Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

This weekend brings the first Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on Saturday October 7. The festival combines polo, local wine, and music for a unique one-day experience. This unique, full day experience features two polo matches, great music and tastings from some of Santa Barbara’s finest wineries.

While not a requirement, organizers encourage attendees to dress as you would for a typical polo game—like the movie Pretty Woman, when they are at the polo match.

The famous "Pretty Women" polo match scene, courtesy photo.

The famous “Pretty Women” polo match scene, courtesy photo.

Musicial performances by LP, Nick Waterhouse, Durand Jones & the Indications, Vieux Farka Toure and Macy Gray are on the bill. The Festival also features local food and wineries, including local contemporary California cuisine by Barbareno, Empanadas by Buena Onda and Asian-inflected American plates from The Black Sheep. Local wineries  include Happy Canyon Vineyard, Sanford Winery, Standing Sun Wines, Summerland Winery, August Ridge Vineyards and more.

“After attending our first polo match in the summer of 2016, it immediately became clear to us that a combination of polo, wine, and music would create an amazing experience,” organizer Josh Elion says.  “It’s a way of bringing three aspects of a community together and introducing people to the game of polo, new local wineries, or incredible musicians.  … This is truly a celebration of Santa Barbara and Southern California living, held at one of the most gorgeous venues along the west coast.”

Courtesy Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival.

A dollar of every ticket sold will be donated to Notes For Notes, a nonprofit organization that designs, equips, and staffs after-school recording studios inside Boys and Girls Clubs, offering youth the opportunity to explore, create, and record music for free.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sbpoloandwine.com.

Cheers! 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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 6, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Local Restaurants Earn Wine Spectator’s Top Honors

The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch, courtesy photo.

The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

As if there were any doubt that Santa Barbara County is Wine Country, Wine Spectator recently honored 20 local restaurants with their highest honors for excellence.

“Wine Spectator‘s Restaurant Awards recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers,” according to the guidelines.

The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch earned The Grand Award, which is Wine Spectator‘s highest honor, given to only 89 restaurants around the world. According to Wine Spectator, this honor is “given to restaurants that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine programs. These wine lists typically feature 1,000 or more selections, and deliver serious breadth of top producers, outstanding depth in mature vintages, a selection of large-format bottles, excellent harmony with the menu, and superior presentation. These restaurants offer the highest level of wine service.”

Angel Oak at the Bacara Resort & Spa, Los Olivos Wine Merchant & CafeOpal Restaurant & Bar and Wine Cask all earned The Best of Award of Excellence. “These wine lists display excellent breadth across multiple winegrowing regions and/or significant vertical depth of top producers, along with superior presentation. Typically offering 350 or more selections, these restaurants are destinations for serious wine lovers, showing a deep commitment to wine, both in the cellar and through their service team,” according to Wine Spectator.

“We are thrilled for the honor in our first year of opening,” says Anne Elcon, Director of Marketing & Communications at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Angel Oak Wine Cellar, LaFemme Photography, courtesy photo.

Angel Oak Wine Cellar, LaFemme Photography, courtesy photo.

Also receiving The Award of Excellence, for “wine lists, which typically offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style,” were several other local restaurants: BarbareñoBella Vista at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, Bouchon Santa Barbara, Chuck’s Steak House Of Hawaii, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, Olio Pizzeria, Olio e Limone Ristorante, S.Y. Kitchen, Sly’s, The Harbor Restaurant, The Hitching Post II, The Lark, Tre Lune and Willows at Chumash Casino Resort.

Cheers! 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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 14, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History‘s beloved wine festival, and they are commemorating the event with a new name—the Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival—which more accurately reflects the bounty of sips and bites found at this signature fundraiser.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

While the food and the wine have always flowed freely at the festival, this year events manager Meridith Moore has set a goal to have 50 food vendors on the roster this year to accompany the 50 wineries. “My hope is that the name change will help to attract even more of Santa Barbara county’s incredible food vendors and highlight the ones that have been participating all these years,” she says.

