In a lather

MV5BMTg1NTc4Mzk1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc4NjY4MQ@@._V1_SX214_I have a really, really, really embarrassing confession to make. I hope you won’t think less of me, but I’m trying to come to terms with something I’ve kept hidden for far too long. I’m addicted to teen soap operas.

Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill,” “Privileged,” I’ve got the whole CW oeuvre on my DVR.

I haven’t been a teenager for more than two decades and I don’t even have a teenager to watch these shows with–or a tweenager for that matter–but that doesn’t stop me from obsessing about these shows.

I wish I could blame my family, but my son would rather kick a ball or read books or even do homework than watch such ridiculous TV. And my husband, well, let’s just say that watching any of these shows with my husband would be opening myself up to a level of ridicule far greater than a combination platter of split ends, zits, and the wrong kind of hair band.

I blame it all on Jason Priestly and his sparkly blue eyes. If it wasn’t for that innocent-but-not-so-innocent twinkle, I would have never become addicted to “Beverly Hills 90210,” and then “Melrose Place” and “Dawson’s Creek” and all of those painfully captivating shows. Forget the fact that I had already graduated from college the first time I laid eyes on Brandon Walsh. Here was the nice, smart guy I’d been looking for, the one who has no idea how incredibly good looking he was.

Forget that I was way out of high school and shacking up with my husband in “Beverly Hills 90210’s” heyday. If Jason Priestly could still play a high school kid at age 27, then I could certainly ogle him.

That’s what got me hooked and has kept me hooked for all of these years. If it’s a soapy show set in a suburban high school, I just can’t stop myself from watching it.

After all, every single one of those shows has a Brandon Walsh character, which means I just can’t look away.

Over the years there’s been “The OC,” “My So-Called Life,” “Party of Five,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Hidden Palms,” “Roswell,” “Felicity“–an irresistible lineup of interchangeable shows with semi-riveting plots about bullies, foster kids, teen pregnancy, shoplifting, back stabbing girlfriends and the underlying theme that life is rough for adolescents, especially the affluent ones with $500 purses and $900 shoes.

The quality of the shows even got better for a while, not that it was ever about quality–and for a time there was “Veronica Mars” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which my husband would actually watch with only minor mockery.

Despite the varying levels of quality in teen soaps, there are always a few constants I can rely on: a bunch of pretty, stylishly dressed people living out a make-believe existence in which high school kids reside without parental supervision, except for the one intact family with a telegenic kitchen where “the gang” can gather for holidays and special episodes.

Watching is a guilty pleasure but it feels good to come clean.

I haven’t missed an episode of the new “90210,” where a few of the original characters are still hanging around West Beverly High and the Peach Pit. It’s not fabulous television, but it’s fun and reliably entertaining and a great way to decompress after a long hard day of trying to be a grown up.

Plus I hear Jason Priestly’s going to direct a few episodes.

Share your guilty television pleasures with email. For more columns visit
Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on October 24, 2008.

Grants in Action: Women’s Fund Members Witness the Power of Their Collective Gifts

Ninth annual site visit highlights the work of local nonprofit organizations benefiting from $525,000 in contributions

Women's Fund members get a firsthand look at a Notes for Notes jam room at the Westside Boys & Girls Club during Thursday's annual site visits to grant recipients. (Peter De Tagyos photo)

Women’s Fund members get a firsthand look at a Notes for Notes jam room at the Westside Boys & Girls Club during Thursday’s annual site visits to grant recipients. (Peter De Tagyos photo)


It’s often said that seeing is believing, and that was certainly the case for more than 150 members of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara last Thursday as they toured local nonprofit agencies to see what their most recent $525,000 in grants were doing to help the community. The annual site visit included tours of three nonprofit facilities — Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara, Doctors Without Walls (Transition House) and the Westside Boys & Girls Club — as well as presentations by representatives from Future Leaders of America, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Isla Vista Youth Projects, the Youth Violence Prevention Program and Women’s Economic Ventures.

Together these eight charities comprise the most recent recipients of 55 grants totaling $4,125,000 to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since the Women’s Fund began in 2004.

Always a highlight for members, this ninth annual site visit offered an opportunity for people to observe firsthand how their donations are making a crucial difference in their neighbor’s lives, as well as how powerful their individual gifts can become when they are part of a collective philanthropy group.

