Last year’s winner was “Ginspiration Point” by Alcazar Tapas Bar—a delicious homage to Inspiration Point, one of the most popular hiking trails in Santa Barbara’s foothills. Who will win bragging rights in the Second Annual “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Cocktail Contest? 

Visit Santa Barbara hosts this fun and lively competition on Thursday, June 21 at El Paseo Mexican Restaurant (813 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara) from 5-8 p.m.

Biltmore Fuerte cocktail by finalist Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, photo by Four Seasons, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Biltmore Fuerte cocktail by finalist Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, photo by Four Seasons, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

“We invite the public to sample the drinks of some of our region’s most creative mixologists, root on their favorites, and raise a toast to our community’s extraordinarily gifted food and drink professionals,” says Visit Santa Barbara President/CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes.

Local restaurants and bars were once again invited to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of The American Riviera. The creation must include a spirit from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a locally owned small-scale craft distillery located in the Funk Zone. Contestants were encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene.

The Drive Home cocktail by finalist Finch & Fork, photo by Finch & Fork, courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

The Drive Home cocktail by finalist Finch & Fork, photo by Finch & Fork, courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

The finalists were selected by the public. The winning cocktails include: “Biltmore Fuerte” by Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, “The Drive Home” by Finch & Fork, “Riviera Hermosa” by Santo Mezcal, “Puesta del Sol” by Loquita, and “The American Riviera” by Santa Barbara Brewing Company

Riviera Hermosa cocktail by finalist Santo Mezcal, Photo by Santo Mezcal, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Riviera Hermosa cocktail by finalist Santo Mezcal, Photo by Santo Mezcal, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

The live competition is emceed by Gabe Saglie, television personality and senior editor for Travelzoo. The cocktail judges include: food and wine author and columnist Michael Cervin; writer and publisher of Unique Eat and Eateries of Santa Barbara Geneva Ives; senior editor for the Santa Barbara Independent, Matt Kettmann; and “2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” winner and owner of Alcazar Tapas Bar, Alvaro Rojas. In addition, Santa Barbara Independent contest winner Gina Andrews was also selected as a judge. 

I got to be a judge last year and I can tell you, these guys are in for some tough decisions. I’ve already sampled both the Biltmore and Finch & Fork’s entries and they’re both excellent.

The American Riviera cocktail by finalist Santa Barbara Brewing Company, photo by Santa Barbara Brewing Company, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

The American Riviera cocktail by finalist Santa Barbara Brewing Company, photo by Santa Barbara Brewing Company, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Tickets are on sale now. The cost is $25, and includes two glasses of wine, appetizers and a sample of the five finalists’ entries (while supplies last). Casa Dumetz Wines and Margerum Wine Company will be pouring wine. Beer and cocktails are available for purchase at the bar. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information. Must be 21 and older to attend. 

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 June 16, 2018. 

Cocktail Corner: Sundown Sundays at Santa Barbara Wine Collective

The Santa Barbara Wine Collective Patio, photo by Rob Stark.

The Santa Barbara Wine Collective Patio, photo by Rob Stark.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Looking for something different and fun to do on a Sunday afternoon. Starting this week (June 17), Santa Barbara Wine Collective launches Sundown Sundays for summer. Relax with a glass of one of the member wineries’ vintages on the Santa Barbara Wine Collective patio, located on the Urban Wine Trail of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone at 131 Anacapa St., Suite C.

Cheyenne Skye, courtesy photo.

Cheyenne Skye, courtesy photo.

Listen to the live music sounds of Cheyenne Skye on Sunday, June 17, from 3-6 p.m. “Cheyenne Skye sings from the heart and writes timeless songs with an equal touch of emotion and humor along with her love for nature. She projects a combination of folk and soul, almost as if Patsy Cline, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, Jim Croce all had a baby together. An original member of the group Rainbow Girls, Skye has toured the Western United States and the UK/Europe, and has shared stages with California Honeydrops, Nicki Bluhm and the Gamblers, ALO, Brothers Comatose, Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra, John Craigie, Handmade Moments, Groove Session, Whiskerman and many more.”

