A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
Marking the 30th anniversary of Fess Parker Winery, Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort honors the Parker Family-owned winery’s big milestone with an exclusive dinner, the “Fess Parker Wine Journey,” from 6 – 10 p.m. on Friday, March, 22 in the resort’s Reagan Ballroom.
It’s going to be a fun—and delicious—evening, kicking off with a video presentation and a Q&A with the Parker Family, hosted by yours truly. Since their first vineyard planting in 1987, the Fess Parker family has enjoyed a long, successful history in Santa Barbara County, helping to pioneer the region’s reputation as an international destination for wine, hospitality and discovery, as well as developing many of the county’s prestigious vineyards.
The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now owns and farms more than 125 acres and works with more than 700 acres in Santa Barbara County, focusing on the grape varieties best suited to the region’s unique growing conditions—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Rhone wines—with its vintages consistently earning 90+ point ratings from top critics around the world.
Eli Parker—a founding family member and former head winemaker reflects on the occasion: “Our greatest hope is that people who have enjoyed our wines over the last 30 years will continue to enjoy them as part of their own family traditions and celebrations. Even more so, we hope that people just discovering Fess Parker wines will appreciate them as the finest expression of the beauty and bounty of Santa Barbara wine country. Continuing to work together toward this objective as a family is a real privilege.”
“We mark this anniversary with equal parts pride and gratitude – pride for the quality we have achieved with our wines in national and international markets and gratitude for the opportunity to grow our business while remaining family held. By playing to our strengths and focusing on working with the Rhône and Burgundian varietals that grow so well here, hopefully we have set ourselves up well for the next 30 years. We are fortunate to have a tremendous winemaking team under the direction of Head Winemaker, Blair Fox, who celebrates his 15th anniversary with the winery this year as well,” says winery President Tim Snider.
Both Eli Parker and Tim Snider will be on hand at the event, along with winery co-owner Ashley Parker Snider and their daughter Greer Shull, who does marketing for the brand, which also includes the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, as well as the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos, which also houses The Bear and Star restaurant, featuring refined ranch-to-table cuisine from Chef/Partner John Cox.
“Our team is honored to host a wine and culinary celebration for Fess Parker Winery’s 30-year anniversary,” says Hilton Santa Barbara General Manager Chris Inman. “Our goal is to create a memorable evening that speaks to seasoned Fess Parker Winery fans as well as a new generation of wine lovers.”
Hilton Santa Barbara Executive Chef Mossin Sugich and his culinary team will prepare a fresh and delicious culinary adventure paired with the Fess Parker’s signature wines. The five-course wine pairing dinner menu includes:
Cocktail Hour Canapes
Poached fingerling potato, caviar and crème fraiche
Foie Gras, Brioche, Fig Jam
Beef Tartare, crostini
Black Mission Fig, Mascarpone, jamon de Parma, Sicilian pistachio
Fess Parker Rodney’s Dry Riesling 2016 and Epiphany Grenache Blanc 2017
Spring Bounty Dégustation
Spring Onion Flan, pickled ramp, English pea puree, green garlic chips, pea tendril, black olive dirt
Viogner, Rodney’s Vineyard 2017
Channel Islands Treasures
Spot Prawns & sea urchins, morel mushroom crème, crispy cauliflower, lemon, Tarragon
Chardonnay, Ashley’s 2016
State Bird Roulade
Mushroom stuffed Quail, celeriac puree, celery and apple salad, almond oil
Sour Port reduction
Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2017
California Spring Lamb
Grilled fat on lamb loin, Pine nut coulis, minted & pickled green strawberries
morel mushroom, fava beans, lamb jus
Syrah, Santa Barbara County
Harrys Berries Strawberry Panna Cotta
Meyer lemon granita, fresh Harry’s Berries
Late Harvest Semillon 2009
All menu items are locally sourced and subject to change based on seasonal quality and product availability.
I hope some of you will join us on March 22 for this very special night honoring the Parker Family and Fess Parker’s legacy.
“Knowing that a career in Hollywood wasn’t necessarily a long-term proposition, creating a family business that all of us could participate in for generations was important to my dad,” says Ashley Parker Snider. “Before he passed in 2010, he was incredibly proud of how far we had come.”
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort is located at 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. For more information or to purchase a ticket, please call 805/884-8518 or email SBAFP_SpecialEvents@hilton.com.
Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.
When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life!
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.
Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s and Ocean Futures Society’s new educational program engages all ages.
By Leslie Dinaberg
It was one of those “I have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening” experiences, walking beside environmental legend Jean-Michel Cousteau on an “ecohike” along the beautiful Gaviota Coast that borders the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The impressively spry 80-year-old explorer and founder of the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Ocean Futures Society has joined forced with the Ritz-Carlton Bacara to bring a new Ambassadors of the Environment program to the property.
