Unraveling the Kinks in the Local Food Chain to Build and Sustain a Resilient Food System

This story was published on cecsb.org on May 13, 2020.

Like a heat map, the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to areas of strain, places where we need to pay greater attention. One of the most noticeable of these is the food system.

This week, two of the founding members of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network — Erik Talkin, CEO of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and Sigrid Wright, CEO of the Community Environmental Council — sat down with food writer Leslie Dinaberg to discuss how COVID-19 is sending shock waves through a fragile global food system, and why this is a particularly good time to build a healthy, sustainable and decentralized food system. They draw on the guiding framework of an action plan published in 2016 and developed in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Orfalea Foundation, and more than 200 community members.

Leslie Dinaberg: A few years ago when you were developing the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, your intention was to “future proof” the local food system, though presumably, you weren’t anticipating that a pandemic would test it so brutally. What are you thinking now?

Sigrid Wright: We’ve had other disasters that have had a ripple effect through the food system, but the COVID 19 pandemic is sending reverberations through the system unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime, in part because it’s global, and in part because it’s both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. This is a good time to be talking about why we want to build a healthy, sustainable and decentralized food system, because the global system has a lot of fragility to it.

Erik Talkin: The food system now is so hyper-organized and so dependent on every little link of the chain from here to China and back, that one break in that chain creates a lot of problems. The Foodbank has seen a 60% decrease in the amount of food that we get donated because grocery stores are selling out of food that would normally be provided to us. At the same time, our donations from the agricultural community, primarily the Santa Maria Valley, are up by 50% from this same month last year.

So that’s an indication that local growers have products available. Obviously they have their own problems with food distribution, as there are no schools or hotels operating, but we have a system in place that has allowed excess food to be effectively used. People are reading in the New York Times and elsewhere about milk being poured away and crops being plowed under, but that’s not happening really significantly in California.

LD: Are there any supply chains that are likely to be disrupted so that you won’t be able to access certain products a few months from now?

ET: Yes, there already have been disruptions in that the supply chain is overheated and unable to respond to requests. The Foodbank spent a quarter of a million dollars a couple of weeks ago on food that we haven’t received yet, because it’s slow in coming and our order is not as big as other orders.

Overall, in theory, there’s enough food in the country, but in terms of specific foods, we are already unable to get everything we would like.

SW: The modern food system is designed for speed and convenience. It’s highly efficient and certain aspects of it are really compacted, particularly around meat processing. From what I’m hearing, I would expect to see shortages of meat within the next few months.

This relates to Santa Barbara County because although we’ve traditionally been a cattle region and still do raise a lot of cattle here, we no longer have processing facilities. The same is true of fisheries. We have access to a good amount of animal protein on the Central Coast, but everything has to be shipped out, processed, and shipped back. That was one of the many issues that surfaced with the Food Action Plan: how do we decentralize some of those processing facilities so they are local?

LD: What have you learned about Santa Barbara’s food resilience in the past couple months that you didn’t anticipate?

SW: On the production side, pretty much every small farmer and fisherman is having to think on their feet and make some drastic adjustments to their business models as people are shopping less at farmers markets, and as schools and restaurants stop their orders. They’re having to go direct-to-consumer, often in inventive ways, whether that be a pop-up farmstand or more community supported agriculture boxes. Managing those new market routes is like picking up a second job: the first one being food production, the second being the delivery and marketing through different channels.

I’m also really concerned for our local restaurants. After the Thomas Fire, many businesses were barely hanging on or were just starting to recover, and now they’ve gotten hit again. We may lose a lot of local capacity, both on the producer end with farmers and fishermen and then on the consumer end with restaurants. That to me is a sadness. I personally am not ready for a future in which I get most of my food from Amazon.

ET: There haven’t been the types of runs and shortages over the last few weeks that theoretically could have happened, but I think we are still at the beginning of this crisis. People are afraid to go out and stand in line to get food. Toward the end of the summer, once the economic impacts have really cut deep — with people who are working but have large debts, and people who are still out of work — we’ll have a huge need for additional food for the community. That food can’t all be produced here, but has to be purchased or donated within the state and nationally.

LD: Is there a government entity to help with that?

ET: There’s a national emergency food program called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that is designed to pay local distributors to put together food boxes and make those available to either Foodbanks or to be distributed directly. So we’re having to go out to all of these people and say, “Do you want to be involved in this program? You get paid to provide this food, you get paid to truck it to a particular location.” But it’s a hugely complex 17-page application. Companies like Jordano’s, which is probably our largest local direct food distributor, don’t want to be involved because there’s not enough money in it for them.

The government, in a way, is trying to respond to this issue of food being dumped by offering incentives further down the chain than previous incentives. But there’s not the time or the organization or the planning to make them successful in anything more than the very short term.

SW: The Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, which was spearheaded by CEC and the Foodbank to implement the Food Action Plan, is looking at how we deal with all of this locally. One solution is to create a food hub, so that those who have products have a central vehicle for getting information out about them.

LD: Let’s talk about how this situation is affecting labor. According to the Food Action Plan, the agricultural sector is Santa Barbara County’s primary economic driver, and nearly 20,000 residents work in food and beverage stores or service locations. What are you seeing?

SW: It’s a bitter irony that people who work in the food system — in the fields or grocery stores for example —are deemed as essential workers, and yet they are not being protected as essential workers.

In our region we are really seeing this with farm workers who just don’t have the proper protection and are often having to work shoulder to shoulder. We saw similar inequities in other crises like the Thomas Fire, where it wasn’t until groups like CAUSE and MICOP got involved when farm workers had access to the N-95 masks that everyone else already had. We need the public to strongly advocate for protection for our farm workers, our seasonal workers, our grocery workers, so that they have safe conditions.

ET: It should be a requirement for the employers to do that. Even at the Foodbank — we have very stringent rules and we’ve been wearing masks and gloves for weeks — people just can’t help congregating together in tiny spaces and I’m constantly chasing away people. (Laughs) I’ve been doing that for years, but now I have an excuse to break up the party.

LD: What are you seeing at the home level? Food waste is certainly top of mind right now because no one wants to go out and buy food any more than they have to.

ET: At the most basic level of individuals, people are being forced to reckon with having to provide for their own nutritional health and to sit down and make something to eat, which wasn’t necessarily the case in the past. This may be an opportunity for people to increase food literacy and their understanding about how to take care of themselves and be healthy with food.

SW: We’re clearly seeing a shift in shopping and eating patterns as more people are cooking at home. I know the news media are using the word “hoarding,” but I don’t love that language. What I’m seeing is that people are trying to do a couple weeks of shopping at one time to reduce their exposure. It’s good people are shifting their behavior, but that caused some of the slowdown that Erik referred to.

Again, it’s not that the supply chain has a shortage of food, although there may be some gaps in things that we may not have access to when and how we want it. I think we’ve gotten quite spoiled, frankly, because we’ve built a food system that was designed around getting things fast and conveniently. To really be resilient you need some amount of redundancy and things that are less consolidated.

LD: When you are providing food from the Foodbank, how many days worth of food are people picking up at one time?

ET: We typically give out bags of groceries that are about 30 pounds. We’ve begun to switch to boxes which are slightly bigger, so there’s a variety of dry goods, canned goods, fresh produce, fresh meat, but it’s not your total dietary or meal requirements for that period of time. The food that we provide is supposed to be a supplement to the other food you’re getting. It is possible to go to more than one place if your need is greater.

We see the need for that type of food increasing dramatically and there’s been a real kind of blockage with the USDA food. There’s definitely problems with the emergency food distribution network, as well.

LD: Beyond the critical need for emergency feeding, at this moment is there anything else that stands out from the Food Action Plan?

ET: I think people’s understanding of the need to have more fully developed local networks for both distribution and availability of food is important.

We talked earlier about the need for local processing for seafood and meat, but that’s also a need for agricultural products. For example, if facilities were available we could make spaghetti sauces and other things out of produce before it goes bad. There’s a lot of potential there, but it requires an investor. It may be something we have to think about in more of a tri-county way.

LD: That feels like such a great way to use some of those kitchens that aren’t being used right now.

SW: One of the projects of the Food Action Network was to map out sites that could serve as community kitchens. In good times they might be used to make the value-added products that Erik was talking about. If farmers had a bumper crop of tomatoes, they could hand that off to a caterer to go in for a couple of weeks and make tomato sauce, for example. In bad times like now, community kitchens could be used to help with disaster feeding.

LD: This is obviously an excellent opportunity for us to illustrate the importance of protecting the local food system. What are some things that individuals can do right now?

ET: Continuing to utilize local farmers markets, purchasing from smaller local stores to enable those stores to be able to weather the current situation, and keeping away from chain stores. I think that restaurants will be gradually opening up in a more limited fashion, so just make sure that you’re supporting local restaurants, even with a kind of take out environment that we have at the moment.

SW: At the moment there are still some strengths in the local food system, and there is some scrappiness. We are a community that does seem to care about this kind of stuff.

One of the outcomes of all of this is that people are actually talking about things like the food system, either using that phrase or having a great awareness. Hopefully that will have a positive effect. But protecting the local food system will mean that we will have to step in as individuals and really support it.

ET: Every generation needs something to wake it up a little, so I guess this is it.

Originally published on cecsb.org on May 13, 2020.

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Explore the Heart of Washington Wine Country

A sojourn to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland) is an excellent way to savor the heart of Washington Wine Country and experience a winning combination of sun, water and wine. Whether you want to tour wine country, play outdoors, feast on the local culinary bounty or enjoy a wide variety of cultural pursuits, the Tri-Cities has it all!

