Local Lowdown: Hitching Post Wines Saddles Up to First Tasting Room

Located right next door to the famed Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton (which was so memorably immortalized in the movie Sideways), Hitching Post Wines recently opened its first-ever tasting room, after almost 40 years of winemaking. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Located right next door to the famed Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton (which was so memorably immortalized in the movie Sideways), Hitching Post Wines recently opened its first-ever tasting room, after almost 40 years of winemaking. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

By Leslie Dinaberg

You know the saying, “location, location, location?” Well, sometimes it takes a while for the right one to become available—but in the case of Hitching Post Wines’ long-awaited tasting room, it was well worth the wait!

Located right next door to the famed Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton  (which was so memorably immortalized in the movie Sideways), Hitching Post Wines recently opened its first-ever tasting room, after almost 40 years of winemaking.

The spacious, nearly 12-acre property, formerly occupied by Loring Wine Company, belongs to Frank and Jami Ostini and Gray and Charlotte Hartley. The new tasting room is housed in a mid-century farmhouse with trailing walkways and outdoor seating areas with a view of the Santa Ynez Mountain landscape—including the Ostrich Farm next door. Throughout the property are walkways and casual picnic areas that invite guests to linger over a bottle of wine while taking in the dramatic landscape. Dogs are welcome, too. Longtime friends, Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini have been making wines in Santa Barbara County since 1979. With Pinot Noir as their primary focus, the winery produces about 17,000 cases a year.

The other beauty of this location is easy access to Hitching Post 2’s Santa Maria Style BBQ food pairings. Coming soon will be an expanded lunch menu served from a refurbished 1970s Vintage Airstream trailer.

Hitching Post Wines, 420 E. Hwy. 246, Buellton, 805/688-0676, hitchingpost2.com.

Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks Jan. 27-Feb. 10

Root 246's Creekstone Ranch Burger is one of the specials on the menu at Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Root 246’s Creekstone Ranch Burger is one of the specials on the menu at Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

The Santa Ynez Valley has so many great restaurants, and the upcoming annual foodie celebration is the perfect time to check out a new one or revisit and old favorite.

Part of Visit California’s California Restaurant Month, this year’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks feature three-course meal deals—all $20.19—at a record 32 restaurants in the six Santa Ynez Valley towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang.

Why is it two weeks long?

“We continually heard from local restaurants and from diners that the only way to improve Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is to offer more of it,” says Shelby Sim, President/CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The event has been successful from year one, expanding well beyond what can be fit into just one week. It is exciting to continue to see it grow.”

Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, 32 restaurants will participate in Restaurant Weeks in 2019. In addition to the offerings of the Valley’s restaurants, many Santa Ynez Valley wineries will offer wine and small bite pairings in their tasting rooms for $20.19. And special lodging deals are available at hotels throughout the Valley.

“Santa Ynez Valley’s food scene is rapidly evolving in terms of both quality and quantity; it’s even challenging the region’s reputation for world-class wines. Our restaurants these days—rule,” says Sim. 

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus shine with farm-fresh examples of wine country’s seasonal bounty, with tasting menus crafted by celebrated chefs. Exemplary, and locavore, Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks dishes include S.Y. Kitchen executive chef Luca Crestanelli’s “Bird’s Nest Lasagna” (with fontina cheese, roasted butternut squash, chanterelle mushrooms), his “Fried Sous Vide Organic Egg” (with cheese fondue and chicory), and his “Saffron Gnocchetti (with butter and sage, optional bone marrow, raspadura cheese). At The Bear and Star in Los Olivos, chef/partner John Cox’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menus include the likes of his “Wagyu Empanada” (with black beans and Cotija cheese), utilizing proteins pulled from nearby Fess Parker Ranch.

In Solvang, new chef de cuisine at Root 246, Crystal “Chef Pink” DeLongpré, puts her locally- and sustainably-sourced, TV chef touches on an “American Lamb Burger” (Bellwether Farms Jersey ricotta, house-pickled mustard seed, smoky tomato jam, served with fries or Chef Pink’s famous Brussels sprouts), which is destined for the eatery and lounge’s Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks menu.