Based on four principles—everything is connected, everything runs on energy, there is no waste in nature, and biodiversity is good—through various adventures and activities, the Ambassadors of the Environment program allows participants to discover the Gaviota Coast’s natural wonders both on land and sea, including kelp forest, a diversity of birds, the intertidal zone, and traditional Chumash culture.
The Ocean Futures and Ritz-Carlton relationship is longstanding (with programs in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Catalina Islands, Polynesia, and the Cayman Islands, among others), but the local program is new.
“I am very excited to have our newest Ambassadors program here at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, in my backyard,” says Cousteau, who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Ocean Futures Co-Founder Nancy Marr. “This region is among the richest and most interesting in the world, with amazing natural wonders. With our great team, guests will have an amazing experience that both enriches and educates them.”
The activities—led by a team of naturalists personally trained by Cousteau and his longtime chief scientist, the charismatic Dr. Richard “Murph” Murphy—include options specially tailored to elementary school age children, young adults, families and adults. The onsite program supervisor Sara Welsh and her team are clearly stoked to be at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara. Having witnessed their infectious enthusiasm very clearly engage an often-jaded cadre of travel journalists, I can only imagine how excited the lucky kids and their families will be when this group leads them on new environmental adventures with programs like “Whale of a Tale,” “CSI: Coastal Scene Investigator,” and “Creatures of the Night,” among others.
“Having the advantage of being near Santa Barbara, there is a coastline there which is pretty unique on the planet,” says Cousteau. “We are helping people because of the knowledge that we are able to share, exploring and seeing what lives there whether they are birds or fish or kelp forests. … For me it’s a privilege not only to live here, but to make sure that the Ritz-Carlton is sharing all our knowledge and information with the young people, and their parents.”
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.
One of Santa Barbara’s favorite holiday traditions for the whole family is the annual Christmas Revels musical production. This year’s story, An Irish Celebration of the Winter Solstice, is a joyous theatrical production celebrating the spirit and strength of the Irish emigrants who came to America in the early 1900’s to build new lives in a new land. At sea over the holidays, these strangers bond over spinning stories, singing songs, and sharing seasonal traditions; friendships are formed, romance blossoms.
Joining the Revels Company are accomplished guest artists, including award-winning actors and Irish dancers as well as vocal soloists, a brass ensemble and a string and wind quintet.
The Christmas Revels is an exciting and heartwarming entertainment experience for every age and a favorite Santa Barbara holiday tradition created by and for our community for the past 11 years. The show takes place at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara) Dec. 22 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 23 at 2:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 16, 2018.
Looking for a fun, holiday performance to take the kids to? Everybody Dance Now! Invites you and your family to the Everybody Dance Now! Holiday Performance on Friday, December 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Education Office Auditorium(4400 Cathedral Oaks Rd., Santa Barbara).
“We are excited to continue building our diverse dance community, transforming our youth through the power of dance, and showing how a strong culture of unity and love can be created through the arts. Anyone who has attended one of our performances can tell you, the night is super high energy! In fact, you probably won’t stop smiling,” say the organizers. “This year we have performances by our weekly youth dance classes, guest dance performances, parent dance-offs, yummy baked goods, activities for the kids, and prize giveaways. This is an event for everyone, so invite your friends and family for a night of dance and holiday cheer!”
The event is donation-based and is free to attend. Everybody Dance Now! will allocate all funds raised towards continuing to offer free or low-cost dance classes to hundreds of dancers each week. For more information about the event and this terrific organization, visit www.everybodydancenow.org.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 8, 2018.
Black Friday kicks off the holiday season at Paseo Nuevo on Friday, November 23. Here’s the lineup of this season’s shopping, events and activities:
Black Friday –The official start to the holiday shopping season, Black Friday on November 23 is getting an early start opening at 7 a.m., although some retailers will open even earlier. For a full list of store hours, visit.
– Check out Santa Barbara’s “best in snow” when nightly snowfall shows take place twice each evening in Center Court as a flurry of white snow falls down on the Christmas tree, singing carolers, and shoppers, a magical tradition enjoyed by the entire family. Snowfall shows will start promptly at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. from Friday, November 23 to December 31 (no shows on Christmas Day).
– On Thursday, November 29 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., join Paseo Nuevo for Silent Night, a silent disco holiday dance party for the entire family! Wear your ugliest sweater and be prepared to dance and sing-a-long to your favorite holiday tunes through headphones! Come early to get headsets for the entire family. Jam to your favorite songs and watch the snowfall at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. for the merriest night of the season—and it’s free!