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start in Benton City with Washington’s hottest AVA, Red Mountain. Encompassing about 4,000 acres of vineyards, Red Mountain provides grapes to over 175 wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest, consistently earning critical acclaim. With 11 on-mountain wineries and tasting rooms to choose from, you’ll enjoy meeting with vintners during this hands-on experience. For an even more intimate exploration of the Red Mountain Trails, ride from winery to winery on horseback or take a horse-drawn  wagon ride. Redmountainava.com | redmountaintrails.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Get outside and breathe some fresh air along the sparkling Columbia River. There are fun, outdoor recreation activities for everyone, with stand up paddle board yoga, bike rentals, kayaking and more available. greenielife.comnorthwestpaddleboarding.com

11 a.m. Visit Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village in historic downtown Kennewick for an urban tasting experience at their boutique tasting rooms and wine production facilities.

12:30 p.m. Choose from one of the three charming wineries on Tulip Lane in Richland —J. Bookwalter, Barnard Griffin and Tagaris — for cuisine that’s expertly paired with their wines. bookwalterwines.combarnardgriffin.com | tagariswines.com

3:30 p.m. Indulge in a bit more tasting, with a number of excellent wineries to choose from in Richland and Kennewick, including Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, Longship Cellars, Badger Mountain Vineyard & Powers Winery, Kitzke Cellars, Farmhand Winery and Market Vineyards. gooseridge.com | longshipcellars.combadgermtnvineyard.comkitzkecellars.com | farmhandwinery.commarketvineyards.com

6 p.m. Revel in a stunning sunset and a gourmet dinner, as well as all of the luxuries of a 96-foot yacht, on a Water2Wine Cruise along the Columbia River. water2winecruises.com

DAY 3

10 a.m. Enjoy the short drive from the urban Tri-Cities to the small, agricultural community of Prosser. Often recognized as the “Birthplace of Washington Wine,” Prosser has a variety of wineries to visit at the Prosser Wine & Food Park. Vintner’s Village has over 12 wineries, as well as the Winemaker’s Loft, a winery incubator that houses a half-dozen wineries and tasting rooms. gotastewine.com/prosservintners-village.php

2 p.m. Don’t miss the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. Named after Washington wine pioneer Dr. Walter Clore, the Clore Center is a unique wine tasting and education destination that showcases Washington wine’s quality and diversity by offering an in-depth taste of each wine region. theclorecenter.org

There are always loads of special events going on in the Tri-Cities, with entertainment for all ages and interests. May’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is a true cultural experience with traditional music, amazing Mexican cuisine, horse dancing and more. June’s Cool Desert Nights takes car-lovers throughout the Tri-Cities. Every July brings the three-day Tri-City Water Follies boat racing tournament. Labor Day weekend is the Tumbleweed Music Festival, with more than 100 talented performers participating in three days of amazing concerts and events, many of which are free. Check out visittri-cities.com/events to stay up-to-date on all of the local happenings.

VisitTri-Cities.com

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Leavenworth, Washington

Sip Trip: Leavenworth. Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

A Slice of Germany in the Pacific Northwest

The charming Bavarian village of Leavenworth (leavenworth.org) is an exciting hub for enjoying culinary experiences, art and adventure. The wine is as wow-worthy as the region itself, with more than 25 wineries and tasting rooms pouring award-winning wines and ciders. Just two hours east of Seattle, Leavenworth is an ideal destination to uncork two days full of fun activities.

DAY 1

9 a.m. Wake up in the beautiful Bavarian Lodge, which offers all of the amenities of a sumptuous city hotel with the character of a small country inn. The Turret suites have exceptional views of the downtown village and mountains. bavarianlodge.com

10 a.m. After a well-rounded breakfast (included at your hotel), grab your gear and head to the Ski Hill trails, which are perfect for biking and hiking. Take a deep breath and treat your lungs to the wonderfully clean fresh mountain air. After a good workout, reward yourself with a cold beer on the deck of the historic Ski Hill Lodge, one of the last facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936. The views and vibe are well worth it. skileavenworth.com

1 p.m. Grab a bite in town at Pavz Cafe Bistro; with their handmade crepes (both sweet and savory) it is the perfect spot. Smile at the colorful alpine style buildings while you stroll and visit unique shops. The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is worth a stop — they have the largest collection of nutcrackers in the U.S. pavzcafebistro.comnutcrackermuseum.com

3 p.m. There are over two dozen tasting rooms in and around town, with lots of opportunities to try out local favorites, like a glass of refreshing White Riesling at Icicle Ridge Winery, WooHoo Winery tasting room’s Berry Sangria, or the Montage Red Blend at Eagle Creek Winery’s tasting room in town, d’Vinery. icicleridgewinery.com | woohoowinery.com | eaglecreekwinery.com

7 p.m. Sit outside at Blewett Brewing Company and enjoy one of their small-batch craft beers on tap and handcrafted artisan pizzas like Sister Kathy (with braised crimini mushrooms) or the zesty barbecued Sweet Daddy. blewettbrew.com

9 p.m. End a positively great day with some live music and dancing at Bushel and Bee Taproom, featuring a rotating lineup of 12 ciders and 12 beers on tap, or the family-friendly Leavenworth Cider House, which, in addition to great local and regional ciders, offers cidermaker dinners and cider education courses. bushelandbee.com | leavenworthcider.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Brighten your morning with a trip to the Tumwater Bakery & Pizza, and fuel up for the day with their avocado toast on freshly baked artisan bread or a variety of their pastries, like the jam scones, pumpkin cream cheese muffins and almond croissants made fresh daily. tumwaterbakery.com

10 a.m. Time to hit the river. The Wenatchee River runs right through town and boasts some of the best river rafting in the Pacific Northwest, so book a trip with a local company and get into some foam-eating fun!

6 p.m. You’ll be looking for some good food after a day on the water, and the folks at Yodelin Broth Company have got you covered. Their bone broth soups, healthy power salads and gourmet burgers taste even better on their outdoor patio overlooking the beautiful Enchantments. yodelinrestaurantgroup.com

8 p.m. Take in a play at the Leavenworth Summer Theater. Their signature show, “The Sound of Music,” is outdoors, in the mountains and under the stars. The hills are truly alive! leavenworthsummertheater.org

10 p.m. Before you retire for the night, stop by the charming Pika Provisions cocktail bar for a nightcap. pikaprovisions.com

Keep an eye on the calendar for even more special happenings. There’s something to celebrate in downtown Leavenworth all year long. leavenworth.org/calendar

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Paso Robles, California

A Wine Lover’s Paradise

California’s fastest-growing wine region, Paso Robles truly is a dream come true for wine lovers. More than 250 wineries dot the countryside amongst Paso Robles’ 40,000 vineyard acres, many of which are small boutique producers. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Central Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this exceptional locale offers untouched natural beauty, farm-fresh cuisine, 250+ wineries, a historic downtown surrounded by specialty shopping, wine tasting and dining, a wide selection of accommodations, golf, entertainment and a vibrant arts scene.

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start your day on the East Side of Paso Robles with a visit to one of the wineries that helped put Paso on the map, Eberle Winery. Gary Eberle was a pioneer and one of the first to plant Syrah in California, and later helped make Cabernet Sauvignon so popular in the area — his first Eberle label wine was the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon. eberlewinery.com

Then pay a visit to Glunz Family Winery & Cellars, a fourth generation winemaking family who recently opened their winery in Paso after sourcing grapes there for many years. glunzfamilywinery.com

1 p.m. Visit DAOU Vineyards & Winery for an amazing culinary experience that’s a perfect pairing of wine, cuisine and limitless views on the crown of DAOU Mountain, as well as a tribute to the Lebanese culinary heritage of the Daou family. daouvineyards.com

3 p.m. Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery never disappoints — also visit the Vina Robles Amphitheater and check out their concert lineup. They’ve hosted everybody from Willie Nelson to Tony Bennett, and the Beach Boys and Barenaked Ladies are already on deck for 2020. vinarobles.com

5:30 p.m. Head downtown for a beautiful evening around the historic Downtown City Park. Several amazing restaurants surround the park — La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, Thomas Hill Organics and the new French favorite, Les Petites Canailles. lacosechabr.com | thomashillorganics.com | lpcrestaurant.com

10 p.m. When you’re ready to call it a night, accommodations around the park include the classic (tried and true) Paso Robles Inn. Also nearby, Hotel Cheval is a small luxury inn and a few miles east is the lovely Allegretto Vineyard Resort. hotelcheval.com | pasoroblesinn.comallegrettovineyardresort.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Grab a strong coffee at Spearhead Coffee and hit the road. Start your wine tasting adventures with Grey Wolf & Barton Family Wines — try their amazing white wines and unique Paso blends. Then head on to one of the many smaller, family-owned wineries like Clos Solène, owned by French couple Guillaume and Solène Fabre; or reach out to Ledge Vineyards for a private tasting — it’s owned by local musician and friend to all Mark Adams, and they make beautiful Rhônes and blends. spearheadcoffee.com | bartonfamilywines.com | clossolene.comledgevineyards.com

1 p.m. Opolo Vineyards has great wood-fired pizzas on their patio, along with lovely wines. Sip and savor as you enjoy the views of their walnut orchard and over 70 acres of vines. Also on-site are handcrafted spirits by Willow Creek Distillery. opolo.com

2:30 p.m. Stop by Thacher Winery and Vineyard, a boutique operation that specializes in dry farming on the historic, 52-acre Kentucky Ranch. Make an appointment at Denner Vineyards to visit their Comus Crush tasting room, where the exterior windows have vineyard views and the interior windows provide a peek into what’s happening on the winery fermentation floor. thacherwinery.comdennervineyards.com

4:30 p.m. Don’t miss the chance to visit Tablas Creek, which specializes in Rhône-style wine and is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands. tablascreek.com

7 p.m. Dine on rustic Italian fare at the romantic and intimate Il Cortile, a local favorite with one of the best wine lists in the area. ilcortileristorante.com

9 p.m. Wrap up your evening at the new boutique hotel property, The Piccolo. Their Tetto rooftop bar is the first in the area and serves Paso-centric wine and craft cocktails, a perfect way to cap off a magical two days in Paso Robles. thepiccolo.com

There’s so much more to enjoy in Paso Robles, you could easily spend another day tasting, sipping and exploring this exciting wine region. For additional resources and itinerary ideas, visit travelpaso.com and pasowine.com.

