Wine Shopping 2.0

805 Living September 2020, Wine Shopping 2.0, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Wine Shopping 2.0, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

When it comes to selecting wines, the future is now. San Luis Obispo–based Tastry (tastry.com) uses patent-pending artificial intelligence to pair wine drinkers’ taste preferences with the bottles they’re most likely to enjoy. “It’s much less about the flavor and much more about the flavor matrix,” explains founder Katerina Axelsson, who began developing the technology while she was a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Using in-store kiosks at Gelson’s and California Fresh markets or the handy BottleBird app, shoppers take a 10-question quiz that uses a blend of machine learning, sensory science, and chemistry to match their wine palate to the bottles available for purchase. Once they select their wine, the app provides recommended food pairings.

In addition to helping consumers make smart choices, retailers use the information to optimize their product mix, and Tastry also provides science-based analysis to winemakers for product development.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

A Taste of Paso

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

A new 16,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex, Paso Market Walk (pasomarketwalk.com), continues the foodiecentric development of downtown Paso Robles. “Paso Robles was ready for a public market housing various food purveyors to provide another destination for visitors,” says developer and proprietor Debby Mann.

Some of the merchants included are Gather Urban Agriculture nursery, Montello Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, Hog Canyon Brewing Company, Just Baked Cake Studio & Bakery, and a host of restaurants. At Finca, the owners of Napa’s La Taquiza serve their traditional Mexican fare, while Momotaro Ramen showcases the popular Japanese noodles. Third Degree Grill dishes up American comfort food with flair. Paso Robles Wine Merchant, a wine shop, bar, and kitchen, turns out menu specials like grilled cheese, fresh oysters, and locally made organic pasta dishes. And coming in late fall, In Bloom will offer fresh California cuisine from a pedigreed restaurant team with operations in Chicago and Southern California.

Book a stay at one of six rooms and suites on-site at The Lofts to immerse yourself in this epicurean marketplace.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Grazing to Go

805 Living September 2020, Grazing to Go, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Grazing to Go, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

“Cheese was the hero we all needed,” jokes one of Crystal Paterson’s Moorpark neighbors. Paterson’s new grazing box-to-go business, Love and Fromage (loveandfromage.com), is a great example of how culinary creativity has flourished in the days of COVID-19.

“Before COVID, I hosted parties at my house and would always make charcuterie grazing boards—the bigger the better,” says Paterson about her inspiration for the business. “I was always searching out new cheeses and ways to display and pair the cured meats and accoutrements.”

The curated boxes, which feature a new theme every week and are growing in popularity via word-of-mouth have fed participants on boating trips and date nights and at beach picnics, 50th anniversary celebrations, and driveway birthday parties.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Cheers to Connecting

805 Living Summer 2020, Cheers to Connecting, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living Summer 2020, Cheers to Connecting, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Treat friends to a drink, even if you’re not there to raise a glass with them. It’s easy via the Get Your Drink On (GYDO; gydo.me) app, which works with U.S. wineries and breweries that accept Apple Pay or Google Pay.

“In the 805 area alone, we have almost 200 participating wineries and breweries, [so] friends can buy friends a drink at their favorite spot,” says Ryan Williams, cofounder of the Carpinteria-based company.

The app was conceived, Williams says, to help the beverage companies increase their sales and expand their user base. “However,” he says, “as GYDO began to take shape, the focus became more on the actual experience of the GYDO user and how they felt when buying or receiving a drink.”

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Stay at Home and Garden

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR DESIGN EDITION WHEN HOME MEANS MORE THAN EVER

Welcome to the Santa Barbara Independent’s annual Home and Garden special issue.

With all due respect to the very serious health and economic issues facing us right now, finding the joy and beauty in everyday life is also so important —maybe now more than ever, when our worlds have become so much more insular.

As Alice Walker wrote, “Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.”

We hope you’ll find some restoration and inspiration in these pages. From practical stories about solar panels and ADUs to garden advice from experts and creative musings from some of our town’s top architects and designers, there’s a whole lot here to help light your creative spark or just inspire you to dream about a new project.

Enjoy!

Advice to Grow By

Santa Barbara’s Master Gardeners Keep Calm and Garden On

Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Authors Isa Bird Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Discuss Small Garden Style

Premier Party Planner’s Home Entertaining Tips

Dishing With Merryl Brown, Event Designer Extraordinaire

Solarizing Made Simpler

CEC Makes Sun Power Easy and More Affordable

Is an ADU for You?

