Gym Handy

Originally published in the November 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

There’s no need to miss a workout since DreamQuest Fitness (dreamquestfitness.com) launched its mobile gym experience.

The brainchild of fitness trainers Jose and Tiffany Fernandez, the fold-out trailer housing all the necessary equipment in a hygienic workout space comes to exercisers’ homes and offices in the Conejo Valley, Moorpark, Simi Valley, and Calabasas.

“It wasn’t until the pandemic struck that we both realized the necessity for a mobile gym,” says Tiffany. “We believe there are a vast number of people, like us, who are fitness-minded and feel uncomfortable with our new normal.”

Book a fitness assessment, a one-one-one or group personal training package, or open workout sessions (from $12 per hour) for up to 12 participants (face coverings required) via the website.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

2020 Best of Santa Barbara

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

I had the honor of writing the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa Barbara winners once again this year. It was a huge, fun project, and a little easier the second time around.  Even (or maybe especially) in this weird year, people were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing by clicking here, or on the PDFs below.

Introduction + Eating 770 10-15-20_Part1

Eating 770 10-15-20_Part2

Eating, Drink, Out & About + Romance 770 10-15-20_Part3

Romance 770 10-15-20_Part4

Romance, Looking Good, Living Well, Sporting Life, Little Creatures, Housing + Driving 770 10-15-20_Part5

Driving + Media 770 10-15-20_Part6

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

Sonoma’s Field of Dreams

Sonoma’s Field of Dreams originally published in Touring & Tasting spring/summer 2020.

Come by Balletto Vineyards winery on any given Sunday in the spring and summer, and you’ll hear the happy sounds of bats cracking, children laughing and the occasional cheers. Nestled among the winery’s 700 acres of Russian River Valley AVA estate vineyards is a four-acre regulation-sized baseball field.

How did this real life field of dreams come to be? “John Balletto’s hardworking vineyard staff approached him and asked if he would sponsor their league baseball team,” says brand ambassador Nick Frey. “In true John Balletto fashion, he went above and beyond. The Balletto family set four acres of land aside and donated the materials while the vineyard crew donated the labor, so everyone feels a sense of ownership and pride.”

Employees now use the regulation-size field to play in a league with teams from the Bay Area, says Frey. The Balletto team includes vineyard operations manager Manuel Vallejo, a 32-year employee who first approached the boss about building the field in 2002 and still plays with Los Uveros (The Grapers).

Surrounded by vineyards and nestled below a winemaking production area, the field is not directly viewable from the tasting room, but offers a great view for the Balletto staff. The winery does offer a walking tour that takes you around the vineyard and stops right at the field. ballettovineyards.com

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

StarCycle Puts Indoor Cycling in the Spotlight

StarCycle is one of Santa Barbara’s hottest new fitness studios. Courtesy photo.

“It’s a dance party on a bike, like when you’re at a wedding and your jam comes on and you don’t care what anybody thinks — you just get up there and move your body.” That’s how co-owner Dani Stone describes the workout at StarCycle. The La Cumbre Plaza fitness center is part of a new breed of indoor cycling studios that use music and choreography for a physical and mental approach to cycling.

At StarCycle, the lights go off before the 45-minute full-body workout begins.

“The most appealing part to me has been that we work out in the dark, which allows you to really focus on yourself and just ‘do you,’ — modifying as needed,” said Julie Sorenson, who joined the gym on an introductory membership in March 2019 (StarCycle opened on February 28) and recently completed her 170th ride.

“The community there is incredible, and the instructors are super motivating,” she said. “It’s empowering. I can feel the positive energy in the room when I ride. The full-body workout (with weights) has also helped me heal from a shoulder injury.”

Another big appeal for members is that childcare is always available. Moms are the target demographic for the studio, explained co-owner Kayla Johnson-Neal, a personal trainer and fitness professional who’s been working in the industry for 24 years. “With young kids, they are maybe at a phase in life where they aren’t that challenged, so the challenge of doing this workout is like they’ve climbed Mount Everest. It is so fun to watch.”

