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

Santa Barbara’s Rugged Beauty: Photographer George Rose Turns His Lens to Wine Country

Santa Barbara’s Rugged Beauty: Photographer George Rose Turns His Lens to Wine Country, from the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

One of the things about Santa Barbara County’s wine country that is so unique is the western feeling, says George Rose, whose new large format photography coffee table book, “Wine Country Santa Barbara County,” showcases this bewitching California coastal wine landscape to perfection.

A longtime wine and travel photojournalist, Rose, whose most recent coffee table book was “Vineyard Sonoma County,” has photographed the Santa Barbara region for decades.

“When you get over into the Santa Ynez Valley where the grapes are grown in Santa Barbara County, the mood is very western and in the summertime it’s a little dusty and considerably warmer than on the coast. I just love the attitude, from Santa Maria barbecue to all of the crazy Danish memorabilia and architecture in Solvang,” Rose says. “It’s a lot of fun and I think it comes through in the book, which I divided up by trails or regions of the county.”

Also unique to the region: just about every wine grape variety known to the modern American consumer is grown in Santa Barbara County. A veteran photographer whose work has been featured in Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone, as well as throughout the wine and travel world, Rose captures Santa Barbara’s beauty with sections on the various AVAs and wine trails, as well as chapters that spotlight people enjoying the wines in urban tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara and Solvang, and the all-important harvest.

“These people who toil out in the vineyards all year long really are the key and the linchpin of this whole business,” says Rose, who explains that his approach was kind of “National Geographic-style photojournalism.”

Indeed, the sumptuous landscapes and the intimate lifestyle shots are both truly a work of art — and an eight-year labor of love to compile and shoot. The book is handcrafted, hand stitched and each sheet was hand fed into a Heidelberg press, says Rose.

“Wine Country Santa Barbara County” is available at featured wineries, as well as georgerose.com.

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

Cruising With Cork Hounds

Cruising With Cork Hounds, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Traveling with your favorite furry friend? The handy Cork Hounds website and app makes your hunt for dog friendly vineyards especially easy. Search for pooch-pleasing vineyards and wineries throughout the U.S. with the free database.

Founders Peggy Mihelich and Jeremy Gleaner created Cork Hounds in 2016, after a weekend trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. “In addition to exploring this historic town … we wanted to visit some of the vineyards,” explains Mihelich.

It was a cold and windy March day and with Bentley and Greta (their dogs), there was no way they could sit outside and taste wine. Trying to figure out which vineyards had dog-friendly tasting rooms took “lots of Google searches and quite a few U-turns … I thought, there has to be an easier way! Wouldn’t it be great if there was a website, one place, where we could just find out all this information, so we’d know before we go?”

Glesner, a technology executive in the Washington, D.C. area, responded, “I can build that!”

Mihelich came up with the name Cork Hounds, the domain was available, and they bought it that weekend.

With so many wineries going to the dogs in the past few years, Cork Hounds’ directory now contains 5,662 vineyards and wineries and 1,406 dog-friendly tasting rooms, across all 50 states.

“Getting to travel to various dog-friendly vineyards and wineries across the U.S is probably the best part of running Cork Hounds,” says Mihelich. “We’ve attended wine-dog charity events; these experiences have not only shown us that people love bringing their dogs to wineries, but also that our service is loved and appreciated by dog owners and winery owners.”

She believes, “By welcoming owners and their dogs, people stay longer and have a better time. They enjoy themselves more because they have their dog(s) with them, and they don’t have to rush home to take care of the dog(s). With so much competition out there, vineyards and wineries who turn away customers with dogs are losing out.” corkhounds.com

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

When the Sun Goes Down, Paso Comes Alive With Light

When the Sun Goes Down, Paso Comes Alive With Light, originally published in Touring & Tasting, Spring/Summer 2020.

PASO ROBLES HAS ITS VERY OWN FIELD OF DREAMS

Strolling along the stunning, 15-acre outdoor art exhibit “Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio” is a mesmerizing experience that defies description.

Designed to enhance the natural topography of the rolling hills with a colorful array of almost 60,000 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics that gently illuminate the landscape, guests stroll through property accompanied by live music and surrounded by blooms of morphing color.

A nighttime-only attraction, which comes alive when the sun goes down, visitors from 41 countries have come to experience Field of Light, says Sensorio Executive Director Tracy Strann of the installation, which has attracted worldwide press and acclaim, and significantly exceeded attendance expectations. Because of the high demand, the immersive exhibit’s run has been extended through June 30.

This solar powered artwork has attracted more than 110,000 visitors to date, according to Strann.

Munro, a London-born artist, is best known for large-scale light-based artworks that have been exhibited around the world.

Along with its beauty, the Paso Robles, California spot has also become known as a romantic setting for popping the question, with Sensorio staff reporting at least six marriage proposals on the grounds to date. Guests can toast their good wishes with a glass of wine, as on-site amenities include food and alcoholic beverages, as well as a special VIP terrace option offering a more extensive dining experience with a breathtaking seated view of the exhibit.

Tickets are available for Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio Thursdays through Sundays through June 30. For more information, visit SensorioPaso.com or call 805/226-4287.

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