 

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Rogue Valley

Sip Trip: Rogue Valley, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

A Global Wine Destination With Bucolic Charm

The natural beauty of Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley wine country and its four wine trails — Upper Rogue, Bear Creek, Applegate and Jacksonville — are just a part of what makes this area a top global wine destination.

DAY 1: ASHLAND

9 a.m. Begin your morning at Ashland’s Lithia Springs Resort (7), where you can immerse yourself in four acres of lush, English-inspired gardens. Relax with a natural mineral water soak in the privacy of your bungalow, followed by a delicious hot breakfast buffet. lithiaspringsresort.com

11 a.m. Explore the hills along the back roads of the Bear Creek Wine Trail. Set on 40 beautiful acres, with views of nearby Grizzly Peak and Mount Ashland, Grizzly Peak Winery is a haven from the busy world. The tasting room showcases 12–15 distinct wines. grizzlypeakwinery.com

Weisinger Family Winery (6) is committed to producing limited-production wines created exclusively from local vineyards. Sip the signature Gewürztraminer (along with other varietals), which John Weisinger first planted with the help of his three young children in 1978. weisingers.com

2:30 p.m. A cultivated tasting under the oak tree at Irvine & Roberts Vineyards (3) (5) is a lovely way to relax and have a knowledgeable wine ambassador craft an intimate tasting experience, paired with artisanal cheeses and house-made delicacies. irvinerobertsvineyards.com

4 p.m. Take a stroll in downtown Ashland. Right off the plaza is Lithia Park, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2019. This charming gem was designed by John McClaren, who also designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

6 p.m. You’re in for a treat at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, an authentic farm-to-table experience that celebrates Oregon’s bounty with dishes that excite and surprise with freshness and flavors. Located in downtown’s Ashland Springs Hotel, it also has a second location at Inn at the Commons in Medford. larksashland.com

7 p.m. Grab a drink at the Wine Garden at Lithia Springs Resort, which features an excellent selection of Southern Oregon wines, particularly those from the Applegate Valley.

8 p.m. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a must-see. This legendary company has been entertaining theatergoers since 1935, and offers up to 11 different shows each year — both Shakespeare and a mix of classics, musicals and world premieres — from March through October. osfashland.org

DAY 2: MEDFORD/APPLEGATE

10 a.m. Just 15 minutes north of Ashland is Medford, the heart of the Rogue Valley, with easy access to Interstate 5 and Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport. Home of the world-famous Harry & David Country Village, it offers entertaining and educational tours daily. Start your day in downtown Medford and experience farm-to-fork culinary culture with breakfast at Over Easy or brunch at the popular Downtown Market. downtownmarketco.comovereasysouthernoregon.com

Medford is home to more than half a dozen wineries, including 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery (1), whose tasting room pays tribute to the grand agricultural buildings of yesteryear, exuding rustic charm on the site of the original farmhouse dating back to the 1950s. Also in Medford is DANCIN Vineyards (2), a culinary and viticulture destination of beauty, taste, style, authentic hospitality and award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This estate winery has seven unique seating areas to enjoy while you drink and dine. 2hawk.wine | dancin.com

Next, it’s on to the Jacksonville Wine Trail to taste the small lot wines of Quady North, where the focus is on vineyard-select Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Syrah wines that are expressions of the climate, soils and people who farm them. quadynorth.com

Don’t miss Rellik Winery’s newly remodeled tasting room in Jacksonville. Sip a glass of their Three-Eyed Raven Red Blend and enjoy a scenic view of the pond as well as the 15 adorable alpacas and the llama that reside on the property! rellikwinery.com

12:30 p.m. Make your way to the Applegate Wine Trail, where forested hillsides surround a valley that is fertile and temperate, hosting numerous fields of fragrant lavender, alongside 19 unique wineries producing a diverse array of high-quality wines. A working ranch since 1858, Plaisance Ranch’s unique tasting room is located in the milk refrigeration room of the former dairy barn. Plaisance is French for “pleasure” and it’s indeed a delight to taste their wines in this warm and cozy atmosphere. plaisanceranch.com

2:30 p.m. Wisconsin isn’t the only “cheesehead” state. Rogue River Blue cheese, made by Rogue Creamery, was named the best cheese in the world at the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Italy. Stop by the Central Point Artisan Corridor to see the cheese production room and factory and try the solar-powered grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as plenty of artisan cheese, chocolate and charcuterie samples. roguecreamery.com

3:30 p.m. On your way to see the amazing Crater Lake National Park (4), meander through the Upper Rogue Wine Trails to enjoy the unique experience of four different wineries, four different families, and four different interpretations of the grape along with beautiful countryside. upperroguewinetrail.com

7:30 p.m. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, get a taste of Old Town Oregon history at Porters in downtown Medford, a classic American dining experience in a historic 1910 landmark train depot. porterstrainstation.com

During the summer months, the Britt Music & Art Festival is another great addition to the cultural calendar. This naturally formed amphitheater, surrounded by majestic trees on a beautiful hillside estate, sets the stage for world-class artists in classical music, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, world, pop and country music. brittfest.org

10:30 p.m. Feeling thirsty after the show? Common Block Brewery is a convivial, family-friendly taproom that serves 30+ beers, wines and ciders on tap, as well as a full menu of casual brew pub fare. commonblockbrewing.com

Rest your weary bones at Inn at the Commons. This reimagined 1960s motor inn is conveniently located in downtown Medford’s vibrant corridor, with numerous shops, cafes, restaurants and theatres within a short walk. innatthecommons.com

With so much to taste, sip and do, there’s plenty more if you decide to stay another night to explore more of Southern Oregon’s hospitality that makes the Rogue Valley a unique wine destination.

For additional resources, visit travelmedford.org, travelashland.com and southernoregon.org.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Livermore, California

Sip Trip: Livermore, California, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Uncork Livermore Valley’s Many Delights

Renowned hospitality and easy access make the charming Livermore Valley an idyllic destination to savor California’s great wines and natural beauty. Situated on the sunny side of the San Francisco Bay, this welcoming wine region of 50+ wineries has a colorful history that began with Spanish missionaries in the 1760s.

11 a.m. Hop aboard the iconic Livermore Wine Trolley and leave the driving to them for a unique experience and fun day of wine tasting adventures while traveling through the beautiful Livermore Valley Wine Country! Choose the “Taste of Livermore” wine tour or Private Charter available year round. livermorewinetrolley.com

11:30 a.m. Your first stop is Big White House, specializing in handcrafted, small-lot wines, featuring beautifully designed portrait labels by artist Laura Marion — sister of winemaker John Evan Marion — whose original oil paintings are found throughout the tasting room. bigwhitehouse.com

12:30 p.m. McGrail Vineyards and Winery is the next destination where you’ll taste award-winning wines. The tasting room has a covered patio, overlooking the estate vineyard, with panoramic views of Mount Diablo. The lawn is a favorite spot for picnics, bocce ball, summer concerts and yoga classes. mcgrailvineyards.com

1:30 p.m. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at Garré Cafe, located on the beautiful Garré Vineyard & Winery property, surrounded by vines, rose gardens and the chef ’s herb and vegetable garden. garrewinery.com

3 p.m. Believing that great wine brings people together, father-daughter duo Alexandra and Ken Henkelman have brought their dream to life with Omega Road Winery, which welcomes guests to an intimate tasting room experience featuring unique wines that are only available on-site. omegaroadwinery.com

4 p.m. Part of a historic Victorian property, Retzlaff Vineyards and Estate Winery offers organically certified wines (no pesticides, no herbicides, no fertilizers, non-GMO) in a spectacular location nestled among ancient pepper trees and sprawling vineyards. retzlaffvineyards.com

5 p.m. Check-in at Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort and Spa, a luxury log-cabin-style resort with a rose garden and spa. Rest up by the pool before a night out. purpleorchid.com

6 p.m. Stroll through picturesque downtown and its charming mix of shops and restaurants set within historic architecture. Then enjoy a warm American dining experience at Zephyr Grill & Bar, where Executive Chef Jesus Martinez has been feeding eager diners since 2004. If you still feel like tasting wines, Zephyr offers an array of flights, from Worldly Whites and Tiny Bubbles to the Finest Reds. zephyrgrill.com

The Next Day

9 a.m. Start your day with a delicious hot breakfast at the Purple Orchid’s community table. In the mood for more Livermore Valley adventures? Compare notes with your neighbors on more vineyards and attractions to explore.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

THE BUZZ | DESIGN DESTINATION: RH Yountville

RH Yountville, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

An enchanting, elegant and extremely upscale amalgamation of food, wine, art and design, RH Yountville showcases a dazzling new experience in the heart of Napa Valley.