DJ BargainBin, courtesy photo.

DJ BargainBin, courtesy photo.

DJ BarginBin (Jack Carmean) performs on Sunday, June 24 and Sunday, July 1. “DJ BargainBin is a classic, all-vinyl DJ from California’s central coast. Spinning multiple flavors of pop, rock, soul & schlock, since the mid-2000s, guesting at Sailing (at the Attic) and Horizons (at the Makeout Room) and hosting a monthly feature, Kodachrome at St. Mary’s Pub. Since relocating to the Central Coast, he’s been spinning the funk at Soul Service (@ the Mercury Lounge) and lounge grooves at Hi! Jinx! (@ the Imperial). In between the regular gigs, sometimes it’s powerpop, sometimes it’s smooth rock, sometimes New Wave, but it’s always classic vinyl and it’s always gonna get you on your feet!”

Persian Housecat performs July 8 & July 22 and Valdas Karalis (July 29). Helena Avenue Bakery Cheese Plates and Baguettes are available for purchase to enjoy with wines by the glass or bottle from Santa Barbara County member wineries Babcock Winery, Ca’ Del Grevino, Fess Parker Winery, Notary Public Wine, and The Paring & The Hilt.

Admission is free to the public and reservations are not required. The Santa Barbara Wine Collective patio is pet-friendly. Musical talent performs from 3-6 p.m. 

I 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.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

One of the very best wine fests—the 31st Annual Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival—returns to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on Saturday, June 30.

The Museum is a beautiful place to indulge in delicious wines paired with excellent bites along the shaded banks of Mission Creek. And you can feel good about going to this event because all net proceeds from the festival support the Museum’s nature and science education programs. I have fond memories of field trips to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History  back when I was in elementary school, as well as many more recent trips with my son.

It’s definitely a festival with a LOCAL feeling. Perhaps because of that, the Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival is also one of the few events that the winemakers themselves attend and pour their favorite vintages. “This is one of the very best tastings that we attend throughout the year,” says Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa.

“This is the most beautiful tasting, the most beautiful setting that I do anywhere in the country.” says Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat.

Jamie Slone at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Jamie Slone at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

More than 50 Central Coast wineries will be at the festival, including:

Alexander & Wayne

Alma Rosa

Marni Margerum at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Marni Margerum at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Andrew Murray Vineyards 

Area 5.1

Arthur Earl Winery

Au Bon Climat

Babcock Winery

Beckmen Vineyards

Bedford Winery

Blair Fox

Brander Vineyard

Brewer-Clifton

Buttonwood

Cambria

Carr Vineyards and Winery

Casa Dumetz

Cebada

Consilience

CORE

Cutler’s Artisan

D’Alfonso-Curran

De Paola

Domaine de la Cote

Epiphany Cellars

Feliz Noche

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

Tim Snider and Brad Thomas at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Tim Snider and Brad Thomas at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Fiddlehead Cellars

Flying Goat Cellars

Foxen

Gainey Vineyards

Grassini Family Vineyards

Jaffurs Wine Cellars

Jamie Slone

Kalyra

Kaena Wine

Ken Brown Wines

Kenneth Volk Vineyards

Koehler Winery

LaFond Winery

Larner Wines

Fred Brander at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Fred Brander at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Longoria

Lumen

Mail Road Winery

Margerum Wine Company

Melville

Mosby Winery & Vineyard

Municipal Winemakers

Notary Public

Nielson

Oreana

Palmina

Potek

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Qupé

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Rideau

Sagebrush Annie’s

Sandhi Wines

Santa Barbara Winery

Savoy Wines

Silver Wines

Storm Wines

Sunstone Winery

Tablas Creek

Tatomer

Tercero Wines

Transcendence Wines

Whitcraft Winery

Zaca Mesa

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival.