Themed music rides, ranging from holiday specials to boy bands, Coachella, Stagecoach, and special “naughty rides with explicit lyrics” are also part of the attraction, as is the warm, welcoming atmosphere, where clients are greeted with smiles and hugs.

“I’ve never seen results like this in all of my years of experience. And we’re only a year in now. People have melted,” Johnson-Neal said. “But you know what I love? Weight loss is not what they talk about. Somebody came up to me yesterday and hugged me and started crying and saying, ‘I’m a better wife and a better mom because of StarCycle.’ She’s lost weight, but that’s not where the focus is, and that’s what I think is so cool.”

Tips from Kayla:

  • Find something that you love. “Love” might be an extreme word, but find something that you don’t hate. I’m always telling clients that you need to find a workout that’s going to make you a little bit excited to show up.
  • You don’t have to go all or nothing. It’s just consistency. Maybe it’s kickboxing; maybe it’s Zumba. Just be consistent in that movement.

For more information, visit starcycleride.com/studios/santa-barbara.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on January 21, 2020.

StarCycle co-owner Kayla Johnson-Neal, right, has been in the fitness industry for 24 years, courtesy photo.

LEVI GILBERT | Art Meets Action

Levi Gilbert interview from 805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Falling down stairs, crashing motorcycles, and taking death-defying leaps off the sides of cliffs are all in a day’s work for Levi Gilbert, a 2017 Santa Barbara High School graduate who got his first Hollywood stunt job as soon as he turned 18 and was legally allowed to perform. This might seem like a crazy career choice to some, but stunt performing is in Gilbert’s blood. His grandfather Mickey Gilbert’s career dates back to the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and his father, Lance Gilbert, was Mel Gibson’s personal stuntman.

“I got started doing stunt work with the guidance of my dad,” says the 20-year-old Gilbert, who has already appeared in TV series such as 9-1-1, 13 Reasons Why, Ballers, Daybreak, Silicon Valley, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as the upcoming Ford v Ferrari film, which is generating Oscar buzz. “He has always helped me by giving me every opportunity to learn something new and expand my skill sets.

“Directors know exactly what they want from the stunt performers, but it’s up to you to make it happen safely,” says the youngest of the Gilbert family stunt artists. “The most dangerous stunts I have done so far in my career would probably be stair falls.” He starred as a young naval lieutenant who fell to a dramatic death in an NCIS: New Orleans episode this year.

“Difficulty and danger often go hand in hand,” he says. “But for me the hardest stunt isn’t a stunt at all—it’s acting—which is something I am working on and trying to understand the art of.”

Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, October 2019. 805 Living Oct 2019 The 805’s Got Talent

Pebble Beach 
Takes Luxury to New Levels

A breathtaking view of Pebble Beach Golf Links, photo by Johann Dost.

A breathtaking view of Pebble Beach Golf Links, photo by Johann Dost.

As you step onto the greens, the beauty and drama of Pebble Beach simply takes your breath away. The fabled course celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019 by hosting the U.S. Open Championships for the sixth time, and in preparation for the centennial milestone they’ve done loads of improvements and restorations on an already prime vacation destination.

An aerial of The Lodge at 
Pebble Beach and the 18th hole, circa 1920s. Photo courtesy, Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

An aerial of The Lodge at 
Pebble Beach and the 18th hole, circa 1920s. Photo courtesy, Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

Ranked the #1 public course in America by Golf Digest Magazine along with a #1 rating among the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S.” by Golf Magazine, Pebble Beach Golf Links is certainly one of the greatest courses in the world, with a combination of coastal beauty, remarkable architecture and legendary golf history. Golf Digest Magazine describes the course as “not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes [#4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #17, #18] perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf.”

After missing the Crosby Pro-Am from 1947-1950, Bob Hope finally showed up 
to play in 1951. Bing Crosby decided he’d better catch the 
moment on film. Photo by J.P. Graham, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

After missing the Crosby Pro-Am from 1947-1950, Bob Hope finally showed up 
to play in 1951. Bing Crosby decided he’d better catch the 
moment on film. Photo by J.P. Graham, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

Clint Eastwood was paired with Ray Floyd in 
the Crosby Clambake in 
the late 1960s. Photo by W.C. Brooks, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

Clint Eastwood was paired with Ray Floyd in 
the Crosby Clambake in 
the late 1960s. Photo by W.C. Brooks, courtesy Pebble Beach Company.