Traveling via Santa Barbara Airbus, the site visit included a stop at Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara, which received a $50,000 grant to use for emergency supplemental food and case management to aid low-income families in crisis.

Frank Bognar, regional director, says the facility serves approximately 8,500 people a year. Explaining the various services Catholic Charities offers — which include case management, food distribution, life skills planning, counseling services, operating the Thrifty Shopper store and providing vouchers to clients, medical treatment, grants and referrals, emergency shelter assistance, older adult services and holiday programs — Bognar said, “We try to both provide the fish and teach people how to fish.”

The next stop was the Westside Boys & Girls Club, which received a $75,000 grant for renovation and expansion of its clubhouse to create an educational resource center for teens and pre-teens.

Gina Carbajal, executive director of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, explained that the group provides services to 7,000 children throughout the county, including about 200 per day at the Westside Club. The resource center donated by the Women’s Fund will provide students with a quiet learning space of their own, offering homework help and tutoring.

Development/grant specialist Donna Reeves gave an overview of a typical day at the Westside Boys & Girls Club.

“Getting homework done is the first priority,” she said, explaining that the children are given incentives to get their work done as well as assistance when they need it.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara was among three sites toured Thursday by members of the Women’s Fund. (Peter De Tagyos photo)

David Lee, regional director of Notes for Notes, an independent nonprofit that has a satellite studio at the club, also gave tours of a very impressive “jam room” where children receive free access to musical instruments, instruction and a recording studio.

The third site toured was Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine, which received a two-year Women’s Fund grant for a total of $50,000 for the Women’s Free Homeless Clinic to provide medical care and essential services to unsheltered and marginally sheltered women in a safe, female-only environment. The clinic is located at Transition House, where treasurer Marguerite Sanchez welcomed members.

“The mission of Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine is to provide free, volunteer medical care for the most vulnerable, underserved populations in Santa Barbara County, when and where they are in need,” she said. “(The clinic) serves a highly marginalized, at-risk population living in extreme poverty. Many of the women we treat have been victims of domestic violence as well assault, affecting their ability to take adequate care of themselves. … They live in parks, in cars, under freeways, on the beaches and the streets. Many more of our women live in the public shelter system where services have been dropped to an all-time low and sometimes the only hot meal they receive is the one provided at our clinic.”

A tasty sample of one of those hot meals was provided to Women’s Fund members by the Organic Soup Kitchen, which partners with Transition House and the women’s clinic to provide nutritious food. This year they anticipate serving 20,000 meals to needy people in the community, with a need for 30,000 meals anticipated in 2014.

The buses then went to the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club for additional presentations by grant recipients.

“The Women’s Fund site visit is part of the rigorous research process that ensures we have effective, creative programs and agencies from which to select when we cast our votes,” site visit chair Sarah Stokes said. “The progress of our grantees is then followed to confirm the money we’ve donated is being well spent. … Today, we have the opportunity to see firsthand the effective use of our collective funds and hear from the grantees how your money is being put to use and the work we are doing together to change the lives of women, children and families in our community.”

On behalf of Future Leaders of America, which received a $65,000 grant for leadership training and academic support for local high school students, program director Gabriela Rodriguez said, “Due in large part to Women’s Fund support, Future Leaders hosted a weeklong youth leadership camp for 95 new participants (64 of them from Southern Santa Barbara County) at Cal State Channel Islands. During the summer camp, Future Leaders works to create an environment where the ‘Impossible’ becomes the ‘I’m Possible.’ Students learn to effectively express their opinions and ideas, discuss their challenges and fears and develop the necessary skills to advocate for themselves at home, school and in their community.

“The youth we served this summer come from the most marginalized areas of our community. From Santa Barbara alone, 37 percent of the youth come from low and 53 percent come from extremely low-income families. More than one-third come from single-parent homes. This is only important to highlight because I can assure you that the lives we touched are the ones that need our support the most.”

As the recipient of a $50,000 grant to Girls Inc. of Carpinteria to fund Eureka!, which is a dropout prevention and college readiness program designed to encourage young girls to attend college and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, according to Executive Director Victoria Juarez.

“This summer, thanks to your investment in the Eureka! program, Girls Inc. Carpinteria sent 42 eighth- and ninth-grade girls to the UCSB campus, where they spent four weeks learning what it takes to succeed in higher education,” she said. “Many of them will be the first in their family to attend college, and we have had the honor to see them inspired, challenged and sometimes perplexed as they navigated an entirely new environment. They are all, without a doubt, much better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a college education.”