Ian Cutler at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Ian Cutler at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Also available are sweet and savory delectable delights from more than 40 of Santa Barbara County’s finest eateries and caterers, including:

• Barbareño

• Benchmark

• Black Bow Sweets

• Blue Water Grill

• Bob’s Well Bread

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

• Bottlest Bistro

• Brophy Bros.

• Ca’ Dario

• Corazon Cocina

• Country Catering

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

• Deux Bakery

• Enterprise Fish Company

• Farmer Boy

• Finch and Fork Restaurant

• Gelson’s Market – Santa Barbara

• Helena Avenue Bakery

• Hitching Post

• il Fustino

• Industrial Eats

• Jessica Foster Confections

Les Marchands

Loquita

• Michael’s Catering

• Oat Bakery

• Outpost at Goodland

• Pacific Pickle Works

• Pico

Guests enjoy Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Guests enjoy Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

• Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro

• Santa Barbara Popcorn Co.

• Savoy Cafe and Deli

• Scarlett Begonia

• Solvang Bakery

• The Bear and Star

The Lark

• Tondi Gelato

• Via Maestra 42

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival tickets cost $75 for Museum members and $100 for non-members. VIP tickets, including access to the VIP Lounge, early entry at 1 p.m. (the regular festival runs from 2–5 p.m.), six exclusive tastings and food pairings with winemakers, chair massages, and more are $125 for Museum members and $150 for non-members.

Designated drivers are free to enter as long as they accompany a paid guest. Designated drivers can sign up by emailing Sarah at sclement@sbnature2.org and giving the names of their passenger(s).

The Museum is located at 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara. For more information, please visit www.sbnature.org/winefestival.

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 June 3, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Belvedere Vodka’s New Ginger Zest Flavor

Ginger Zest Spritz, courtesy Belvedere.

Ginger Zest Spritz, courtesy Belvedere.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Belvedere Vodka‘s new Ginger Zest flavor recently hit the shelves and it’s perfect for the warmer days of late spring and summer. A delicious and refreshing blend of tangy ginger and juicy spring lemon with a touch of grapefruit, it works well in a wide variety of drinks.

Belvedere’s distinctive, time-intensive maceration process ensures its Dankowskie Gold rye vodka is imbued with real spices and fruit, reinforcing its 100% natural, no sugar added and non-GMO Polish Rye philosophy. Ginger Zest is created by extracting fragrant oils from pure ginger, spring lemons and grapefruit that have been immersed in Belvedere Vodka. The result is a delicious, smooth liquid of uncompromising quality and character, infused with notes of ginger spice and balanced with zesty citrus.

The vodka’s delicious with a simple splash of tonic and lime or grapefruit juice.

Belvedere Polish Mule, courtesy Belvedere.

Belvedere Polish Mule, courtesy Belvedere.

“For something even better, Chef and wellness expert Candice Kumai, embracing the roots inherited from her Polish father, partnered with Belvedere to create dishes that paired with the following Ginger Zest signature cocktails.”

Polish Mule 

Belvedere's new ginger zest vodka, courtesy photo.

Belvedere’s new ginger zest vodka, courtesy photo.

2 oz Belvedere Ginger Zest

.5 oz Lime Juice

.25 oz Simple Syrup

5 oz Ginger Beer

3-4 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

Whip, shake, dump and top with soda. Garnish with lime wheel.

 

Ginger Zest Spritz

1 oz Belvedere Ginger Zest 

.75 oz Lime Juice

.5 oz Honey Syrup

4 oz Soda Water

Build in spritz glass. Garnish with ginger and lime slices.

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 June 1, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Experiencing the Vineyard at Zaca Mesa

A drone view of Zaca Mesa Vineyard, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

A drone view of Zaca Mesa Vineyard, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Venturing into Santa Barbara County wine country is always a treat, but if you want something extra special, the Vineyard Experience at Zaca Mesa is a must-see. My husband and I recently took the tour and had such a lovely day. 