Allen Construction’s Ryan Cullinen Discusses Granny-Flat Rules

The Original Garden Wise Guy

Landscape Architect and TV Host Billy Goodnick

Creative Inspiration for Home Improvements

Where Santa Barbara’s Pros Go to Find Their Muse

A Monthly Guide to Mastering Your Garden

UC Master Gardener Program Suggests What to Plant and When in Santa Barbara

2020 H&G

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This special section of the Santa Barbara Independent (May 14-21, 2020) contained the following stories. Click on each one to read it, or view the entire section here, with additional web exclusive content here.

Premier Party Planner’s Home Entertaining Tips

From Santa Barbara Independent, May 14-21, 2020. Photo by Megan Sorel Photography.

Dishing With Merryl Brown, Event Designer Extraordinaire

While wow-worthy fundraising events may be in our rearview mirror for a while, anyone who’s ever attended the Pacific Pride Foundation’s Royal Ball, the Community Environmental Council’s Green Gala, or the Bellosguardo Foundation’s inaugural Great Gatsby–themed soirée knows what a thoughtful, creative touch that Merryl Brown and her team bring to every event.

While we’re all so eager to have our friends and family once again able to join us in our humble abodes, here is some entertaining advice from the expert.

How do you plan a small house party? I sit and I think about who is coming and who I want to be there and who will interact well with whom. Then I think about the flow of the party and what it’s going to feel like.

It starts with the invitation: What’s it going to tell you? How are you supposed to dress? Is it going to be a dinner? Are you going to get cocktails and hors d’oeuvres? You want to convey the theme and really give a sense of the party — without giving too much away.

Make sure everything is spotless in your home, that the bathrooms have a candle lit and that everything is clean and tidy. Make lots of space on your counter if you’re having a caterer. I’m a big believer in that it’s really hard for people to cook, make food, and be able to entertain their guests simultaneously.

If you want to cook, then have some extra help in the house. You can always enlist people who can take some of the burden off of you, so you aren’t stressed. That’s probably the single most important thing: The host or hostess really leads the mood. If a person is really stressed out when they’re entertaining, I think it really kills the mood of the party.

And when the party starts? It’s important to have a bar that people can get to right away and get their drinks. I think it’s really fun to have a couple of fun, interesting drinks and create a drink menu that you can put on your bar. Get interesting glassware and have interesting things that you can put in the drinks: edible flowers and interesting ice cubes where you invent something inside of them, glowing straws, or metal straws. There’s all different kinds of things that you can use to make your drinks look and feel great — and it becomes a point of conversation. You want to make sure to give that to people, particularly people that don’t know each other.

You can also have a person with a tray passing drinks if you have a bigger party, to take pressure off the bar. My favorite way to entertain is to traypass hors d’oeuvres and keep everything really neat and tidy (so people aren’t sharing germs). If you go online, there’s a million different recipes.

If you are limited in your budget, you can have custom cocktail napkins done very reasonably. Have some little quote or some funny little saying, or some sort of image. I did a memorial one time, and there were lyrics from a song that the person loved on the napkin, and it was meaningful.

What if I don’t have a bar? You can create a bar. You can take a six-foot table and put a linen on it; you can get some PVC and you can cut four pieces exactly the same size, and you raise that table up a little bit so that the front bar’s a little higher; you put another six-foot table behind it. And then you display your bottles; you display your artifacts; you make some cool things. Everybody should have a hot-glue gun — what you can do with a hot-glue gun is a beautiful thing. You can find fun stuff [Michaels, Art From Scrap, and Art Essentials are her go-to places] and make cool things that are in the theme of the party.

You have to get creative and have fun with it, and don’t be so nervous that it’s not going to be good enough. When you make an effort and you have fun with it and are not all nervous and stressed about it, people are psyched. They just want to have a nice time and they want to have a new experience and they want to be a part of something meaningful.

I think people really want to connect. The more that you give people things to connect about, to talk about, the more fun people are going to have.