Board member Dr. Yoni Harris spoke on behalf of Isla Vista Youth Projects, which received $50,000 for capital funds to improve interior and exterior areas, including the playground at the Isla Vista Family Resource Center.

“As you all know, there is no shortage of nonprofit agencies or good causes in Santa Barbara,” Harris said. “The Youth Projects rises to the top of my priority list because of their commitment to an underserved community, depth and breadth of programming, passion of the staff and, most of all, the children and families who come through the door every day.

“The Women’s Fund grant has allowed us to make some much-needed capital and safety improvements to our Family Resource Center, which serves as the service hub for Isla Vista and Goleta families. Although not glamorous work, these improvements were certainly necessary work. The Youth Projects offers a continuum of programming beginning with babies, toddlers and preschoolers who attend the full-day year round Children’s Center. These same children later attend the after-school and summer program at Isla Vista school kindergarten through sixth grade. … Thank you again for your faith in our ability to make a difference in our small part of the county.”

Next up was Melissa Garcia from the Youth Violence Prevention Program, which received $85,000 to provide funding for a female outreach worker helping at-risk girls in Santa Barbara secondary schools.

“Females ages 12 to 19 are the fastest-growing segment in the youth corrections system, and locally, the number of girls entering the probation system has more than doubled over the past eight years,” she said.

Garcia works with about 40 eighth-grade and freshmen girls, with five to seven girls at each school site.

“I pull them out of class once a week, and we talk about different topics that they have chosen that they want to know more about — for example, domestic violence, teen dating, healthy relationships, trust, drug abuse, depression, anger control and better communication,” she said. “I have created a safe environment for these girls to open up. I thought it was going to take a few weeks before the girls really started to talk openly to me, but I was wrong. They want to tell someone what is going on in their lives. They want to be heard. They want someone to be there for them. They want someone to listen without judging them and to help them develop more positive strategies to deal with their situations.

“There is also a great need for us to empower these young women, because if we don’t, they might eventually drop out of school, get involved in unhealthy relationships, become addicted to drugs or even end up pregnant. … All of these young women that I work with have so much potential, and it is my job to help them realize just how much potential they have. Anything is possible in this world, and I am going to do whatever it takes for these girls to see that and start to believing in themselves.”

The final grant recipient was Marsha Bailey, founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures, which received a $100,000 Women’s Fund grant that established a micro-loan fund to assist low-income women in South Santa Barbara County start or expand their own businesses.

“WEV’s mission is to create an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women,” she said. “The fact is that the lack of financial resources restricts a woman’s freedom and choices. Period. The truth of this is still seen today: In 2010, only 14 percent of SBA loan dollars went to women. Undercapitalization is the most common reason for business failure. WEV created its Small Business Loan Fund to ensure that low- and moderate-income women could get the money they needed to invest in their businesses until they could become bankable — a process that usually takes at least three years.”

Bailey explained that the $100,000 from the Women’s Fund resulted in a matching grant from the Treasury Department CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), in effect doubling the grant.

“In fact, Treasury matched the Women’s Fund grant plus $500,000,” Bailey said. “We thank you, the members of the Women’s Fund, that voted for our grant of $100,000. Know that you are helping change the path of poverty in Santa Barbara.”

Steering Committee chair Sallie Coughlin wrapped up the event: “I am happy to report that our membership contributions are on track for this year, which means that when we next meet — at the Presentation Awards, which will be on Monday, April 28 — we expect to award at least $500,000 in grants to local nonprofits.”

About the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara

The Women’s Fund is a collective donor group that has awarded 55 grants totaling $4,125,000 to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since it began in 2004. The concept is simple: Women’s Fund members pool their charitable donations, research critical community needs and then vote on which agencies will receive the funds collected during the year. The annual site visit is a midyear progress review that enables Women’s Fund members to see their gifts in action.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, or call 805.963.1873.

Originally published on Noozhawk on October 21, 2013.

Cocktail Corner: Literary Libations

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg |

The Cocktail Chart of Film & Literature (Pop Chart Art)

The Cocktail Chart of Film & Literature (Pop Chart Art)

The James Bond Vodka Martini order—”shaken, not stirred”—is one of the most famous literary libation catch phrases (I’ve even used it myself, in a fake deep British accent of course!), but there are plenty of others.