As of press time, food vendors include: BarbarenoBenchmarkBob’s Well BreadBrophy Bros.Buena OndaCa’ DarioCoffee Bean and Tea LeafChooket/Your Cake Baker, Corazon CocinaCountry CateringFarmer BoyFinch and Fork RestaurantGelson’s ~ Santa BarbaraHelena Avenue BakeryHippypopIl FustinoIndustrial EatsLa MousseLa SorelleLoquitaMichael’s CateringMr. E’s FreezeMulberry LovePacific Pickle WorksPicoRenaud’s Patissiere and Bakery , Slate Catering CoSolvang BakeryThe Bear and StarThe Berry ManTondi GelatoVia Maestra 42 and Whole Foods Santa Barbara.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

Wineries pouring this year include: Alexander & WayneAlma RosaAndrew Murray VineyardsArea 5.1Arthur Earl WineryAu Bon ClimatBabcock WineryBeckmen VineyardsBedford WineryBlair FoxBrander VineyardBrewer-CliftonButtonwoodByron by NielsonCa Del GrevinoCambriaCarr Vineyards and WineryCasa DumetzCebada, ConsilienceCORECrawford Family WinesDierbergDe PaolaEpiphany CellarsFalcone Family VineyardsFeliz NocheFess Parker Winery & VineyardFiddlehead Cellars,

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

Flying Goat CellarsFoxenGainey VineyardsGrassini Family VineyardsHilliard BruceJaffurs Wine CellarsJamie SloneKalyraKen Brown WinesKenneth Volk VineyardsKoehler WineryKuninLaFond WineryLarner WinesLongoriaLoring Wine CompanyLumenMargerum Wine CompanyMelvilleMosby Winery & VineyardMunicipal WinemakersNotary Public WinesOreanaPalminaPoint ConcepcionPotekPure Order Brewing CompanyQupéRancho Sisquoc WineryRefugio RanchRideauSagebrush Annie’sSanta Barbara WinerySilver WinesSpear WineryStar Lane VineyardSunstone WineryTablas CreekTatomerTercero WinesThird Window BrewingToucan WinesTranscendence WinesVogelzangWhitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa.

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta del Sol) are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Especially when the proceeds go to support the work of the museum. The event takes place on Saturday, June 24.

Guests 21 and older may purchase admission on the Museum’s website (www.sbnature.org/winefestival). This event is always a sellout, so if you want to join in the fun, act quickly or you not get tickets.

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 2, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro

The Bottlest Bistro Bathtub Martini, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottlest Bistro Bathtub Martini, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

I pride myself on being a bit of a cocktail connoisseur, but last week I saw one of the cleverest cocktail embellishments I’ve seen: a little rubber ducky floating in the Bathtub Martini at the new Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro in Buellton. Made with Andrew John’s Premium Gin and a twist of lemon, this isn’t the only clever cocktail on the menu.

The Bottlest Bistro Lavender Gin Paloma, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottlest Bistro Lavender Gin Paloma, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Gin is clearly having a moment, as evidenced by the lovely Lavender Gin Paloma (made with house-infused lavender gin, simple syrup and grapefruit juice) on the Bottlest menu.

We also liked the Dirty Flamingo (made with Giffard pamplemousse liqueur and crushed Prosecco), the Happy Canyon Daiquiri (comes standard with Real McCoy 3 year rum, lime, simple syrup and a dehydrated lime wheel, but can also be upgraded with Mount Gay Eclipse or even Plantation 5 Year Old Grand Reserve), and The Vandenberg (made with Milagro Silver Tequila, lime, simple syrup and a soda sidecar).

The Bottlest Margarita with Pinot Noir Salt Rim, courtesy photo.

The Bottlest Margarita with Pinot Noir Salt Rim, courtesy photo.

Also getting rave reviews is the Bottlest Margarita, made with Sauza Blue Reposado Tequila, orange liqueur, and a Pinot Noir salt rim—a clever touch that brings the wine and cocktail worlds together, as does this delicious new restaurant.

Hibiscus Lemonade and Lew's Gimlet from Bottlest Bistro, courtesy photo.