We recently got to stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach—in a gorgeous ocean view room overlooking the 18th hole—and indulged in the legendary guest experience that makes Pebble Beach so special. While golf is obviously King at Pebble Beach, for the non-golfers like me, the other elements are equally royal: starting with the absolutely stellar service. From the moment we rolled up to the door to check in—our road weary Honda taking its place of honor amongst the perfectly detailed BMWs and Teslas—we were treated with the type of gracious hospitality that every inn in the world should aspire to emulate. 

I never wanted to leave.

Our casually luxurious, coastally inspired room was comfortable yet completely lavish, with every amenity you could imagine—including full-size, top-of-the-line shampoo and conditioner, which I loved! The ocean-front patio was a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset, watch the whales spout, as if on cue, and toast to the decadence of this plum assignment.

Our room had been recently renovated to expand the window walls to maximize views of the course and the ocean and double the size of the patio and deck to serve as an outdoor living space, as well as new indoor furnishings and accessories, bathroom upgrades, a signature fireplace wall, air conditioning and technology upgrades including 55-inch HDTVs, new lighting, energy management systems and state-of-the-art door locks. The place may be 100 years old, but the rooms are up-to-date in every way imaginable.

Fairway One Cottage Room, photo by Sherman Chu.

Fairway One Cottage Room, photo by Sherman Chu.

Another recent addition is Fairway One, which added 30 oversized guest rooms and cottages fronting the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links and a new meeting facility, as well as a 2,500-square-foot meeting room. 

“The Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links are where our story began in 1919, and now, as we approach our 100th anniversary, the addition of Fairway One will help us continue that legacy for the next 100 years,” says Bill Perocchi, CEO of Pebble Beach Company. The new section includes two gorgeous four-bedroom cottages with 1,000-square-foot living rooms with 17-foot-high wood-beam ceilings, wood-burning floor-to-ceiling stacked stone fireplaces, two king bedrooms, two queen/queen bedrooms, and an outdoor terrace with fire pits, as well as full kitchens.

 

Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her first honeymoon at Pebble Beach in 1950 with Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. Photo courtesy Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her first honeymoon at Pebble Beach in 1950 with Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. Photo courtesy Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archive.

What a perfect spot to make your home away from home. It’s almost enough to make you want to cook on vacation.

The other culinary options are also plentiful, with six restaurants onsite. Specializing in seafood, Stillwater Bar & Grill is an elegant destination for a relaxing dinner overlooking the fairways. The Tap Room serves a selection of American tavern-style classics, and The Terrace Lounge is a lovely spot to sit back and relax in one of the oversized armchairs while sipping on a cocktail and enjoying panoramic golf course views. Gallery Café offers home-style breakfast and lunch. For cove and ocean views, enjoy lunch at The Beach Club. The Bench is a casual spot overlooking the 18th hole, specializing in crafted cocktails and wood-roasted dishes, with a large central bar and patio tables with fire pits to warm your al fresco dining experience and roast marshmallows for símoreís.

If that’s not enough to entertain you, there’s a free shuttle service to sister property The Inn at Spanish Bay, offering another six dining options.

Guests are also provided complimentary access to The Beach & Tennis Club at Pebble Beach, a swanky venue near the renowned 17th hole, featuring tennis, workout facilities and a heated pool. Then there’s The Spa at Pebble Beach—one of only 56 spas in the world to receive the coveted Forbes Five-Star Award—offering an array of blissful body treatments that incorporate the healing properties of plants, herbs and minerals indigenous to the Monterey Peninsula.

The Spa at Pebble Beach, photo by Scott Campbell.

The Spa at Pebble Beach, photo by Scott Campbell.