The five-building compound features a chic indoor-outdoor restaurant where guests dine to the sounds of water trickling from dramatic seven-foot fountains under a towering glass roof, surrounded by 100-year-old heritage olive trees and sparkling crystal chandeliers.

Previously known as Restoration Hardware, parent company RH launched this flagship project in 2019, marking Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman’s ongoing collaboration with celebrated restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff and award-winning design architect James Gillam of Backen & Gillam (recognized as one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 architecture and design firms in the world, including more than a dozen top estate winery projects).

“RH Yountville reflects our vision for creating inspiring spaces and authentic experiences that respect and amplify the local culture. This is an inherently personal project given our nearby headquarters in Marin County,” said Friedman.

In addition to RH Restaurant, featuring an ingredient-driven menu with elevated interpretations of timeless classics like ribeye steaks, lobster rolls and housemade pastas, as well as an extensive brunch menu, RH Yountville also includes a two-story stone Wine Vault at the historic Ma(i)sonry building.

Originally home to one of Napa’s first vintners in the early 20th century, the landmark building has been transformed with a 24-foot cedar ceiling, rough-cut fieldstone walls, luxe lounge seating and a monumental limestone bar. Visitors can discover a curated selection of rare, limited-production wines from some of the valley’s top small producers, as well as classic champagnes.

Adjacent to The Wine Vault is an outdoor Wine and Barista Bar serving craft espresso, teas, fresh cold-pressed juices and wines by the glass. Also on the property are two boutique design galleries, featuring globally sourced antiques and inspired objects — all connected by lush garden courtyards with granite and bluestone walking paths and outdoor living room areas that can be reserved for wine tastings.

For more information, visit restorationhardware.com/content/ category.jsp?context=Restaurant_YV.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting

This 25 Top Experiences Feature is a great way to do some armchair traveling! Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

New Zealand, Croatia, Ireland and England — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia; Finger Lakes, New York; Virginia and Michigan — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Texas, New Mexico, Sierra Foothills (CA), Santa Barbara County (CA) and Paso Robles (CA) — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Napa Valley, CA (this section by Hana-Lee Sedgwick) — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Sonoma County, CA (this section by Hana-Lee Sedgwick) — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Livermore (CA), Lodi (CA), Rogue Valley (OR) and Willamette Valley (OR) — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Hood River (OR), Woodinville (WA), Walla Walla (WA) and Prosser, Yakima Valley (WA) — from the Top Experiences: 25 Ways to Enjoy Touring & Tasting, originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

There are so many wonderful travel destinations for wine lovers these days, narrowing down the list to our top 25 experiences was quite a challenge.

Spectacular scenery, gorgeous vineyards and top-notch vino are all essentials, of course. We also tried to come up with a balanced mix of must-sees and more off-the-beaten-track fun activities to reflect the vast array of interests and price points available for today’s trekkers.

Here are but a few of the many, many wonderful, fun and unique ways to stoke your wanderlust and your oenophilia. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or just beginning to develop your wine adventure bucket list, here are 25 destinations that are ripe for the sipping.

New Zealand

STAY HERE The perfect place for wine lovers to unwind and explore, Hans Herzog Vineyard Cottage in Marlborough is a secluded, romantic spot tucked away among the vines. This hidden gem has a large veranda with panoramic views, with an enchanting private garden featuring a water lily pond. Plus it’s just steps away from the boutique Hans Herzog winery, wine lounge, gourmet restaurant, vineyards and bistro. For a special treat, reserve the Winemaker Table — an exclusive long lunch hosted by Therese and Hans Herzog, who share their incredible wine knowledge and tales of wine growing, wine making and fine wines from around the world. herzog.co.nz

SIP THIS Vines cascade beautifully to the water’s edge at Rippon Winery, making it the most photographed vineyard in New Zealand, if not the world. Set against a backdrop of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps, Rippon’s breathtaking landscape is home to mature vine Pinot Noirs that are as impressive as the view. rippon.co.nz

DINE HERE Step back in time at the Moutere Inn, New Zealand’s Oldest Pub (circa 1850). Since 2008, the Inn has been a craft beer freehouse with 13 rotating taps from around the country, including real ale handpumps. All of their wines are sourced within 10 km of the Inn, with pub meals made from scratch. moutereinn.co.nz

DO THIS Central Otago is the adventure capital of New Zealand and that includes world-class cycling trails. The Otago Central Rail Trail is on many “don’t miss” lists. The Roxburgh Gorge Trail is known as the Grand Canyon of New Zealand, and the Clutha Gold Trail follows the powerful Clutha River and showcases the region’s farming, fruit growing and gold mining history. newzealand.com |otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz | centralotagonz.com/roxburgh-gorge-trail

Croatia

STAY HERE It’s no wonder that in HBO’s epic fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” the Croatian city of Dubrovnik doubled for King’s Landing. A five-star seaside escape, Hotel Dubrovnik Palace features breathtaking Adriatic views from every room, as well as direct access to a quiet and peaceful beach, three swimming pools, scuba diving center, tennis courts, and a leafy jogging path and walking routes through the picturesque woods that rise up the hills behind the hotel. adriaticluxuryhotels.com/hotel-dubrovnik-palace

SIP THIS Saints Hills Winery sits in an old stone house in the little village of Oskorušno. “Vinaria,” which was a winery up until the 1920s and then sat dormant for 80 years, is once again a winery, producing acclaimed bottles from a number of different regions around Croatia. Don’t miss visiting the traditional Dalmatian restaurant, the Treasury tasting room and the property’s three vineyards. saintshills.com

DINE HERE Truffle hunting with cute dogs (primarily terriers) in Buzet’s forests, followed by a truffle feast, promises an unforgettable foodie experience. The natural habitat of the famed Istrian fungus is home to the Prodan Tartufi business, which provides truffles to the world, as well as guided truffle adventures and an authentic family-run experience. prodantartufi.hr

DO THIS Croatia’s natural beauty is on full display with eight national parks offering a diverse array of activities for hikers, rock climbers and island hoppers. find-croatia.com/national-parks

Ireland

STAY HERE A nautical landmark for almost 200 years, Clare Island Lighthouse is perched high on craggy cliffs at the entrance to Clew Bay, off Ireland’s western Atlantic coast. Now lovingly converted into a boutique hotel, the property offers luxurious accommodations surrounded by magnificent sea views — with loads of nesting seabirds — and beautiful countryside with hills, bogs and woodlands that are ideal for walking and perfect for a peaceful escape. clareislandlighthouse.com

SIP THIS David Llewellyn, owner of Llewellyns Orchard, is probably best known for his cider and other apple products, but for the past decade he has been selling wine made from the nearly 1,000 vines on his farm in North County Dublin. The small-production vineyard produces a line of wine called Lusca, Gaelic for Lusk (“vault” or “cave”), which is the name of the village where the vineyard and orchard are located. Make an appointment to visit and uncork the true farm-to-table essence of Irish wine. llewellynsorchard.ie/premium-quality-from-irish-orchards/lusca-irish-wine

DINE HERE Take a cooking class in the original 18th-century Georgian kitchen in historic Howth Castle, where the team of professional chefs at Howth Castle Cookery School share their passion and knowledge about food and carry on the traditions of exceptional cooking and grand dining practiced in the castle for centuries. howthcastlecookeryschool.ie

DO THIS See what the excitement is all about when you join the more than 20 million guests who have visited Guinness Storehouse — a 125-foot high attraction (it would take 14.3 million pints of Guinness to fill the giant glass atrium in the center of the building) devoted to the story of Ireland’s most iconic beer. Begin your journey at the bottom of the world’s largest pint glass and continue up through seven floors filled with interactive experiences that fuse Guinness’s long brewing heritage with Ireland’s rich history. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a pint at world-famous rooftop Gravity Bar, with incredible panoramic views. guinness-storehouse.com

England

STAY HERE It’s not every day you get to spend the night in a shepherd’s hut, belle tent, yurt or wigwam (some with private hot tubs) at a working organic farm. Secret Valley in Somerset offers a wondrous mix of Christmas trees, alpacas, glamping and wine making. Lucky guests can tour the vineyard to learn about Secret Valley’s five varieties of grape — Pinot Noir, Rondo, Orion, Solaris and Reichensteiner — or simply enjoy the glamping life of kicking back with a glass of wine and watching the sunset over beautiful rolling hills. secret-valley.co.uk

SIP THIS The creators of the only English wine ever to have been listed at the George V in Paris, Nicholas Coates and Christian Seely are old friends who embarked on a quest in 2008 to create a sparkling wine to rival the best in the world. They succeeded indeed, and you can sip their sparklers (by appointment) at the bucolic Coates & Seely vineyards in the ancient chalk downlands of Hampshire, in Southern England, where they have spent the past decade creating their international award-winning sparkling wines, using their “Britannique” method proudly declared on their label. coatesandseely.com

DINE HERE British celebrity chef Rick Stein has cooked for the Queen of England and Prince Philip, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and French President Jacques Chirac, among others. You can experience his famous fresh catch at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. An iconic spot since 1975, it was also the subject of several popular BBC TV shows. Uber enthusiasts can also enroll in the on-site cookery school to learn to cook the Rick Stein way. rickstein.com

DO THIS Educate your taste buds at Cambridgeshire Wine School. Nestled among Cambridge’s stunning architecture and canals, the school offers relaxed and informal instruction in the ancient art of wine tasting. cambridgeshirewineschool.com