Norman, courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Norman, courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The food-centric hotspot of Los Alamos will boast chef and restaurant participants like the town’s culinary founders, chef Jesper Johansson of Plenty on Bell and chef Clark Staub at his Full of Life Flatbread enterprise; chef Drew Terp of PICO fame; chef Conrad Gonzales’ Valle Fresh; and Norman restaurant and bar, the dining and drinking component at mid-century motor lodge marvel, Skyview Los Alamos.

At Buellton’s pioneering Santa Ynez Valley food-scape player, Industrial Eats, chef/owners Jeff and Janet Olsson will celebrate the foods of—with 100% of proceeds benefitting—the People of Yemen. Yemeni dishes will comprise the bistro’s Restaurant Weeks menu, with specialties like Shourba Bilsen (lamb broth lentil soup with coriander), Hor’ee (braised beef shank with basmati rice), and Bint Al-Sahn (dough cake with honey).

Dates of participation vary by establishment, but the list of participating restaurants, wineries, and lodging properties includes:

Ballard

The Ballard Inn & Gathering Table, 2436 Baseline Ave., 800/638-2466

Buellton

Campfire Café at Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, 180 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, 805/688-3716

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.,45 Industrial Way, 805/694-2252

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 620 McMurray Rd., 805/697-4777

Hitching Post II, 406 E Hwy 246, 805/688-0676

Industrial Eats, 181 Industrial Way, 805/688-8807

La Tequila Mexican Restaurant, 35 W. Highway 26, 805/697-7776

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, 555 McMurray Road, 805/688-1000

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Los Alamos

Full of Life Flatbread, 225 Bell St., 805/344-4400

Norman, 9150 US Highway 101, 805/344-0080

Pico at The Los Alamos General Store, 458 Bell St., 805/344-1122

Plenty on Bell, 508 Bell St., 805/344-3020

Valle Fresh, 380 Bell St., 805/865-2282

Los Olivos

The Bear & Star, 2860 Grand Ave, 805/686-1359

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 2879 Grand Ave., 805/688-7265

Santa Ynez

The Lucky Hen Larder, 1095 Meadowvale Rd., 805/691-9448

S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., 805/691-9794

Trattoria Grappolo, 3687 Sagunto St., 805/688-6899

Willows Restaurant & Bar, 3400 E. Highway 246, 805/686-0855

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is taking place Jan 27 to Feb 10. Courtesy photo.

Solvang

Cecco Ristorante, 475 1st St., 805/688-8880

First & Oak, 409 1st St., 805/688-1703

Fresco Valley Café, 442 Atterdag Rd., 805/688-8857

Hill Haven Provisions, 448 Atterdag Rd., 805/691-9025

Hummingbird Restaurant, 453 Atterdag Rd., 805/403-7100

Leonardo’s Ristorante, 632 Alamo Pintado Rd., 805/686-0846

Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant & Take Out, 1992 Old Mission Dr., 805/693-2994

Mad & Vin at The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

River Grill at The Alisal, 150 Alisal Rd., 805/688-7784

Root 246, 420 Alisal Rd., 805/686-8681

Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Dr., 805/688-2337

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie, 1555 Mission Dr., 805/691-9444

Toscana Pizzeria, 485 Alisal Road #163, 805/697-7445

Alma Rosa’s eco-chic tasting room in Buellton, built by Allen Construction, incorporates a 15-foot olive tree, local river stone and recycled Douglas Fir. Photo by Patrick Price.

Alma Rosa’s eco-chic tasting room in Buellton, built by Allen Construction, incorporates a 15-foot olive tree, local river stone and recycled Douglas Fir. Photo by Patrick Price.