Ian Fleming himself had a long line of cocktails for 007, including the Negroni, Americano and Vesper.

From Daisy Buchanan‘s Mint Julep and Jay Gatsby‘s Gin Rickey in The Great Gatsby to Zaphod Beeblebrox‘s Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, our fictional friends make pretty good bartenders.

They also make for pretty good graphics. Check out The Cocktail Chart of Film & Literature from Pop Chart Labs. If your idea of a perfect evening is to settle in with a good cocktail and a great novel (or a good cocktail and a great movie) then you’ll love this poster.

tequila-mockingbird1-350x400If you lack wall space for the poster, dip into Tim Federle‘s Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, a highly entertaining recipe book that pays homage to literary libations with drinks like Romeo and Julep, The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose, Love in the Time of Kahlua, The Deviled Egg Wears Prada and more.

Whoever said drinking doesn’t make you smarter obviously never read this book. Cheers!

Click below for a fun look at James Bond ordering his favorite cocktail.

Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 25, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

We’ve got a crush on Coveted Cakery

Treats from Coveted Cakery,Kristine Cramer Photography

Treats from Coveted Cakery,Kristine Cramer Photography

When sweet lady Jessica Burton of Coveted Cakery contacted us and asked if we wanted to sample her fall flavors, we knew we were in for a treat! Awesome autumn flavors include Pumpkin Spice, Salted Carmel and Pistachio Honey, as well as the always-delicious Double Chocolate, Snickerdoodle and (my personal favorite) Chocolate Chip cupcakes with a Chocolate Chip cookie on top!

Whether you want something sweet for a small family gathering, an enormous wedding, or anything in between, Burton will bake up cupcakes to order, made fresh and customized just for you. She also makes beautiful customized cookies, like the ones with the fall issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS. As if we weren’t already putty in the hands of this delicious baking company, aren’t these cookies adorable?

You too can taste these yummy cupcakes this weekend at Taste of the Central Coast on Sunday (Oct. 27), hosted by the Family Care Network at the beautiful Bacara Resort & Spa (8301 Hollister Ave.).

More sweet treats from Coveted Cakery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

More sweet treats from Coveted Cakery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Not only will your tastebuds get a treat, this event is a fundraiser to provide private funding to support the crucial needs of children, youth, and families affected by trauma. Click here to purchase tickets.

For more information all of the sweet treats Burton offers, visit

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 23, 2013.

Cocktail Corner: Halloween Cocktail Couture

Shotcha Bandolier from (note the Santa Barbara Mission in the background)

Shotcha Bandolier from (note the Santa Barbara Mission in the background)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg |

Halloween is a great time to get your creative juices flowing. Sure there are zillions of spooky cocktail recipes out there, but what about cocktail-themed Halloween costumes?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Believe it or not, there’s a website called and they have a great Bloody Mary and Chaser costume, complete with instructions from Katie in Madison, WI. This sure beats flipping a coin with your significant other for who has to wear the back of the horse costume.

That same awesome website has a great Sex and the City-inspired Cosmo costume by Randi from New York City, of course!

Presumably this is Katie in her cool Bloody Mary costume.

Presumably this is Katie in her cool Bloody Mary costume. has a fun—and flattering—idea for a Blue Hawaiian costume using tulle and Hawaiian print fabric (a great way to upcycle some of those old shirts too).

For those of us who would rather drink than sew, there are plenty of great commercially made cocktail-themed costumes too. Check out this great Martini dress from



Or there’s a really cute Champagne costume available from and a number of other sites. has a fun Margarita costume for the gals, and an even better Beer Keg costume for the guys.

There’s also a great Beer Pong Costume (red cup and all!) from a great website, With a name like Boozing Gear, you can bet they’ve got a great selection of bar-themed costumes, including Captain Morgan, Colt 45 Malt Liquor, Old Milwaukee Beer and a Strawberry Daquiri.

If that’s not enough to inspire you, what about a costume that actually comes with cocktails (well, shot glasses to be exact)? Check out the Shotcha Bandolier from After Five Catalog located right here in Goleta!   Now that’s what I call Halloween Cocktail Couture!

Hope to see you out in style.


Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally appeared in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine on October 18, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

One Radio Host, Two Dancers Features NPR’s Ira Glass

Ira Glass and dancers, Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Ira Glass and dancers, Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Ira Glass with dancers?