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

STAY HERE An elegant wellness spa inspired by the simple elegance of the Okanagan landscape, Sparkling Hill Resort is the culmination of the vision of Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family. A total of 3.5 million Swarovski crystals dance within the resort’s walls, creating an ambiance of calm and serenity with the occasional fiery sparkle. Between the stunning location and holistic treatments, this is an excellent place to relax and refresh. sparklinghill.com

SIP THIS Savor your way along a meandering country road with spectacular views of vineyards, mountains and Okanagan Lake, as you taste your way through more than 20 wineries that draw on the rich terroir of the Naramata Bench. Each winery is dedicated to bringing out the superb local qualities in their wine making, and to providing a personal, relaxed and authentic experience for visitors. naramatabench.com

EAT HERE A partnership between Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and British Columbia culinary legend Manuel Ferreira, Miradoro Restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy panoramic views of the valley with Mediterranean-inspired cuisine emphasizing seasonal, locally sourced ingredients prepared by an award-winning chef. From the authentic forno oven to a diverse wine list (including library wines), this is the place for food lovers to indulge. tinhorn.com/Restaurant

DO THIS The Great Bear Rainforest is a vast area of pristine wilderness that encompasses a quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest. Soak up a whole lot of silence and drink in the lush green surroundings of the only corner of the planet where you can spot the elusive white Kermode bear, also known as the “spirit bear.” hellobc.com

Finger Lakes, New York

STAY HERE Located on the first winery to open on Seneca Lake in 1977, The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars offers 30 rooms with private patios or balconies and stunning views of the lake and vineyards on the beautifully groomed 40-acre estate of Glenora Wine Cellars. glenora.com

SIP THIS With a community of more than 35 wineries, a distillery, two breweries and a meadery, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail in the heart of New York state’s Finger Lakes region is the largest and most active wine trail in New York. Taste classic, well-known European wine varieties like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Grüner Veltliner, alongside unique regional hybrids such as Traminette or Marechal Foch, and classic natives such as Catawba and Niagara. senecalakewine.com

EAT HERE The high end, low brow food at F.L.X. Weinery is an ideal way to enjoy some sustenance between stops on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. This venture by the husband and wife team Isabel Bogadtke and Christopher Bates is a fascinating amalgamation of their years in the fine dining world (he’s a master sommelier and they also own Element Winery) with fast, casual counter-style service. Think fresh ground burgers with creative toppings like Korean kimchi and miso mayo, and hearty dogs — including house-made brats, chorizo and Italian sausages — with a variety of toppings, most of which are locally sourced. flxwienery.com

DO THIS Dazzle your senses at the home of the largest glass collection in the world. Nearly 50,000 glass objects are on display at the Corning Museum of Glass, which also offers live hot glassmaking and flameworking shows each day, as well as opportunities to work with glass yourself during a Make Your Own Glass experience at The Studio. cmog.org

Virginia

STAY HERE Providing the finest of accommodations since it opened its doors in 1895, The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia has been regarded as one of America’s best by countless distinguished guests, including 12 U.S. Presidents, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Elvis Presley. jeffersonhotel.com

SIP THIS Visit the eight wineries located in the Chesapeake Bay wine region, which encompasses the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula of Virginia. Don’t miss the Chesapeake Bay Trail’s newest member, Rivah Vineyards at the Grove, with 125 scenic acres of farm, woods and riverfront on the Yeocomico River. chesapeakebaywinetrail.com | rivahvineyards.com

EAT HERE Located in the Landsdowne Resort & Spa in Leesburg, Coton & Rye celebrates Virginia’s rich culinary history. Inspired by a farm that stood on the land in the 1700s, this is a tavern with classic Virginia recipes reinvented. lansdowneresort.com

DO THIS Soar among the treetops on the luxurious grounds of Salamander Resort & Spa, home to Empower Adventures’ TreeTop Zip tour in Middleburg. This 20-acre guided experience includes five fast zip lines, two sky bridges and eight stations. Post adventure, enjoy a celebratory glass of wine or a relaxing spa treatment. empoweradventures.com

Michigan

STAY HERE Nestled among the freshwater beaches and hardwood forests of Traverse City, with three championship golf courses, an award-winning spa and restaurant, the 900-acre Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is certainly one of Michigan’s foremost resort destinations. grandtraverseresort.com

SIP THIS Chateau Grand Traverse is one of the oldest and largest wineries and vineyards in northern Michigan. This scenic, family-owned and -operated winery offers guests premium wine tasting, winery tours, lodging and a beautiful setting. Tour the bustling wine cellar to witness firsthand premium wine production from the vine to the bottle. cgtwines.com

EAT HERE There are 32,000 acres of tart cherries planted in Michigan, and Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor is the largest cherry exporter in the world. Take a crooked pathway under the cherry trees and through perennial gardens to the Great Hall, where you can buy 200+ cherry products and sample to your heart’s content. Visit the Winery, and head to the Cherry Public House to enjoy inventive cherry-inspired selections. cherryrepublic.com/locations/glen-arbor

DO THIS Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and take the 7.4 mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, looping through the forest and sand dunes and spectacular overlooks of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan. nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/psscenicdrive.htm

Texas

STAY HERE Wake up in the beautiful Texas Hill Country to the comforts of home, and enjoy breakfast in the privacy of your room at The Back Forty of Fredericksburg, a charming bed and breakfast, spa and ranch. Watch the Peruvian Pasos in training, enjoy a massage at the European Spa Center or try your hand at fly fishing at the on-site lake. back40-fredericksburg.com

SIP THIS One of the fastest growing wine destinations in the nation, Texas Hill Country has more than 80 wineries. For a nice overview of the region’s offerings, visit The Grapevine tasting room and bar in the Gruene Historic District, which features one of the largest selections of Texas wines available in one place. grapevineingruene.com

DINE HERE Last year the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe celebrated its 90th year of serving up tasty comfort food in the Texas Hill Country. The list of honors for this sweet slice of down-home heaven are impressive: best breakfast, best restaurant, best service, best dessert, best chicken-fried steak, and on and on and on. bluebonnetcafe.net

DO THIS Do-si-do over to a real Texas dance hall. Built in 1878, Gruene Hall in New Braunfels is the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas — and the most famous! Live entertainment fills the air of this 6,000-square-foot space. A long list of music legends like George Strait, Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett have come to Gruene Hall to pay respects and try out new material. gruenehall.com

New Mexico

STAY HERE Visit New Mexico in style. A 25,000-square-foot stone mansion that was once Ted Turner’s private quarters, Casa Grande sits on a 590,000-acre preserve and bison ranch, opening onto expanses of prairie and mountains full of wildlife and more than 180 species of birds. As you navigate through the marble column hallways of this historic home turned seven-room hotel, you’ll feel transported to an elegant 1920s soirée. vermejoparkranch.com

SIP THIS Located in scenic northern New Mexico, Black Mesa Winery owners Jerry and Lynda Burd produce over 25 wines from local grapes. Lynda designs the hieroglyphic-influenced labels, many of which are inspired by actual writings on the property. blackmesawinery.com

DINE HERE There’s an incredible amount of great food in Santa Fe, which is arguably the food capital of New Mexico. Suzan, where Chef Fernando Olea has been enthralling diners since 1991 with his unique interpretations of contemporary and traditional Mexican dishes, is notable, particularly for the mole sauces. sazonsantafe.com

DO THIS Check out the Santa Fe Margarita Trail to visit some of the fun spots offering special, uniquely designed Margaritas. Pick up a free passport for directions and recipes. bit.ly/2R5aXRrMargarita

Sierra Foothills, California

STAY HERE Serving the public since 1856, Murphys Historic Hotel is centrally located in Calaveras County and California’s historic Gold Rush country. The hotel offers easy access to wineries, art galleries, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Yosemite National Park, and outdoor activities like golf, skiing, river rafting, cycling, gold panning, fishing and hiking. One of a hundred Wells Fargo Bank stops with a long history of famous guests — including Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Susan B. Anthony and John Wayne — this historic landmark is a favorite destination for visitors. murphyshotel.com

SIP THIS Mark Twain gave the area its first claim to fame with his best-selling story “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” but Calaveras County is now home to family vineyards and wineries that produce award-winning, handcrafted wines and offer unique tasting experiences as well as events at 30 boutique tasting rooms and wineries. Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Foothills, the area is known for rich reds like Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet. calaveraswines.org

DINE HERE Downtown Plymouth, the gateway to Amador Wine Country, is home to Taste Restaurant and Wine Bar, which has been consistently rated as the area’s best dining experience for its creative wine pairings, fresh seasonal foods and simply elegant preparations. restauranttaste.com

DO THIS  Explore the farms and ranches in El Dorado’s Apple Hill area. The Apple Hill Growers have expanded from 16 original ranchers in 1964 to more than 50 ranchers who share the fruits of their labor with thousands of visitors every year. Enjoy berry farms, u-pick apple ranches, pastries, pies, the locally famous “Apple Hill Cake,” and old-fashioned fun, as well as fine wines and handcrafted beers in an incredible Sierra-soaked setting. applehill.com

Santa Barbara County, California

STAY HERE The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort blends the spirit of the Old West with loads of things to do in a pristine natural setting. You can fish or boat in the private lake, get pampered at the spa, hit the links, spend time in the barnyard, ride horses along 50 miles of trails or learn to shoot at the archery and air rifle sites. alisal.com