Hibiscus Lemonade and Lew’s Gimlet from Bottlest Bistro, courtesy photo.

The restaurant is new (with a fabulously elevated menu from former Head Chef of Barbareño Owen Hanavan), but the space (in conjunction with Terravant Winery) still offers its trademark “Wine Wall” of 52 constantly changing wines available by the taste, half glass or full glass. This is a definitely a destination that’s well worth the drive!

Cheers! Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro is located at 35 Industrial Way in Buellton (805/686-4742, bottlest.com/bistro).

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Bottlest Bistro Old Fashioned cocktail, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Bottlest Bistro Old Fashioned cocktail, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

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.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 21, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine Festival Gets Better With Age

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara Wine Festival—the first festival of its kind on the Central Coast—returns for the 29th year, hosted by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta Del Sol Rd.) on Saturday, June 25 from 2-5 p.m.

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Guests will sip, swirl, and savor a variety of wine from 75 wineries complemented by tasty hors d’oeuvres and desserts from famed local restaurants, farm-to-table caterers, and other top shelf food purveyors.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

They’ll also be celebrating the museum’s 100th birthday with, what else … bubbles! As a commemorative presentation this year, Santa Barbara Wine Festival features Sparkling Way; a special area dedicated to sparkling wines and the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to the occasion. Also, new to the event this year is the VIP Redwood Lounge, where VIP ticket holders can enter the festival one hour early and enjoy a private tasting before everyone else arrives.

Winemakers Paul Lato and Morgan Clendenen will be in the VIP Lounge from 1-2 p.m. to pour their world class wines, along with savory bites from Chef Pete Clements. The lounge will also offer access to intimate seating, delectable treats, late , and complimentary chair massages throughout the festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The Cork Pull raffle is always one of my favorite things at this festival. For $30 to pull a cork, participants are guaranteed to win a prize worth at least $30, many of which are terrific wines and other prizes valued at $50 and above. Plus, all proceeds benefit the museum’s exhibits and education programs.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Participating wineries include: Alexander & WayneAlma RosaAndrew Murray VineyardsArthur EarlAu Bon ClimatBabcock WineryBeckmen VineyardsBedford WineryBlair Fox Cellars, Brander VineyardBrewer-Clifton ButtonwoodByronCambriaCargasacchi/Pt ConceptionCarr Vineyards and WineryCasa DumetzCebadaCinque StelleCOREConsilienceCrawford Family Wines, Daniel Gehrs WinesDierberg/Star LaneDe Paola VineyardEpiphany CellarsFalcone VineyardsFeliz NocheFess Parker Winery & VineyardFiddlehead CellarsFlying Goat CellarsFoxenGainey VineyardGrassini Family VineyardsGypsy Canyon, Jaffurs Wine Cellars  and Jamie Slone Wines.

Also pouring are:KalyraKen Brown WinesKenneth Volk VineyardsKita WinesKoehler WineryKuninLaFondLarner Wines and General StoreLongoriaLoring Wine CompanyLumenMargerum Wine CompanyMelvilleMosby Winery & VineyardMunicipal WinemakersOreanaPalminaPotekQupéRancho Sisquoc WineryRefugio RanchSanta Barbara WinerySilver WinesSunstone WineryTablas CreekTatomerTercero WinesToucan WinesTranscendence WinesWhitcraft WineryWilliam James and Zaca Mesa.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

In addition, participating food vendors are: BarbarenoBenchmark eatery, Brophy Bros., Ca DarioCountry CateringCoffee Bean and Tea LeafDuoFarmer BoyFinch & ForkFreezerMonkeyIl FustinoIndustrial EatsJessica Foster ConfectionsMichael’s CateringMr. E’s FreezeMulberry LoveNectar Eatery and LoungePacific Pickle WorksThe Stonehouse at San Ysidro RanchVia MaestraVillage Modern Foods and Patxi’s Pizza.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the Santa Barbara Wine Festival, please visit http://www.sbnature.org/winefestival.

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

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.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 17, 2016.