Wineries

Alma Rosa Winery, 181-C Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-9395

Hitching Post Wines, 420 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-0676

Kalyra Winery, 343 N Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/693-8864

Loring Wine Company, 201-B Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/691-1300

Pence Vineyards & Winery, 1909 W. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/735-7000

Roblar Winery & Vineyards, 3010 Roblar Ave., Santa Ynez, 805/686-2603

Sunstone Winery, 125 N. Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, 805/688-9463

 

Lodging

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, 180 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, 805/688-3716

Hampton Inn & Suites Buellton/Santa Ynez Valley, 600 McMurray Rd., Buellton, 805/686-1555

King Frederik Inn, 1617 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, 805/688-5515

The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

New Haven Inn, 271 Alisal Rd., Solvang, 805/618-8541

Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn, 51 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 800/732-7687

Santa Ynez Inn, 3627 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-5588

Sideways Inn, 114 E. Highway 246, Buellton, 805/688-8448

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week menus do not include tax, tip, or beverages, and reservations are strongly encouraged. For the latest updates, including menus and dining hours, visit www.DineSYV.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 24, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Saddle Up to Hitching Post Wines

Top Row: Hitching Post Wines Exterior, Hitching Post Wines Interior. Middle: Frank Ostini and Olive deliver lunch; l-r Frank Ostini, Jami Ostini, Charlotte Hartley and Gray Hartley. Bottom: Hitching Post Wines Interior, the Hitching Post Burger and Triple Fried Fries. Photos by Rob Stark, courtesy Hitching Post Wine.

Top Row: Hitching Post Wines Exterior, Hitching Post Wines Interior. Middle: Frank Ostini and Olive deliver lunch; l-r Frank Ostini, Jami Ostini, Charlotte Hartley and Gray Hartley. Bottom: Hitching Post Wines Interior, the Hitching Post Burger and Triple Fried Fries. Photos by Rob Stark, courtesy Hitching Post Wine.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

You know the saying, “location, location, location?” Well, sometimes it takes a while for the right one to become available—but in the case of Hitching Post Wines‘ long-awaited tasting room, it was well worth the wait!  

Located right next door to the famed Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton (which was so memorably immortalized in the movie Sideways), Hitching Post Wines just opened their first-ever tasting room, after almost 40 years of winemaking. The spacious new nearly 12-acre property, formerly occupied by Loring Wine Company, belongs to Frank and Jami Ostini and Gray and Charlotte Hartley. The new tasting room is housed in a mid-century farmhouse with trailing walkways and outdoor seating areas with a view of the Santa Ynez Mountain landscape—including the Ostrich Farm next door. Throughout the property are walkways and casual picnic areas that invite guests to linger over a bottle of wine while taking in the dramatic landscape. Dogs are welcome too.

Bottles on display at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Bottles on display at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Longtime friends, Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini have been making wines in Santa Barbara County since 1979. Hartley, a former Alaskan salmon fisherman and Ostini, chef and owner of the Hitching Post 2 Restaurant, came together through their love of wine and winemaking. Over the years what was once their backyard hobby has turned into a highly acclaimed winemaking venture, with Pinot Noir as their primary focus. 

Currently, the winery produces about 17,000 cases a year.

Outdoor seating at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Outdoor seating at the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Traditional Tasting at Hitching Post Wines offers a flight of five Hitching Post Wines consisting of Pinks 2017, Hometown Pinot Noir 2016, Cork Dancer Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2015 and Gen Red 2016, priced at $15 per guest.

A Reserve Tasting, priced at $20, includes five wines—Highliner Pinot Noir 2015, Perfect Set Pinot Noir 2015, Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2015, Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2015 and Four Top  2012. The caveat of the Reserve Tasting will be its ever-changing menu featuring rare single-vineyard bottling and special older vintages of Hitching Post.

Hitching Post Wines also offers customized Private Winemaker Tastings with Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini for $60 per guest (by appointment only).

A sign welcomes visitors to the new Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room.

A sign welcomes visitors to the new Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room.