– Santa takes up residence in his Santa Barbara home at Paseo Nuevo’s Center Court starting Friday, November 23. Children will be able to visit him daily through December 24. Santa will be open early on December 2 & 9 from 9-11 a.m. for children with special needs while Tuesday evenings will be open for pet photos where even the furriest family members can snap a photo with Santa. Every child will receive a free gift and Santa’s elves will be on hand to catch the precious moment in a photo.
California Pizza Kitchen hosts a breakfast event featuring a special guest, Santa Claus! Breakfast includes a breakfast pizza, drink, and crafts for $10/child, $15/adult. Children under 3 eat for free. Call Evelyn at 805/962-4648 for reservations.– On December 1 and December 8, from 8-10 a.m.,
Live Entertainment – It wouldn’t be the holidays without costumed carolers, holiday horns, colossal choirs, and the occasional squeezebox roaming throughout the center filling the paseos with holiday cheer! A robust schedule of over 20 live entertainment ensembles will perform throughout the season daily. For the full schedule of performers, dates and times, visit
Win Prizes with #PaseoNuevoMagic – For a chance to WIN weekly holiday themed contests, guests can snap, share and tag their holiday experience on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with @ShopPaseoNuevo and hashtag #PaseoNuevoMagic. Winners will be chosen every week beginning November 23.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 20, 2018.
Small Business Saturday, Sampling State, Annual Holiday Parade and Tuba Christmas are among the many special events coming to SB!
Downtown Santa Barbara (DSB) is raring and ready for Holiday shopping, Holiday dining, Holiday Happy Hour, Holiday parties, Holiday strolling, Holiday décor and lights viewing, and last but not least, Holiday events!
“This is our busiest and most anticipated time of year,” says Kate Schwab, DSB Marketing & Communications Director. “We’re looking forward to kids in costumes, music, celebrating our great small businesses and a Parade to remember.”
First up is Small Business Saturday Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust, on Saturday, November 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check out the SBS Welcome Center at Historic Storke Placita (700 State St.) to find Downtown SB booths with block by block information, try your hand at DSBingo, Downtown Trivia, Spin the Wheel to Win and the ever-popular Corn Hole, and enjoy the festive tunes of Holiday Horns.
At 11 a.m., Downtown restaurants will step outside to offer tastes of their fare for Sampling State. “Our goal with Sampling State is that restaurant doors will swing open at the same time, offering small bites from their great menus,” says DSB Business Manager, Erik Krueger.
Friday, December 7 is the Downtown Santa Barbara Annual Holiday Parade Presented by Consumer Fire Products Inc. Starting at 6:30 p.m., check out the big balloons, marching bands, and the Grand Marshal(s) sponsored by Lemos Feed & Pet Supply —four heroic K9 dog teams of Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue. The 66th Annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade, Presented by Consumer Fire Products Inc. starts at Sola St. and continues down State St. to Cota St.
Tuba Christmas comes downtown on Saturday, December 15 at noon. Get your oom-pah-pah on with this nearly 30-year-old brass tradition! Tap your toes to the beloved Christmas Brass/Trombone Christmas /TubaChristmas concert in Storke Placita.
“This holiday more than ever, we’re inviting Santa Barbara residents downtown to support all our great local businesses, win a prize or two, enjoy some music and some tastings,” says Schwab. “It’s a fabulous way to kick off the 2018 Holiday shopping season!”
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 19, 2018.
State Street’s got some rhythm in its soul this month with the annual Pianos on State interactive musical exhibit on display throughout October.
In its 9th year, the exhibition will extend from October 2-24, and feature pianos painted by Santa Barbara-based artists—all of which are available for community exploration, impromptu play and group performances.
This year’s panel received a record number of submissions, according to organizers from Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. The selected artists include Aviel Hyman, Mahina Martinson, Ariana Meyers, Jack Mohr, Amanda Phillips, Melody Rose, Sheryl Schroeder, Lanny Sherwin and Richard Stokes. Additional community partners working with local students and artists to design pianos include Art From Scrap, the Santa Barbara Public Library Central Branch, The Arts Fund and Youth Interactive.
Helmed by the Santa Barbara Bowl, this program represents a unique collaboration that aims to provide arts exposure for residents and visitors of all ages. “The pianos are a beloved tradition that enhances the cultural vibrancy of Santa Barbara and the downtown corridor. It is a way to engage the community by inviting participants of all ages and backgrounds to experience performing arts in a public space,” says Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Program Manager. Additional producing partners include the City of Santa Barbara, Office of Arts and Culture, The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and New Noise SB. Many local sponsors and businesses also help sponsor and underwrite costs.
An opening celebration takes place on 1st Thursday, October 4, from 5-8 p.m. as artists traverse the pianos and the Piano Boys perform at the Library’s piano at the intersection of State and Anapamu Streets.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 3, 2018.