Pebble Beach’s gorgeous 17-Mile Drive—one of the most scenic rides in the world, encompassing both stunning natural beauty and incredible architecture—is always one of the highlights of a visit to the area, and as guests of The Lodge at Pebble Beach we were able to do the drive in style, test driving a brand new Lexus sports car. 

Is it any wonder we didn’t want to leave? I may have to take up golf as an excuse to visit again soon.

For reservations or more information, call 800/654-9300 or visit pebblebeach.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Get ready for another fun festival when the Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival returns to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on Saturday, September 8.

The festival combines polo, local wine, and music for a unique one-day experience that includes musical performances by ZZ Ward, Booker T. Jones, California Honeydrops, Quinn DeVeaux and DJ Sets by Soul Dust Productions.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

The Festival features a careful curation of local food and wineries, including Jardesca, Lavender Oak Vineyard, Old Creek Ranch, Sanford Winery, Standing Sun Wines, Summerland Winery and more. In addition to a wine tasting hour from 1 -2 p.m. where attendees will having a chance to sample all of the featured wines, there’s also a VIP champagne and cheese hour from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

In addition, sommelier guided wine tasting tours will be available on a first come first serve basis and attendees will be guided across all of the wineries of the festival and given an overview, history, and tasting notes at each winery as well.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

There are several different levels of experiences and perks available at the Festival, so visit sbpoloandwine.com for all of the specifics.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by David Lominska.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by David Lominska.

In addition, this year, the Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival is the kick-off event to the 8-goal polo series at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. This will be an official polo game of the series, and is sure to be an incredible match. While not mandatory, the game’s elegant atmosphere will encourage guests to get in touch with their inner Julia Roberts (think the polo match scene in Pretty Woman). The bigger and more elaborate the hat the better, although September 8 is my birthday, so I might just wear my tiara! 

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is located at 3300 Via Real, Carpinteria.

Nick Waterhouse at Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Nick Waterhouse at Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Andrew Thill.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival, photo by Jon Endow.

Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 3, 2018.

Local Lowdown: Flip Your Disk at Cachuma Lake

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Add flipping frisbees to the long list of fun recreational activities of­fered at Cachuma Lake, which now has an 18-hole championship level disc golf course! The 2.25-mile course is designed to challenge both newbies and experts, with multiple basket positions available to make the course different each time you play.

This rapidly growing sport—disc golf is the 4th fastest-growing sport in United States, behind MMA, Roller Derby and Parkour, according to parkeddiscgolf.org—has rules that are similar to golf, with a set course and baskets set up as targets. Players seek to complete the course—which begins and ends in front of Cachuma Store—in the lowest number of total throws.

Play is free with a $10 parking fee. Cachuma Lake is located off scenic Hwy. 154 in Santa Barbara County.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit countyofsb.org/parks/cachuma.sbc.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

It’s Football Season at the Garden

Courtesy The Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Courtesy The Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Sunday Funday is now happening every week at The Garden inside the Santa Barbara Public Market. With NFL Sunday Ticket and wide coverage of NCAA Football, you’ll never miss a game. Plus, the Garden is now serving up breakfast on weekends starting at 9 a.m. in this fun, family-friendly new venue.

Plant yourself in The Garden and enjoy Fried Chicken & Waffles, Chilaquiles, Monster Breakfast Burritos and lighter fare including egg white omelettes and housemade granola served with yogurt and locally grown fruit. Breakfast drink specials also include fresh mimosas and micheladas.

Courtesy the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Courtesy the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Located inside the Santa Barbara Public Market, The Garden offers guests the ability to view all the games while enjoying food and 41 craft beers and eight wines on the always rotating on-tap menu.

The Garden is located at 38 W. Victoria St. (at Chapala) with free underground parking. For more information, visit sbpublicmarket.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Fried Chicken and Waffles from the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Fried Chicken and Waffles from the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Mary’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich topped with jalapeno slaw & house pickles on a sesame bun from the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Mary’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich topped with jalapeno slaw & house pickles on a sesame bun from the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Courtesy the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Courtesy the Garden at Santa Barbara Public Market.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 6, 2016.