The other beauty of this location is easy access to Hitching Post 2’s Santa Maria Style BBQ food pairings. Classics from the restaurant include HP Burgers, Triple-Fried French Fries, Santa Maria BBQ Artichokes and Grilled Corn Quesadillas. Coming soon, the public will experience an expanded lunch menu served from a refurbished 1970s Vintage Airstream trailer, relocated from Seaside, Florida, and converted into a first-class Santa Maria BBQ kitchen on wheels.

In the coming months, look for the phase two restoration of the rear building into a public wine bar with an enclosed patio overlooking the river with mountain views and a natural stage, ideal for live performances. The classic Airstream trailer and Hitching Post Santa Maria grills will offer a broader menu, cooked onsite surrounding by casual seating. Also planned is a phase three restoration and remodel of the original barn that oversees the Santa Ynez Mountains specifically for private Hitching Post events.

Inside the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Inside the Hitching Post Wine Tasting Room, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Hitching Post Wines is open Sunday – Thursday from  11 a.m. – 5  p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.  Food service from The Hitching Post 2 is available from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. daily, with limited cheese and charcuterie available for purchase in the tasting room. Hitching Post Wines is located at 420 E. Hwy. 246, Buellton. 

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 believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 31, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Olé Rosé

Rose Wine, photo by Ulrika, Flickr.com.

Rose Wine, photo by Ulrika, Flickr.com.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Our recent summer heat wave is a perfect time to sip rosé, but honestly,  this easy-to-pair-with-almost-any-food, warm weather go-to wine has become a year-round favorite for me—and I know I’m not alone.

According to the buyers at Whole Foods, “Rosés are on fire, making up nearly 40% of all wine purchases, and rightfully so—they’ve thrown off their ‘sweet and simple’ shackles and are unabashedly delicious.”

Among the many excellent rosés I’ve had the pleasure of tasting recently, one of the highlights was Brick Barn Wine Estate‘s 2016 Grenache Rosé. Inspired by the classic dry rosés of the Rhône Valley, this lovely wine was a 2018 Silver Winner in the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition. For the best experience, visit their recently opened estate vineyard, located on a historic 1,100-acre ranch in Buellton (795 W. Hwy. 246), a stunning spot to savor both the wine and the views.

Brick Barn Wine Estate Winery, photo by Bottle Branding, courtesy Brick Barn.

Brick Barn Wine Estate Winery, photo by Bottle Branding, courtesy Brick Barn.

Another local favorite is Margerum Santa Barbara County 2017 Riviera Rosé, crafted from Grenache and Syrah grapes sourced from select vineyards including Estelle and Camp 4 vineyards in Santa Barbara County and Alamo Creek Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County. Dry and refreshing, this is a consistent go-to wine for me.

Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir uses grapes from three prominent Central Coast vineyards to create this refreshing Rosé, which offers up enticing aromas of berries and melon followed by a crisp, fruity finish.

Herzog Lineage Rosé 2017 blends 12 grape varieties from the Herzog’s family’s Prince Vineyard in California. Their Oxnard-based facility prides itself on keeping Kosher, without any negative impacts on the taste of the wine, which features aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries, papaya, and pomegranate seeds. Winemakers note that this unique rosé should be served very cold, which is my preference in most cases.

Rose Wine, photo by Susanne Nilsson, Flickr.com.

Rose Wine, photo by Susanne Nilsson, Flickr.com.

Psagot Rosé 2017 is another Kosher blend of red grape varietals, in this case they’re harvested from vineyards located in the northern Jerusalem Mountains at a height of 700 meters. With a very clean and fresh flavor, the wine pairs particularly well with Mediterranean cuisine.

Another excellent Kosher rosé is the Tabor Adama Barbera Rosé 2017, which is characterized by red berry and cherry aromas and high acidity. Israeli producer Tabor showcases these attributes in a flavorful, light-bodied wine with a nice balance between the fruity notes and the acidity.

The 2017 BY.OTT Cotes de Provence Rosé is an elegant yet friendly French bottle with a pale,  pretty color and a delicate and fruity nose and taste that’s perfect for toasting a happy couple at a price point that won’t break the bank.

