Cocktail Corner: Central Coast Wine Classic Celebrates 31 Years of Delicious Indulgence

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic, which takes place Aug. 10-14.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic, which takes place Aug. 10-14.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Archie McLaren‘s enthusiastic zest for food, wine, art and philanthropy is infectious! The Founder and Chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic and I recently discussed his plans for this year’s impressive event, which takes place Aug. 10-14, and spans the Central Coast from San Simeon through Paso Robles, Shell Beach, Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Buellton to Santa Barbara.

The Central Coast Wine Classic has highlighted Santa Barbara County wines throughout its many renditions, but this is the first time that some of the events will actually take place in Santa Barbara. It’s truly a remarkable opportunity to taste world-class wine and food in our hometown.

Asking McLaren to pick a favorite event was like asking a parent to name his favorite child.  “Everything looks like a highlight, what would you say are some of the highlights?” I wonder.

He laughs, “That is an interesting comment, because I’ve pondered this as well. When I drew the schedule, I began to wonder what in the world I was thinking in what has been described as my overly indulgent realm, because when I look at this, basically what it looks like is all the things I would like to do. And of course, one of the challenges is the fact that when we’re here in Santa Barbara, for example, for the winery dinners on Friday night we’ve got three that are absolutely outstanding.”

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic, which takes place Aug. 10-14.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic, which takes place Aug. 10-14.

Certainly notable in that group (and filling up fast) is a Winemaker Dinner, on Aug. 12, featuring Vintners Fred Brander of The Brander Vineyard and Bob Lindquist of Qupé Wine Cellars in the recently restored Mural Room of the Historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

“That as a destination alone is worth going to, but in the midst of that destination we’re dealing with Brander and Qupé, two of the iconic wineries in Santa Barbara County, and Chef Michael Hutchings, who is not only revered here but also for our dinner at Hearst Castle, he’s been a part of that for decades and he will be part of that again,” says McLaren. “It’s an incredible symbiotic relationship of food and wine. It’s as good as it gets … we’re talking about a venue the construction of which took place in 1929 … the timing is impeccable for us.”

The Hearst Castle Dinner, on Aug. 11, begins with a Champagne Reception featuring Roederer Estate Brut in Magnums, presented by Xavier Barlier, Marketing Director of Maisons Marques & Domaines, followed by five dinner courses, conceived and created by renowned chefs, Christophe Eme and Laurent Quenioux, as well as assisted and presented by the Wine Classic’s Stellar Family of Chefs, including Santa Barbara-area chefs James Sly and Hutchings, matched with fine dinner wines from Heralded Wine Classic Vintners.

Aug. 12  also offers another fabulous Winemaker Dinner locally, featuring Vintners Bion Rice of Sunstone Vineyards & Winery and Artiste Winery and Bryan Babcock of Babcock Vineyards, with fine wines from each, and another fabulous venue: the Channel Cat, the largest luxury sailing catamaran ship in Santa Barbara Harbor.

“Chef Cynthia Miranda is going to be the person who creates the dinner,” says McLaren. “I think that’s going to be an absolutely outstanding dinner as well.”

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic, which takes place Aug. 10-14.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic, which takes place Aug. 10-14.

He continues, “If that weren’t sufficient, the Rare Wine Dinner at the Santa Barbara Club (also on Aug. 12) is beyond description. The wines that are a part of that areas good as they get, and they are rare.” Hosted by McLaren, along with “fellow over-indulgers” Dr. Blake Brown, Don Schliff and John Tilson in the Private Dining Room at the Santa Barbara Club, this very exclusive event includes rare bottles and a meal prepared by Guest Chef Bernat “Bernard” Ibarra and Club Executive Chef Humberto Perez.

The list of incredible food and wine event list goes on and on, barrel tastings, vineyard tours, a dinner at Hearst Castle, education symposiums, the complete list of events can be viewed here. But that’s not all. There’s also important philanthropic component to this event, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction, which takes place on Aug. 13 at Bella Vista, the extraordinary Pat Nesbitt Polo Estate, in Summerland.