What about the tablescapes? I try to layer things. For example, if you’re setting the table, it’s not just about the china and the linens and the glassware and the flatware and the floral. Those things are part of it, but there has to be something more, those little lovely surprises that make things pop. Have the beautiful calligraphed menu tucked into the napkin and this beautiful flower, and then they lift the napkin up and there’s a lovely little fortune or some little surprise, some little special poem or whatever it is.

What’s your most critical piece of advice? The single most important thing when you do an event is just to do it with love, infuse it with love.

I can’t wait to go to your coronavirus containment party. I want to throw that party. You’re going to have to come with your own hand-painted mask and your own gloves that you created yourself. We’ll all carry a six-foot scepter pointed out, so that everybody is six feet away from you, and then it’s a dance party in a great big space where everybody is far apart. And there’s no buffet at all; everybody gets their own individual food when they walk in the door.

See you there!

See merrylbrownevents.com.

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This story was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2020. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

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

Discoveries: Napa Valley Wine Train

A Taste of Mystery Along the Rail

A nice glass of Napa red enhances just about any experience, including the twists, turns and whodunits you’ll find aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train’s exclusive murder mystery dining experiences. These stunningly preserved antique rail cars have plenty of stories to tell, with a cast of characters fueled by deadly secrets, and plenty of intrigue — in addition to a sumptuously prepared three-course meal!

The 2020 playbill features an intriguing new series of immersive, themed murder mystery experiences on board the dinner train. Thrilling themes such as Crime and Punishment; Death of a Gangster; Dance with Death; Totally 80’s; Midnight at the Masquerade; Wizards and Witches; Now You See It, Now You Don’t; Till Death Do Us Part and The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year take center stage, and guests are encouraged to dress up accordingly for each incredible evening.

This unforgettable, three-hour journey evokes the romance and adventurous spirit of opulent rail travel at the beginning of the 20th century. The Wine Train is also an incredible way to experience the beauty of Napa Valley Wine Country.

The Murder Mystery adventures are not the only way to enjoy a Napa Valley Wine Train journey aboard this elegant train. You can choose from a variety of lunch, dinner, romance, mystery and exclusive private tours — all of which feature fresh, gourmet California cuisine as the lush vineyards of the Napa Valley landscape pass you by. The leisurely pace of the train evokes a more relaxed and reflective era, and allows you to really take in the vineyards and majestic mountain views.

The Napa Valley Wine Train truly is the ride of a lifetime.

For info., visit winetrain.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: 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

Wenatchee Whitewater Wows

Wenatchee Whitewater Wows, originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

Pair your white — or red — wines with some whitewater on an exciting journey rafting down the Wenatchee River’s wild rapids. This action-packed adventure departs from Leavenworth and combines wine tasting with the splashes, thrills and (possibly) spills of careening down Washington’s exhilarating whitewater for a nonstop day of fun!

Blue Sky Outfitters’ Wenatchee Whitewater Wine Adventures covers ten miles of rapids, with fun names like Upper Gorilla, Sharkstooth, Rodeo Hole, Drunkards Drop, Snowblind, Grannys and the Suffocator adding to the adrenaline-filled day.

After you work up a hearty appetite on the river, you’ll be treated to their famous top sirloin steak barbecue, then chauffeured to Wenatchee Valley wineries for a three-hour tasting tour. The most popular stretch of the Wenatchee River is about 14 miles between the towns of Leavenworth and Cashmere, and it boasts a thrilling array of class 3–4 whitewater every spring (river rapids are classified as 1–5, with 1 as the easiest and 5 as the most challenging).

Experts say that on the Wenatchee, when you hear a rapid coming — you know you are going to get wet! But with 300 days of sunshine per year, you’ll enjoy the drench. Along with great waves, and Osprey soaring overhead and nesting in the tops of trees, you’ll also find beautiful scenery, from mountainous forested landscape in Leavenworth to apple and pear orchards, rocky sandstone spires and grass-covered hillsides as you leave the Cascade foothills and enter the more agriculture-rich eastern part of Washington state.

In addition to Blue Sky Outfitters (blueskyoutfitters.com), other rafting operators offering guided trips in the Wenatchee River area include Alpine Adventures (alpineadventures.com), Leavenworth Outdoor Center (leavenworthoutdoorcenter.com), Orion Expeditions (orionexp.com), Osprey Rafting (ospreyrafting.com), River Riders (riverrider.com) and Wildwater River Guides (wildwater-river.com).

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