DINE HERE A charming “California version of a little Italian farmhouse” with a focus on unfussy, rustic Italian food made from fresh local ingredients, S.Y. Kitchen is a delicious and friendly place to fortify yourself after a day of wine tasting. sykitchen.com

SIP THIS Whether you bike or drive along The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, this 30-mile road is home to some of the most accomplished winemakers in California. The 14 wineries and tasting rooms represent a diverse selection of highly-rated, world class wines. foxencanyonwinetrail.net

DO THIS Established in 1972 as Santa Barbara County’s first resort course open to the public, the gorgeous Sandpiper Golf Club in Goleta is an inspiring 18 holes of seaside golf on extraordinary terrain, featuring rolling fairways leading to enormous greens with ocean views from nearly every hole. sandpipergolf.com

Paso Robles, California

STAY HERE Chic Hotel Cheval is just a half-block from Paso Robles Downtown City Park, and walking distance from fine restaurants, tasting rooms and shops. The horse-loving owners gave the two-story inn an equine theme — each of the 16 individually decorated rooms bears the name and associated photos of historically significant horses plus original paintings and other art. Guests can enjoy the glow of outdoor fireplaces, peruse a book in the Library, get pampered with a spa treatment, or catch up with friends in the Pony Club bar. hotelcheval.com

SIP THIS Savor the award-winning wines at Calcareous, while taking in breathtaking 180-degree views of Paso Robles. With glass walls, the Tasting Room — named Lloyd’s Lookout for Lloyd Messer, the winery’s co-founder — is a stunning showcase for the lush wines and beautiful, tranquil vineyard setting. Options also include an elevated hilltop tasting, where you’re transported by ATV to the top of the vineyard overlooking the winery and the valley, and treated to current releases, along with special library wines. calcareous.com

DINE HERE The new Tin Canteen at Tin City Paso Robles boasts an open kitchen, a sleek, industrial-style dining area and a large patio with a dramatic rock waterfall. Tin Canteen’s menu, which changes regularly, takes its cues from Italy and local, seasonal ingredients — all of which pair perfectly with Tin City’s 20+ producers of locally sourced beer, wine and spirits. tincanteenpaso.net | tincitypasorobles.com

DO THIS While mansions certainly abound in California, nothing compares to the storied grandeur of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Lavishly designed by architect Julia Morgan (one of the first females to break into the field) as the residence of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, the complex, completed in 1947, is an extraordinary temple to opulence and excess. It’s also one of the state’s most visited historical monuments, and an eye-popping extravaganza with a 165-room castle, 127 acres of terraced gardens, sparkling fountains, towering palms, and wraparound views of the Central Coast. Don’t miss the world-famous Neptune Pool, a gorgeous swimming pool with water that refracts light to create a brilliant turquoise hue. hearstcastle.org

Livermore, California

STAY HERE A relaxing way to enjoy wine country, the Purple Orchid Resort and Spa is set in the hillsides of Livermore Valley and features ten suites designed for comfort, tranquility and relaxation. Each suite has its own fireplace and Jacuzzi tub, with either orchard, garden or vineyard views. Enjoy a full complimentary breakfast each morning, full service spa, and relaxing and socializing in one of many common areas. purpleorchid.com

SIP THIS One of the best ways to explore beautiful Livermore Valley Wine Country is by bike. Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as you ride your way to several of the area’s favorite vineyards, recreational and scenic areas. Start your day at Nottingham Cellars, then make your way to Concannon Vineyard (a mainstay of California wines since 1883). Also on the trail are Steven Kent Winery, Garré Vineyard & Winery, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Rubino Estates Winery, Ruby Hill Winery and Wente Vineyards (the oldest continuously operated family-owned winery in the country). visittrivalley.com/activities-and-things-to-do/bike-trails/winecountry-bike-tour

DINE HERE Indulge your sweet tooth on the Tri-Valley Ice Cream Trail, which includes 12 different frozen specialty stores, including CREAM Livermore, which specializes in ice cream sandwiches that use homemade cookies, brownies, do’sants, and fresh off the griddle waffles. visittrivalley.com/activities-and-things-to-do/ice-cream-2-3creamnation.com/livermore

DO THIS Enjoy a concert at Wente Vineyards, where summer after summer, the natural amphitheater fills with incredible music in a picturesque setting. Artists in 2019 included Seal, Styx, The Temptations, The Four Tops, REO Speedwagon, Boz Scaggs, Aaron Neville, The Doobie Brothers and Josh Groban, among others. There are no bad seats in this beautiful venue, but for a special treat reserve one of the 40 seats in the front-row restaurant section, which is only ten feet from the stage. wentevineyards.com/concerts

Lodi, California

STAY HERE You’d be hard pressed to find a more idyllic wine country retreat than Wine & Roses, a seven-acre property with 66 individually designed guest rooms and suites with amenities including botanical gardens, a modern fitness center, beautiful pool, relaxing jacuzzi and gracious hospitality. Don’t miss the chance to relax your mind, body and spirit with a truly organic experience at The Spa at Wine & Roses, offering an extensive menu of services and packages in a natural environment with the soothing touch of spa professionals. winerose.com

SIP THIS Enjoy exciting small-lot wines that showcase the flavors of the Lodi Wine country region as you sip among 70-acres of lush vines and majestic century-old oaks at Oak Farm Vineyards. This magnificent, colonial style estate was built in 1876 and is an excellent spot to revel in a picnic lunch with a bottle of estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese. oakfarmvineyards.com

DINE HERE Soak up the sunshine at The Farm Café at Michael David Winery, which offers breakfast and lunch made with seasonal selections of produce grown on-site (owners and brothers, Michael and David Phillips represent the fifth generation of growers in Lodi) or at other local farms. Enjoy a piece of handmade signature pie (made from Michael and David’s mother’s recipe), as you play bocce ball and sip wine among 650 acres of premium grapes. michaeldavidwinery.com

DO THIS Stroll around the 132-acre Micke Grove Regional Park. It offers a small zoo, a 3-acre lake with a 40-foot water fountain, a bucolic Japanese garden with cherry blossom trees, the San Joaquin County Historical Museum and an 18-hole disc golf course. sjparks.com

Rogue Valley, Oregon

STAY HERE The casually elegant Rogue Regency Inn & Suites offers the perfect location to dine, celebrate and explore Rogue Valley wine country. Accommodations include a variety of suites and room options, some with cozy fireplaces, private Jacuzzis, kitchenettes and special treats for man’s best furry friends. rogueregency.com

SIP THIS Named after the two hawks who have soared over the estate and vineyard since its original planting, 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery creates estate-grown, handcrafted wines that express the vineyard’s natural beauty and singular terroir. Enjoy a memorable day with chef-inspired, winemaker-recommended food and wine pairings in the environmentally friendly tasting room, which was constructed with reclaimed lumber from across the country — including Wisconsin breweries, Pennsylvania shipyards and the old Lithia Building in downtown Medford. 2hawk.wine

DINE HERE Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine takes diners on a delicious spin through Oregon’s culinary landscape. With restaurants in both Ashland and Medford, guests can savor seasonally inspired, elegant and flavorful dishes that showcase the region’s best farm-fresh ingredients for a celebration of the classics — with a twist. Cooking innovative comfort food from scratch, the culinary team is inspired by local farms, orchards, creameries and wineries. larksrestaurant.com

DO THIS Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the U.S., the world renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland presents approximately 800 performances per year. The 2020 season runs through November 1, and includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Copper Children, Poor Yella Rednecks, Bring Down The House, Confederates, Everything That Never Happened, The Tempest, Black Odyssey and Bernhardt/Hamlet. osfashland.org

Willamette Valley, Oregon

STAY HERE The tranquil setting of Le Puy, a destination bed-and-breakfast, makes for an ideal romantic retreat for couples. The B&B strives to be an authentic “eco-inn” and exemplify sustainability in every possible way, from the food it offers, to the products it uses, to the way it carefully considers the environment. Enjoy spa-like amenities and personal service in an idyllic setting. lepuy-inn.com

SIP THIS Enjoy the wines of the famed Dundee Hills appellation with a visit to The Four Graces. Named for the four daughters of the Black family who originally purchased an existing vineyard in the Willamette Valley, taste these sustainably farmed wines in a charming, renovated farmhouse overlooking the vineyard. thefourgraces.com

DINE HERE Delight in fresh off the farm, handcrafted and aged goat and cow’s milk cheeses from Briar Rose Creamery. Each small batch is nurtured with an intimate, time-honored process to achieve the best flavor and texture, highlighting the seasonal qualities of the cheeses. Briar Rose cheeses are made to pair well with craft beers and Oregon Pinot Noir. Don’t miss the award-winning chocolate goat cheese truffles. briarrosecreamery.com

DO THIS You can see a lot of Oregon from behind the wheel. Spanning more than 3,000 miles, the Beaver State has more scenic byways than any other state in the U.S., covering distinct landscapes and including numerous historical and cultural landmarks. The Willamette Valley Scenic Byways are all beautiful trips to take year-round: Explore McKenzie River Scenic Byway, Marys Peak to Pacific Scenic Byway, West Cascades Scenic Byway, and Over the River and Through the Woods this season. oregonwinecountry.org

Hood River, Oregon

STAY HERE Situated on the edge of a 200-foot cliff boasting awe-inspiring views of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area — where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade mountains, with cliffs and overlooks of Washington to the north and Oregon’s mountains and waterfalls to the south — the luxurious Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel prides itself on providing a home away from home atmosphere. columbiacliffvillas.com