First of all, the sustainable estate winery and vineyard is gorgeous, with sweeping views as far as the eye can see. In his air-conditioned vehicle, Garrett Black, who is the company’s Brand Ambassador | Special Events, as well as a Certified Sommelier, CMS, took us through the history of the renowned 750-acre property, which was planted in 1973 and only the third winery in Santa Barbara County at that time.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

As an added and very clever part of the tour, as we stopped at various points in the vineyard and tasted wines among the very vines that they came from. Believe me when I say that Zaca Mesa’s famous Black Bear Block Syrah—the oldest Syrah block in the Central Coast—is even more delicious when you’re sipping among the vines! 

Zaca Mesa served as the training ground for many great winemakers. Ken Brown was Zaca Mesa’s first winemaker (he later started Byron in Santa Maria Valley). Adam Tolmach, Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist worked at Zaca Mesa before venturing out on their own to start Ojai Vineyard, Au Bon Climat and Qupé, respectively. The current team produces excellent Syrah, Viognier, and other Rhône varieties and includes Director of Vineyard and Winery Operations Eric Mohseni and Winemaker Kristin Bryden.

Zaca Mesa Winemaker Kristin Bryden, courtesy photo.

Zaca Mesa Winemaker Kristin Bryden, courtesy photo.

Our experience (2+ hours) included an in-depth tour of the vineyard and production facility, personalized tours of the crush pad, tank rooms and barrel rooms, and a delicious wine country picnic lunch (ours was delicious and from Industrial Eats) with a guided tasting of current releases.

It was so much fun. The Vineyard Experience is $100 per person, and is available only to groups of 4-13 people. If that’s not quite in your budget, or time constraints, Zaca Mesa also offers a Winery Tour & Tasting, where guests can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the winery and production facility in an hour-long experience that spotlights Zaca Mesa’s history and the winery’s annual journey from vine to bottle. The Winery Tour & Tasting is $30 per person and includes a sampling of current releases.  

Some snippets from our tour of Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard, photos by Zak Klobucher.

Some snippets from our tour of Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard, photos by Zak Klobucher.

Both tours are available by reservation. Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard is located at 6905 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos, 805/688-9339. For more information about tastings and tours click here.

Cheers!  Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

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 May 25, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Canary Hotel’s Rooftop Sip and Swirl Series

Canary Hotel's Summer Sip and Swirl series, courtesy photo.

Canary Hotel’s Summer Sip and Swirl series, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

Get ready to enjoy one of the best views in town when Finch & Fork and the Canary Hotel kick off a sun-filled summer with the return of their popular wine tasting series, Sip & Swirl. Both locals and guests are invited to taste some of the region’s best wines and enjoy the stunning views from downtown’s premier rooftop terrace.

The monthly wine series kicks off on Tuesday May 22 with wines from Cambria Estate Winery, Casa Dumetz Wines (winemaker Sonja Magdevski will pour), J. Wilkes (winemaker Wes Hagen will pour), Carr Winery and its sister brand, CrossHatch (co-owner Jessica Carr will pour), Stolpman Vineyards, Jaffurs Wine Cellars and Rancho Sisquoc.

Held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (perfect for sunset views) all summer long, Sip & Swirl features a rotating collection of local wineries who will showcase their best vintages. November and December Sip & Swirls will take a festive turn, highlighting bourbons, cabs, and bubbly. Dates for the series are May 22, June 26, August 28, October 23, November 13 (Bourbons and Cabs) and December 11 (Bubbles).

Tickets are $35, which includes tastings of all the wines and cheeses. Visit NightOut.com, or purchase at the door.

The Canary Hotel is located at 31 W Carrillo St., in downtown Santa Barbara.

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 May 21, 2018. 

Cocktail Corner: Spring Cocktails From The Bear and Star

The Bear and Star's The Greens, with muddled mint, cucumber, thyme sprig, green chartreuse, white rum, sparkling wine & lime juice. Courtesy photo.