That’s right, the always entertaining host of NPR’s This American Life has taken to the road with choreographer Monica Bill Barnes & Company for a quirky show combining two art forms that, as Glass puts it, “have no business being together – dance and radio.”

Coming to The Granada on Saturday, October 19 from UCSB Arts & Lectures, the resulting show is said to be “a hilarious, lively and very talky evening of dance and captivating stories that brought down the house in its test run at Carnegie Hall,” according to the organizers.

How did this surprising collaboration begin?

In May 2012, they collaborated on three short dances that were part of a This American Life variety show that was beamed into movie theaters nationwide. It was such a success that they decided to do a full show that combines stories and dance. Some are performed together on stage by Glass, Barnes and dancer Anna Bass. For a few, the dancers or the radio host take over for a while. The result? A funny and strangely wonderful evening exploring the life of the artist.

“This is the perfect show for anyone who has ever thought to themselves, ‘God, Ira Glass’ show is the most awesome radio show ever, except it’s missing modern dance,’ ” Glass says.

The show starts at 8 p.m. for more information or tickets call 805/893-3535, visit or The Granada Theatre at 805/899-2222,

 Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 18, 2013.


¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! welcomes Los Vega Son Jarocho

Los-Vega.sm_This week ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbarawelcomes Los Vega Son Jarocho, fifth generation jarocho musicians from Veracruz, Mexico. Carrying on a longstanding family tradition, Los Vega brings a fresh pespective to this distinctive style, playing jaranas (small guitars), percussion, vocals and zapateado (footwork). 

According to the organizers, “for more than five generations the Vega family has contributed to traditional son jarocho, taking on the responsibility of keeping a musical expression alive through the generations. Son jarocho is a style of music with origins in music brought from Spain in the colonial period, melded with indiginous folk music, dynamic Afro-Caribbean beats and wise-cracking wordplay unique to the tropical Veracruz region on the Gulf of Mexico. It is music traditionally played on stringed instruments such as the jarana, a strummed guitar with eight to ten strings, three of which are double, and the requinto, a small four-stringed guitar, and is accompanied by intricate dance or zapateado, often performed on wooden platforms or tarimas.”

They will perform a free family concert at Isla Vista School at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 18 (6875 El Colegio Rd., Goleta, 805/893-5037). On Saturday, October 19, they travel to Guadalupe City Hall for a free family concert at 7:30 p.m. (918 Obispo St., Guadalupe, 805/343-2939), returning to Santa Barbara to perform a free family concert at the Marjorie Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Jr. High on Sunday, October 20 at 7 p.m. (721 E. Cota St., 805/884-4087 x7).

In addition to these performances, on October 17, La Cumbre Jr. High and the Santa Barbara Westside Association co-host a unique opportunity to learn and practice with the musicians of Los Vega Son Jarocho in a free participatory workshop from 5:30–7 p.m. at La Cumbre Jr. High, 2255 Modoc Rd. Musicians and dancers of all levels are welcome to come play together. Please bring your own instrument —or be ready to sing and dance!

Based on a vision of accessible cultural offerings for Santa Barbara County’s Latino communities, ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! brings together diverse audiences at free famly events in neighborhood venues on five weekends each year. The program is a consortium of the Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts & Education Center, Isla Vista School, and UCSB Arts & Lectures, represented by co-ordinators Alíz Ruvalcaba, Graciela Parra and Catherine Boyer. Volunteers from PTAs, the California Youth Corps, UCSB sororities and fraternities, and many others, join together to host and staff the events.  

¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! is funded by The James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the SAGE, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Incredible Children’s Art Network, the UCSB Office of Education Partnerships, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, The Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund, the Santa Barbara IndependentSanta Barbara Latino, the Santa Maria SUNUnivisión, the Sandman Inn, Best Western South Coast Inn and Ramada Limited. This project is funded in part by the Community Arts Grant Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara, in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts CommissionCo-presented by the Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe Arts & Education Center and UCSB Arts & Lectures, in collaboration with the Isla Vista School After School Grant.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 17, 2013.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at The Granada

Founded as a multicultural dance company in 1982, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company was born of an 11-year artistic collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. Today, the company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world. UCSB Arts & Lectures presents this collaboration in an evening of movement and music on Wed., Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St.