SIP THIS Choose from over 25 award-winning wines at Cathedral Ridge Winery, featuring unique big, bold reds, signature blends and delicious whites. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, Cathedral Ridge offers an excellent picnic spot, a Barrel Viewing Room, a Vineyard Exhibit Room, as well as five different tour and tasting options, including a private tasting of wines on the verge of bottling all the way through exclusive library wines. Stave & Stone Wine Estates has a downtown Hood River tasting room as well as an estate winery at Broken Boulder Vineyard. It features beautiful views of both Mount Hood and Mount Adams. cathedralridgewinery.com | staveandstone.com

DINE HERE Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with the unique on-farm cooking classes at The Kitchen at Middleground Farms. From bread baking camp to paella and special holiday and date night themes, The Kitchen is a true gem that sells farm-fresh foods and offers an extensive array of cooking classes that teach fundamental skills in the garden as well as the kitchen. middlegroundfarms.com

DO THIS Set in the rolling foothills of the Blue Mountains, the Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop farm tour is a terrific way to explore abundant orchards and wineries and meet artisan producers who make delicious food and handcrafted beverages. The self-guided exploration begins in the charming town of Milton-Freewater and ends in the famous streets of Pendleton. bit.ly/35A0P8tWhiskyRocks

Woodinville, Washington

STAY HERE A fabulous location for wine, beer and spirits lovers alike, with more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms nearby and Redhook Brewery right next door, Willows Lodge offers a relaxing retreat in the heart of Woodinville wine country. The Sammamish River Trail, which provides access to plenty of outdoor activities, is also adjacent to the property. willowslodge.com

SIP THIS One of the newest tasting rooms in the area, Maryhill Winery — which also has tasting rooms in Goldendale, Spokane and Vancouver — occupies nearly 10,000 square feet of Woodinville’s historic Hollywood Schoolhouse, a beloved landmark since its construction by the Derby School District in 1912. Visitors can now enjoy Maryhill’s wide selection of Washington wines from both inside the lovingly restored building and outside among the beautiful gardens and outdoor balconies. maryhillwinery.com

DINE HERE A unique celebration of the foods and wines of the Pacific Northwest, The Herbfarm Restaurant offers only one seating per night. As a part of this thematic dining experience, you’ll help harvest for the restaurant kitchen, and watch as the chefs prepare you a fabulous nine-course dinner, sourced from the fruit of your own labor. theherbfarm.com/activities

DO THIS It’s not everywhere you can find an outlandish combination of circus acts, magic, comedy and dinner, but after operating from tents around the country, Teatro Zinzanni has found a permanent home in a former brewery in Woodinville. Each show includes a multicourse feast and elegant libations. zinzanni.com

Walla Walla, Washington

STAY HERE The pastoral comforts of The Barn B&B reflect its beautiful setting, surrounded by rolling farmland and bordered on one side by the Little Walla Walla River, rolling hills and views of the Blue Mountains. This country inn has seven unique suites, each with a view of the mountains, a private entrance, and its own Zen garden and outdoor hot-water shower. bnbwallawalla.com

SIP THIS The family-owned Leonetti Cellar became the first bonded winery in Walla Walla in 1977 and is still the most renowned. You have to join the waiting list to visit, but insiders say it’s worth the wait! Also excellent, but easier to access, is the sister winery FIGGINS— open for private tasting appointments. Chris Figgins (son of the Leonetti founders) is the winemaker for both labels. leonetticellar.com | figginswine.com

DINE HERE Formerly home to the historic downtown Train Depot, in 2018 the space was transformed into Walla Walla Steak Co. and Crossbuck Brewing, and these two unique spaces have been delighting visitors ever since with steakhouse classics and beer-friendly tap room fare. wwsteakco.com

DO THIS Some of the best bird-watching in the country can be found in Walla Walla. During the annual spring and fall migrations, birders flock to the area to marvel at the more than 300 bird species that make this place their home. experiencewa.com/wa/birding-trails/walla-walla-river-delta

Prosser, Yakima Valley, Washington

STAY HERE Built by Willis Mercer in 1906, the family-owned Historic Mercer provides upscale, boutique accommodations in a quintessential rural downtown setting, in the heart of Washington State’s Prosser wine country. Still owned by the Mercer family, the property now has beautifully restored suites with the original wood floors, stunning eight foot windows, full kitchens, the finest beds and en suite bathrooms, along with fast Wi-Fi and other modern amenities. historicmercer.com

DO THIS Go rock climbing. Nearby Leavenworth was chosen by Rock and Ice magazine as one of the top 10 climbing cities in the U.S. It’s not hard to understand why. Within 10 miles of town are 50 crags featuring climbs of varied difficulty on clean, solid granite, with a wide range of bouldering, sport and trad cragging and access to some of the state’s best alpine rock. washingtonclimbers.orgleavenworth.org

SIP THIS Kestrel Vintner’s story — like its excellent wines — begins in the vineyard. Kestrel View Estate Vineyard is home to the oldest continually producing Chardonnay block in the state of Washington, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot plantings dating back to 1972 and many more varieties. Sip and savor the wines at three tasting rooms located in Prosser, Leavenworth and Woodinville, where you can sample all four tiers of Kestrel wines along with delectable food offerings. kestrelwines.com

DINE HERE Born and raised in Yakima, chef Lindsay Park and her team draw hungry locals and visitors back again and again to satisfy their cravings for elevated comfort food at Provisions Restaurant & Market. This chef-driven, Pacific Northwest-inspired restaurant has a deep commitment to supporting local farmers and purveyors, with a vegan and vegetarian friendly menu and rotating specials that keep eager guests returning to taste the newest culinary creations each week. provisionsyakima.com

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Touring & Tasting Magazine

I had the honor of serving as the Editor-in-Chief for Touring & Tasting Magazine’s 25th anniversary edition. I also wrote many pieces. To read the magazine in its entirety, click here.

Here’s the custom cover version we did for Robert Mondavi Winery.

This 25 Top Experiences Feature is a great way to do some armchair traveling!

My editor’s letter.

 

I really enjoyed interviewing photographer George Rose for this story about his stunning new book!

The Sensorio exhibit in Paso Robles is so cool. Hoping it will be able to reopen soon.

This story was a particularly fun one to research!

Click here to read all of these stories and more! TT-SP20.digital

Hotel Chefs Dish

Opening spread 805 Living Hotel Chefs Dish March 2020Creators of the farE served at 10 prestigious area resorts share their best new menu items, observations on industry trends, favorite local ingredients, and go-to eats made by other chefs.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Great chefs love great food. So who better qualified to share their insights on the 805 dining scene than top chefs at local resorts? With their insider intel on what’s new in Central Coast restaurants right now, crave-worthy dishes from their own kitchens and other chefs, as well as their favorite local ingredients, here’s what 10 area hotel chefs say is trending in the 805.

EXECUTIVE CHEF JOHAN DENIZOT

Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara

What’s trending on the 805 restaurant scene right now? Upscale Mexican cuisine. At least three new Mexican restaurants opened between last year and this year.

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? Our vegan ramen. It’s comfort food that pleases everyone.

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? The veggie burger at the Goat Tree restaurant [hotelcalifornian.com] in Santa Barbara’s Hotel Californian is very tasty, my to-go dish for lunch.

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? Chef Yoichi Kawabata at the Japanese restaurant Yoichi’s [yoichis.com] in Santa Barbara, for clean flavors and clean presentations.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? There are too many to list, but one in particular is the finger lime caviar. It’s fun to use and fits many dishes—from raw fish to desserts—with its bright and bold flavor.

Second spread 805 Living Hotel Chefs Dish March 2020

EXECUTIVE CHEF EDWARD RUIZ

The Gardens of Avila, Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, San Luis Obispo, sycamoresprings.com

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? My go-to dish is always a steak, medium rare. My favorite steak place is The Hitching Post II [hitchingpost2.com] in Buellton. I remember having one on my birthday. It was a 32-ounce rib eye grilled over oak.

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? Chef Brian Collins at Ember in Arroyo Grande. He does farm-to-table and the menu changes every month. It’s a really good experience from the service to the food.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? I’m very lucky to have a one-acre garden that we harvest a lot of our ingredients from, including melons, cucumbers, radishes, heirloom tomatoes, beets, greens, herbs, and edible flowers. We have a full-time farmer on-site—Haley Trengove—who is super helpful and really knowledgeable. That is something most restaurants in the area don’t have, and it sets us apart.

EXECUTIVE CHEF MATT JOHNSON

San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito, sanysidroranch.com

What’s trending on the 805 restaurant scene right now? Microbrews are popping up everywhere, which has food trucks coming to serve small plates, whether they’re taco, wood-fired pizza, or barbecue trucks. Also with more and more vegans and gluten-free diners, a lot of restaurants are going in that direction with healthier and lighter dishes. There are so many different options now in the 805 compared to 10 years ago when it was mainly tacos, Italian food, and cafés.

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? One of our dishes at Stonehouse restaurant is Local Spiny Lobster with gnocchi, romanesco, speck ham, and Meyer lemon emulsion. The lobster is from Santa Cruz Island and the Meyer lemons that make up the sauce are from our gardens at San Ysidro Ranch.

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? One of my favorite dishes is at Kitanoya Ramen & Sushi [805-382-1222] in Oxnard. It’s the Fried Chicken Ramen with crispy garlic, pickled egg, and spicy miso, along with a side of their house-made kimchi. It is my comfort dish on a cold evening; it’s so good.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? My favorite ingredient right now is definitely Meyer lemons from our property. We also have beehives on the property that make our honey. It’s got flavors of rosemary and lavender.