Dads are notoriously hard to buy presents for, so here are a few Father’s Day gift suggestions that are sure to make him smile.
Beloved Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune Columnist Chris Erskine‘s collection of essays about the joys and absurdities of modern fatherhood are sure to make any dad smile. As the promo says, “This handsome book is the perfect gift for the father who would have everything—if he hadn’t given it all to his kids.” Click here for more information.
Jackalope Beer Soap
An intoxicating way for dad to start his day, these Jackalope Beer Soap bars from Little Seed Farm are an all-natural way to give his morning shower a little extra kick! The Bourbon Bar, Bearwalker Beer Bar, Rompo Beer Bar and Thunder Ann Beer Bar are hand-crafted from fresh, raw goat’s milk produced on Little Seed Farm’s own dairy herd, in collaboration with a local distillery and brewery located in Nashville, Tennessee. Spent grains from the brewing process are added to each bar of soap, giving it a nice solid texture he’s sure to enjoy. www.littleseedfarm.com
BRÖÖ Craft Beer Shampoo
Continuing with the beer theme, BRÖÖ Craft Beer harnesses the power of all-malt, freshly-hopped craft beer in the form of a shampoo that dad is sure to enjoy. People have rinsed their hair with beer for ages, and this home-brewed remedy is brimming with B vitamins, proteins, and minerals to make his hair shiny, healthy and strong. broo.com
ZeroWater Filtration Pitcher
Perfect for the environmentally conscious and economically minded dad, eco-friendly ZeroWater filtration devices turn tap water into the equivalent of purified bottled water without the expense or waste of plastic bottles. Available in 8-cup, 10-cup and 20-cup dispensers. www.zerowater.com
Colorful, fun socks are a great way for even the most conservative dad to jazz up his look—and his mood. Whether he’s relaxing on the weekend, going to work, or dressed up for a night out, help him put his best foot forward with DAZI’s fashionable and comfortable men’s socks. This line features unique designs that are fun, but not over-the-top, to wear with almost any look. www.daziusa.com
A clever gift for the dad who likes to travel light. The Bindle Bottle holds 24 ounces of his favorite beverage—keeping drinks hot or cold for hours—along with small necessities such as chapstick, keys and headphones in the bottom stash area. Plus the name is cool: “Bindles” were once used by train hoppers to carry their essentials on their shoulders as they went off on their next adventure—your dad is sure to love this gift as he goes off on his. bindlebottle.com
Happy Father’s Day!
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 12, 2018.
Still struggling with what to buy your mom for Mother’s Day (or her birthday, or just to say “I love you” any time of the year, for that matter? Stress no more, here are a few things she’s sure to appreciate.
Put a new twist on her summer reading with a monthly subscription to Once Upon A Book Club! I loved this gift so much I bought it for both my mom and my mother-in-law (don’t tell …). The way it works is you sign up for a monthly box to arrive at her front door. You can do it once, or multiple times, it’s up to you.
She’ll open the adorable book-shaped box and find the selected book, along with 3-5 perfectly wrapped gifts with page numbers. They even have shredded book pages for stuffing. It’s so cute! Want to know what is in the gift? They are carefully curated to enhance the book. For example, one of the characters in the story pulls out a magical stone from a leather bag at a heightened moment in the book. As mom reads this, she is signaled to open one of the gifts: a replica of the described stone (that’s actually a bar of soap) inside a useful/trendy leather purse! You get the idea. It’s really fun!
Yummy Cupcakes are another favorite recent find. These are not your ordinary cupcakes (which she also probably loves), these are delicious gourmet cupcakes that come stacked four in a jar. The packaging is adorable (almost too pretty to eat), with flavors ranging from brown sugar cinnamon to French toast, nutty red velvet, Snickerdoodle and more. They even have a vegan version. I tried the Vegan Chocolate/Vanilla which was very tasty. And they deliver everywhere!
Dear Heart Designs is a beautiful way to give your loved one with a necklace that will remind her how you feel about her every time she puts it on. The company is faith-inspired jewelry brand whose feminine yet minimalist pieces have garnered the attention of celebrity designer Joanna Gaines, among others. The You’re a Gem necklace (pictured) is one of my favorites, and they also have customized versions with the names of your children inscribed, or special messages with scripture verses just for mom.
For moms on the go, the PediPocket blanket is great for travel. These lightweight and easy to pack fleece blankets are nearly 6 feet long, so it covers her shoulders and her feet at the same time and a special 20” pocket keeps her feet extra warm and snuggly. With 10 different colors and patterns to choose from, these are actually great gifts for everyone in the family and are perfect for tailgate parties, beach barbecues, and outdoor concerts as well as on her next trip.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Originally published on May 11, 2018 in Santa Barbara Seasons.