According to the New York Times, “rarely has one seen a dance company throw itself onto the stage with such kinetic exaltation.” Hailed as “an irreplaceable dance treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition, Kennedy Center Honoree and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Bill T. Jones is a modern icon whose inventive choreography has shaped the evolution of contemporary dance, recently making its mark on Broadway in the hit show FELA!

For more information or to purchase tickets click here. Tickets are also available through The Granada Theatre at 805/ 899-2222 or

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS.

Cocktail Corner: Notes on Nebbiolo

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the cooler, sweater weather we’ve been having this week puts me in the mood for red wine.

Nebbiolo grapes, which I’ve been told get their name from the Italian word nebbia, meaning fog, are harvested about this time of year, primarily in the Piedmont region, to produce lovely light-colored Italian red wines like the 2008 Damilano Barolo Cannubi I was recently gifted with (and am told it’s available at Carpinteria Wine Co. , 4193 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria, 805/684-7440, It was delicious with chicken fajitas and fresh guacamole inspired by last week’s Avocado Festival, but it would likely be even better with a heavier, braised meat dish.

Probably the best-known local Nebbiolos are from Palima Wines, where Steve and Chrystal Clifton bring Italy to life in little ol’ Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto (1520 E. Chestnut Ct., Lompoc, 805/684-7440, By growing Italian varietals in Santa Barbara County, the winemakers are not trying to emulate Italian wines, “but rather translate the history of those grapes to the growing conditions and vineyard sites of the very unique characteristics of Santa Barbara County.” They’re lush, earthy, lovely reds, and are found on many local wine lists and in shops (although they tend to sell out quickly).

Bernat Estates Wines (made by the owners of Los Olivos Wine Merchant, where the wine is available at 2879 Grand Ave. in Los Olivos, 805/ 688-7265, has a certified organic Estate Nebbiolo, produced in Los Olivos, which has a brilliant color and a cranberry, orange and spicy aroma that definitely conjures up images of fall.

If you can find a bottle (Stolpman Vineyard stopped growing these particular grapes), Santa Barbara Winery’s 2007 Nebbiolo was the sixth and last year it was produced—order it online while you still can ( Arthur Earl also has a notable 2007 Nebbiolo from Stolpman Vineyard grapes,  available at its Los Olivos tasting room (2922 Grand Ave., 805/693-1771,


Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 11, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg

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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

New Season of “Met: Live” Metropolitan Opera Simulcasts in Hahn Hall

The Music Academy of the West has begun its season of high-definition screenings from ten Metropolitan Opera productions screening simulcasts in Hahn Hall, with Eugene Onegin,  which will screen again at 2 pm on Sunday, October 27.

According to a release from the Music Academy, “since its Moscow premiere in 1879, Tchaikovsky’s fateful romance based on Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel of the same name has endeared itself to opera lovers the world over. Conducted by Russian maestro Valery Gergiev and directed by Fiona Shaw, Deborah Warner’s new production stars soprano standout Anna Netrebko—opening her third consecutive Met season—in her company role debut as Tatiana, the naïve, love-struck heroine. Mariusz Kwiecien portrays the imperious title character, in a much-admired interpretation he has sung in many of the world’s leading opera houses, and Piotr Beczala reprises his acclaimed performance as Onegin’s friend-turned-rival, Lenski. Set in the late 19th century and capturing the splendor and passion of Tchaikovsky’s lyric opera, Warner’s production moves episodically from farmhouse to ballroom, with a powerful snowstorm providing the dramatic setting for the finale.”

The 2013-14 season of “Met: Live in HD” screenings at Hahn Hall will continue with Shostakovich’s The Nose (October 26 and November 24), Puccini’s Tosca (November 23 and December 15), Verdi’s Falstaff (December 14 and February 9), Dvořák’s Rusalka (February 8 and March 2), Borodin’s Prince Igor (March 1 and 16), Massenet’s Werther (March 15 and April 6), Puccini’s La Bohème (April 5 and 27), Mozart’s Così fan tutte starring Music Academy alumnae Isabel Leonard (’05) and Susanna Phillips (’02 and ’03) – (April 26 and May 11), and Rossini’s La cenerentola – starring Academy alumnus Juan Diego Flórez (’95) – (May 10 and 18).
Unlike previous seasons, the Music Academy will screen encores on Sunday afternoons following each subsequent opera’s live Saturday simulcast. Complete “Live in HD” schedule information is available online at tickets may be ordered online at or by calling 805/969-8787.  Free parking is available on the Music Academy campus.
Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.