The Bear and Star’s The Greens, with muddled mint, cucumber, thyme sprig, green chartreuse, white rum, sparkling wine & lime juice. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

The Bear and Star in Los Olivos not only showcases excellent refined ranch cuisine, created primarily with ingredients from the 714-acre Fess Parker Ranch that’s just a few miles away, but the heirloom fruits, vegetables herbs and wildflowers have also inspired a creative new cocktail menu for spring.

The Bear and Star's Herb Gin ‘n Tonic, with Cutler’s artisan gin, lime juice, simple syrup, quinine powder & seasonal fresh herbs from the garden. Courtesy photo.

The Bear and Star’s Herb Gin ‘n Tonic, with Cutler’s artisan gin, lime juice, simple syrup, quinine powder & seasonal fresh herbs from the garden. Courtesy photo.

The Spring Shandy is made with vodka, blonde beer, lemonade & lime juice.

The Herb Gin ‘n Tonic has Cutler’s Artisan Gin, lime juice, simple syrup, quinine powder & seasonal fresh herbs from the garden.

The Bear and Star's The Revive, with yellow chartreuse, aperol, kumquat shrub, muddled strawberry & white wine. Courtesy photo.

The Bear and Star’s The Revive, with yellow chartreuse, aperol, kumquat shrub, muddled strawberry & white wine. Courtesy photo.

The Revive is made with yellow chartreuse, aperol, kumquat shrub, muddled strawberries & white wine.

The Greens features muddled mint, cucumber, thyme sprig, green chartreuse, white rum, sparkling wine & lime juice.

Each of these hand-crafted cocktails are priced at $12 and available throughout the season.  

The Bear and Star's Spring Shandy, with vodka, blonde beer, lemonade & lime juice. Courtesy photo.

The Bear and Star’s Spring Shandy, with vodka, blonde beer, lemonade & lime juice. Courtesy photo.

“The bar at The Bear and Star focuses on crafting variations classic cocktails using the best seasonal ingredient available, many of which come from our farm just six miles away,” says General Manager Robert Williams. “And collaborating with our farmers is by far the most exciting aspect of what our bar program has to offer. We have only just begun.”

The Bear and Star is located at 2860 Grand Ave., Los Olivos at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn.

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 May 18, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: MOM-osas for Mother’s Day!

Photo vxla on Flickr: Pool-side Mimosas at The Standard Hotel, CC BY 2.0, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Photo vxla on Flickr: Pool-side Mimosas at The Standard Hotel, CC BY 2.0, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, which is the perfect time to indulge in Mimosas. According to new research from Versus Reviews, Mimosas are actually the most popular cocktail in California, as well as in Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland. It must be a coastal thing!

Traditional Mimosas are believed to have been invented at the Hotel Ritz Paris around 1925, and are probably named for their resemblance to the yellow flowers with the same name. They’re made with one part Champagne and one part orange juice and served in a Champagne flute, often at brunch.

Image and data source: Versus Reviews.

Image and data source: Versus Reviews.

Image and data source: Versus Reviews.

Image and data source: Versus Reviews.

While traditional Mimosas are great, there are load of variations. Here are a few favorites, which we’ll call MOM-osas in honor of this weekend:

The Buck’s Fizz, which has twice as much Champagne as orange juice!  

Daphne Oz‘s “Perfect Momosa Recipe” from The Chew, which adds elderflower liquor to the mix and substitutes Prosecco or another sparkling wine for the Champagne.

The Poinsettia switches the orange juice for cranberry juice, mixed with Champagne.

DrinkoftheWeek.com’s tasty MOMosa variation skips the OJ and mixes Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur and passion fruit juice with Champagne.

The Megmosa is equal parts Champagne and grapefruit juice, while pineapple juice and Champagne is called a Soleil.

Summer Mimosa, likely a Soilel variation, photo by waros, pixabay.com.

Summer Mimosa, likely a Soilel variation, photo by waros, pixabay.com.

Our friends at Seagram’s Escapes also have a fun “Momosa” recipe, which uses sparkling wine and their Wild Berry flavored drink.

Whatever you toast your mom with this weekend, make it a good one! 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 May 11, 2018.

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.