EXECUTIVE CHEF RICHARD PFAFF

Lido, Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, Pismo Beach, thedolphinbay.com

What’s trending on the 805 restaurant scene right now? Not just in the 805 but countrywide, diners have moved to either a plant-based diet or have chosen to omit gluten and carbs from their diets. We here at Lido make an effort to accommodate diners with a host of different diets. Recently we released a house-made vegan burger consisting of edamame, shiitake mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and hominy, which is very popular. We also appeal to gluten-free diners who frequent our resort. I am most proud of this, considering 80 percent of our menu is gluten-free or has the option to be prepared that way, everything from our crab cakes and French fries all the way to our garbanzo bean flour–breaded fritto misto appetizer.

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? Oh, hands down the pork belly and abalone dish by chef Brian Collins at Ember [emberwoodfire.com] in Arroyo Grande. I usually am off on Mondays when they are closed, but every time I visit Ember that is my go-to dish!

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? Nicola Allegretto at Mistura [misturarestaurants.com] in San Luis Obispo. Mistura stands out because of the lack of Peruvian food represented here in the 805. With fun, eclectic flavors and beautiful presentation, it’s just a fun and interesting place all around.

Third spread 805 Living Hotel Chefs Dish March 2020

EXECUTIVE CHEF TRAVIS WATSON

Blackbird, Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara, hotelcalifornian.com

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? My favorite dish on the Blackbird menu right now is our Prime New York Steak. It is a grass-fed, all-natural product that is aged for at least 33 days. It’s so tender and delicious by itself, but we accompany it with heirloom carrot variations, caramelized cipollini onions, chimichurri, and a smoked–blue cheese bread pudding. The preparation is beautiful and over-the-top delicious!

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? The buttermilk fried quail from chef Jason Paluska at The Lark [thelarksb.com] in Santa Barbara. It is spectacular, and I love that he took such a classic approach to a great ingredient.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? One of the best things about living and cooking in Santa Barbara is the access to great seafood. Right now we are getting the best spiny lobsters I can remember. At Hotel Californian we have great relationships within our local fishing community and are able to get fresh lobsters right off the boat. It doesn’t get any fresher than that! Forging those partnerships means that Hotel Californian will always be able to source the best product in the area. I have such respect for the fishermen and farmers who are passionate about sustainability and being stewards of our natural resources.

EXECUTIVE CHEF MICHAEL PATRIA

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, fourseasons.com/santabarbara

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? We just introduced a new dish to the Bella Vista menu which is, to me, Santa Barbara on a plate! Santa Barbara Uni with cauliflower panna cotta, smoked crême fraîche, trout roe, finger lime, and sea grass. This dish is not only absolutely gorgeous but also packed with flavor.

What are your current go-to dishes by other chefs? In Santa Barbara, The Tia Juana [spanish octopus and wild white shrimp] tacos at Corazon Cocina [corazoncocinasb.com] from chef Ramon Velazquez. I crave these weekly! The Ceviche Verde at Santo Mescal Restaurante [santomezcalsb.com] from executive chef Ricardo Garcia. The Tri Tip at Barbareño [barbareno.com] by executive chef Julian Martinez is seriously one of the most tender and flavorful pieces of meat in town. Of course I am pretty new to town, so I’m still exploring.

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? I would have to say chef Yoichi Kawabata from Yoichi’s [yoichis.com] in Santa Barbara. The kaiseki is steeped in tradition but packed full of creativity. His attention to detail is amazing. And his use of micro-seasonal Japanese ingredients is inspirational.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? The amazingly fresh local seafood. Coming from Atlanta, which is minimally three to four hours from the ocean, I find it pretty fantastic being able to work with seafood that is literally only a couple hours out of the water.

EXECUTIVE CHEF JOSE FERNANDEZ

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, fourseasons.com/westlakevillage

What’s trending on the 805 restaurant scene right now? What I see now is more attention to flavors, how you can take the best avocado, the best cabbage, or the best carrot to the next level.

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? Our whole California avocado with Santa Barbara pistachios and seaweed. I think this dish really symbolizes what our restaurant, the region, and the farmers are all about: putting vegetables on the front seat of the plate. The dish has such an interesting story, it is so simple yet so complex and delicious, especially in peak seasons when we get the avocados from Apricot Lane Farms [apricotlanefarms.com].

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? Lately I have been in Tyger Tyger [tygertygersb.com] in Santa Barbara more than once. I love what Daniel Palaima has done in that space—best Crispy Chicken Wings and Crispy Brussels Sprouts.

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? Collin Crannell from Moody Roster [moodyroosterwlv.com] in Westlake Village is super creative in the way he prepares the dishes and incorporates seasonal ingredients into the mix.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? From this particular area, so many: fresh avocados, strawberries, Santa Barbara spot prawns, pistachios, citrus, and the list continues.

Fourth spread 805 Living Hotel Chefs Dish March 2020

EXECUTIVE CHEF LISA BIONDI

Westlake Village Inn, westlakevillageinn.com

What’s trending on the 805 restaurant scene right now? Trending in the 805 and the restaurant scene in general are regional foods that highlight a specific cuisine and serving more vegetable-centered items.

Of your latest dishes, which are your favorites? Mediterraneo’s Roasted Cauliflower Bagna Cauda, which is roasted and bathed with a garlic anchovy sauce that has such umami-rich flavors. Salatim, because it offers a different, healthy way to start your meal with vegetables that are marinated and turned into dips and spreads, and our grilled Whole Branzino.

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? Executive chef Peter Lee at Loquita [loquitasb.com] in Santa Barbara is doing fantastic fresh Spanish small plates with a lot of seafood and vegetables.

EXECUTIVE CHEF JUSTIN PICARD

Allegretto Vineyard Resort, Paso Robles, allegrettoresort.com

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? An example of old made new is the Burgundy Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs. I have rejuvenated and improved a perennial favorite. These were on the menu the entire five years [I was] at Roberts Restaurant & Wine Bar [now closed]. It’s like reuniting with an old friend, old faithful. It starts off right, using prime grade steak, heavily marbled and thick-cut, lots of fresh herbs picked right here on the Allegretto property, fistfuls of toasted spices, gallons of burgundy, and three hours of slow cooking—and that’s just the beginning.

Brian Terrizzi and his crew at Etto [ettopastificio.com] pasta help to take this dish to the next level with their great pappardelle noodles, which I get fresh every few days. A luxurious sherry cream sauce with oak-roasted oyster and cremini mushrooms coats everything. Rustic, rough-chopped parsley, lemon, and green onion gremolata brighten the palate. The surprise for this dish, which I discovered while snacking in the kitchen late one night, is that the carrots used in the braising of the beef become so delicious. They get their own groove on and just melt in your mouth, so yes, they go on the dish, too.

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? Larb ga—Thai chicken salad—is my perennial favorite morning, noon, and night. Extra fish sauce, extra lime, extra cilantro, and brown rice. In Paso Robles, Basil Thai [805-238-9945] and Thai Classic [805-226-9032] always hook me up.

What 805-area ingredients have contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? Tomatoes! Paso Robles tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had. Vanessa Harris from Heart of Paso Produce [heartofpasoproduce.com] and Zina Engel of Loo Loo Farms [looloofarms.com] have blessed me with an unlimited abundance of simply amazing fruit, when the season happens. Harris had plus or minus 180 tomato varieties growing. That means they start early and stay late in the season, and the diversity of color and flavor is mind-blowing. Also plum-basil balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil from Chaparral Gardens [chaparralgardens.com] in Atascadero, sea salt, basil, real mozzarella di buffalo, and pink peppercorns.

CHEF DE CUISINE ANDREW FOSKEY

Olivella at Ojai Valley Inn, ojaivalleyinn.com

What’s trending on the 805 restaurant scene right now? Simplicity. Looking around at what other chefs and restaurants are doing throughout Ventura County, I feel they all kind of echo this philosophy of simplicity, and that food doesn’t need to be so far out of the box. It should just taste delicious and make diners feel warm and satisfied.

Of your latest dishes, which is your favorite? I do have a soft spot for our pan-roasted lamb loin. Beside the fact that it tastes yummy, what makes this dish special is the skill and patience required to execute it consistently. It all starts with the sauce, making a proper lamb jus, simmering it down with marsala, roasted lemons, aromatics, and proper seasoning. The sauce must be just right, balanced between sweet and savory, playing off the flavors of ground espresso seasoning on the lamb loin. Every component on the plate must be done with 100 percent thought and focus, from beginning to end. The result showcases balanced flavors in what I would consider a very simple and restrained dish.

What is your current go-to dish by another chef? The Lamb Korma at The Taj Cafe [thetajcafeventura.com] in downtown Ventura is without a doubt my go-to dish. It is just simply delicious!

What other 805-area chef is doing particularly creative, interesting things with food? What Ted and Yong Kim of Seoul Sausage Co. [seoulsausage.com] are doing at The Annex in the Collection at RiverPark in Oxnard is some of the most thoughtful and creative food in the county. It is flat‑out soul-satisfying and delicious.

What 805-area ingredient has contributed the most to the elevation of your culinary creations? The largest contribution that the local farming community has provided us at Olivella is the bounty of fruits that are being showcased year-round. Whether it’s persimmons, pixies, lemons, limes, strawberries, or melons, they all give us an opportunity to elevate our food and add unique flavors and textures.

805 Living Cover, March 2020.Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine 805 Living March 2020 Hotel Chefs Dish