Sparkling rosés are also terrific for toasts, and have become quite popular of late. Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore DOCG is a perfect choice for your next summer party. The fruity flavor and aromas of peaches and flowers pair well with seafood, cheese appetizers and dessert. And bubbles always add a festive touch. 

There are two main ways to produce rosé wine, and in both cases they’re made from grapes with dark skin,” explains Gabriel Geller, Vice President of Public Relations for The Royal Wine Corp. The first method is known as maceration. After the red or black grapes are pressed, the skins macerate in the juice for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, until the desired color is released. The second method is called saignée, which is French for “bleeding.” The red or black grape skins are pressed with the skins, producing a slightly pink-colored juice. This juice is fermented into wine that will become a rosé.

Whether you prefer your rosés fruity, slightly sweet, or very dry—they’ll pair beautifully both beachside or poolside. Enjoy!

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 July 13, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Happy Anniversary to Firestone Walker Barrelworks Wild Ales

Courtesy Firestone Walker.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

It’s sure to be a wild party this weekend when Firestone Walker’s Wild Ale Facility in Buellton marks its fifth anniversary with a Feral One” release party on Saturday, March 3.

Time flies when you’re behaving wildly. “It seems like just yesterday that we made this big bet on what had long been a pet project,” says Jeffers Richardson, director of Barrelworks. “In the five years since opening Barrelworks, we’ve really grown into our home and taken our wild ale machinations to an entirely new level.”

The five year milestone is being marked by a party that features the release of Feral One Batch #5. Feral One Batch #1 was Barrelworks’ inaugural bottled beer release. They describe Batch #5 as “an unruly blend of six vintage base beers that were reclaimed from the barrel stacks and artfully combined to create a mouthwatering marvel.”

Courtesy Firestone Walker.

Courtesy Firestone Walker.

Barrelworks was established in 2013 after Firestone Walker’s wild ale program outgrew the main brewery in Paso Robles. It has since become known as a “cathedral of barrels” that produces an acclaimed variety of sour beers and hybrid ales under the watchful eyes of Richardson and Master Blender Jim Crooks.

The festivities take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 at Firestone Walker Barrelworks (620 McMurray Rd., Buellton). Tickets include pre-purchased bottles of Feral One Batch #5; a “pig plate” to build your own tacos or sliders (pig roasted on site); live music by The Ragged Jubilee; tastings of rare wild ales and barrel-aged beers; plus light bites while supplies last and a one-time 25% savings card good for merchandise and beer purchases (with exception of Feral One) that day.

Ticket Options:

  • $75 – includes three (3) bottles of Feral One & food plate
  • $125 – includes six (6) bottles of Feral One & food plate
  • $225 includes – 12 bottles of Feral One & food plate

    Courtesy Firestone Walker.

    Courtesy Firestone Walker.

For more details and to purchase tickets for event, click here. Check out Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine‘s spring 2017 story, “Where the Wild Brews Are,” here.

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 March 2, 2018.

Felipe Molina

Artist Felipe Molina will have his work on view at Standing Sun Wines in Buellton from Sept. 30-Nov. 30. Courtesy photos.

Artist Felipe Molina will have his work on view at Standing Sun Wines in Buellton from Sept. 30-Nov. 30. Courtesy photos.

Wine and art make a great pairing when Standing Sun Wines presents new work by artist Felipe Molina, who was recently inducted into the Album Art Hall of Fame for his Counting Crows album covers. The exhibition opens on September 30 at Standing Sun Wines, 92 Second St., D, Buellton,  and remains on view through November 30. 

For more information, visit www.standingsunwines.com. 

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 29, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Beer and (Big) Bites in Buellton

Executive Chef Brian Champlin and General Manager Jeff Hawxhurst from The Kitchen @ FigMtnBrew, courtesy photo.

Executive Chef Brian Champlin and General Manager Jeff Hawxhurst from The Kitchen @ FigMtnBrew, courtesy photo.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

The kitchen is now open at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (45 Industrial Way, Buellton) and as Executive Chef Brian Champlin vowed, this place definitely has, as he modestly states, “under-promised and over-delivered!”