Since its founding in 2004, the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation has conferred grants exceeding $2,500,000 to 125 San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County 501(c)3 nonprofits whose missions are in the Healing, Performing and Studio Arts. For 2016, the Studio Arts Beneficiaries will be the Hearst Preservation Foundation and the Friends of Hearst Castle Foundation that sustains the irreplaceable, historic Hearst Castle artifacts. The Performing Arts Beneficiary will be the newly established Léni Fé Bland Performing Arts Fund, founded by 2016 Wine Classic Patron Honoree Sara Miller McCune of Montecito. The Wine Classic Board of Directors will announce the Healing Arts Beneficiary soon.

Tickets are now on sale for all of these extraordinary events and experiences. I really hope to see some of 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 Magazine on June 24, 2016.

 

Cocktail Corner: Summer Sips by the Sea

Rosé Solstice is coming at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara on June 10. Courtesy photo.

Rosé Solstice is coming at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara on June 10. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Situated perfectly overlooking Butterfly Beach and the sparkling Pacific Ocean, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is always a fabulous place to meet for drinks, but this summer will offer some extra special sipping opportunities. 

Coming up next in the 2016 Summer Tasting Series is a celebration of Rosé Solstice on June 10. Rosé Day (how did I not know about this?!?) is apparently celebrated on this day in wine tasting regions, and the resort will celebrate with a variety of wines from France and California. Get ready to drink pink! The tasting runs from 6-9 p.m. in the Palmera Garden, where attendees also will enjoy French appetizers paired to match the wines.

Beers from Telegraph Brewing Company will be among those spotlighted on Jul. 22 at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

Beers from Telegraph Brewing Company will be among those spotlighted on Jul. 22 at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

In July the resort showcases Santa Barbara County microbrews, with a special beer tasting event located on the ocean front La Pacifica Terrace from 6-9 p.m. on July 22. Beers from Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Telegraph Brewery, Island Brewing Company and Rincon Brewery will offer tastings alongside treats, as part of an Independence-themed celebration called “Red, White and Brew.”

In August, Sunstone Vineyard takes center stage at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

In August, Sunstone Vineyard takes center stage at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Courtesy photo.

In August, Bella Vista Restaurant hosts an exceptional wine dinner at sunset, featuring food designed to pair with the exceptional wines of the Santa Ynez Valley’s Sunstone Winery.  Held from 6-9 p.m. on August 26, winemaker Bion Rice will be on hand to share his favorite varietals.

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara hosts a tribute to Santa Ynez Valley wines in September. Courtesy photo.

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara hosts a tribute to Santa Ynez Valley wines in September. Courtesy photo.

The series concludes in September with a tribute to the harvest season in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Rare local wines will be offered for tastings on September 23 in a beautiful resort venue to celebrate one of the world’s finest wine-growing regions.

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is located at 1260 Channel Dr. For reservations, please call 805/565-8232.

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 Magazine on May 20, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Eros from Sunstone

Sunstone Eros and Chocolate pairing (courtesy photo)

Sunstone Eros and Chocolate pairing (courtesy photo)

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

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Sunstone  Vineyards & Winery is uncorking its newest EROS 2011 Release, a popular blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

According to  winemaker Bion Rice, “Eros 2011 may be the best ever.” They are collaborating with local French chocolatier, Chocolates du Calibressan, and adding a lovely new pairing to the line-up: macarons by French creator, Claire Becker of Duverger Macarons.

This weekend’s annual EROS Release (at the winery, 125 N. Refugio Rd. in Santa Ynez) will include three of their EROS signature blends, their Sunstone Port still in barrel, and the best of their current wine selections.

Rice has chosen each wine personally and carefully paired it with chocolates and macarons.

Tastings will be held on Saturday, February 15 from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday, February 16 from noon to 4 p.m. Click here to make reservations online.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on February 14, 2014.

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.”