Boy does Fig Mountain ever deliver, both in terms of high quality food that pairs perfectly with beer and in terms of huge portions at small prices as well.

Named “The Kitchen” at FigMtnBrew, the new restaurant offers a full menu featuring gastropub fare such as creative burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, tacos, salads and more.  Our group particularly loved the “21+ and Over Grilled Cheese” (with three kinds of cheese, avocado, tomato, caramelized onion, apple smoked bacon and Edna’s Bakery sourdough), Davy Brown Nachos and Chorizo Cheese Fries—but honestly, everything that came out of the kitchen was delicious, especially paired with craft beers like Fig Mtn Mosaic, I Dunkeled in my Pants and and Paradise Rd Pilsner.

“We wanted to provide top-notch food with great prices,” says General Manager Jeff Hawxhurst, a longtime local chef who started his career as teenager working at the original Habit in Goleta and most recently worked with the Chumash Casino Resort before coming on board with the ever-growing Fig operation.  “The casual environment helps us keep prices affordable while offering fresh, farm-to-table cuisine,” he says.

Champlin also has impressive foodie credentials, most recently as co-owner and Executive Chef of Succulent Café in Solvang. Taking the farm-to-table concept up a notch,  “Our brewery actually gives our spent grain to a local farm who then feeds it to their cattle. We are then able to serve the local beef on our menu. It’s a sustainable cycle that ensures we know what’s in our food and where it is coming from. We call it ‘brewery-to-farm-to-table’ cuisine,” he says.

Just a few snippets from the menu at The Kitchen at FigMtnBrewCo., photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

Just a few snippets from the menu at The Kitchen at FigMtnBrewCo., photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

In addition to opening the new onsite restaurant, Figueroa Mountain is also in the process of an impressive expansion of its brewing capacity, featuring state-of-the-art production equipment from Germany which will be on view to guests through a large picture window when complete.  Meanwhile The Kitchen is definitely worth the drive!

For more information, visit www.FigMtnBrew.com.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor ofSanta 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 on March 3, 2017 in Santa Barbara Seasons.

Cocktail Corner: Figueroa Mountain Turns Six

figueroa-mountain-brewing-company-anniversary-release-courtesy-photoA Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Cheers to our friends at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, which, in just six short years, has grown from a small production facility and taproom in Buellton to a six-taproom, four-brewery operation with distribution throughout California, Arizona and soon expanding to additional states.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is the fastest growing craft brewery on the Inc. 5000 list, and also recently joined the Pacific Coast Business Times’ 50 Fastest Growing Companies list for California’s Central Coast.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company was founded by in 2010 father and son team, Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer. With a passion for craft beer, they set out to pay homage to the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and hand-drawn artwork depicting the local landscape on their labels.  There are currently six taprooms along the Central Coast of California.

Excited about the future, the fig team is going BIG for its annual celebration, with a 6th Anniversary Party on Saturday, November 26 from 1-9:30 p.m. at the Buellton taproom (45 Industrial Way, Buellton).

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Admission is free and guests can take advantage of the 6th Anniversary bottle release a day before it goes on sale at the other five taprooms and in select local retailers.  Enjoy contests, food for purchase, special mini-events and live music at their flagship brewery and beer garden.

In addition, this year’s special bottle release is Figueroa Mountain’s 6th Anniversary Grand Cru Ale aged in apple-pear brandy, grape brandy and whiskey barrels and sold in 22-ounce bottles.   Special holiday gift-packs will also be available with two 6th Anniversary bottles and a 6th Anniversary t-shirt.

“I’m always excited about our Anniversary beer releases and this year is no exception,” says President Jaime Dietenhofer.  “Despite the 14% ABV (alcohol-by-volume) of this barrel-aged Grand Cru Ale, it has a smooth taste and a complex flavor profile.  We discovered a long list of flavors including notes of marshmallow, vanilla, whiskey, almonds, honey, pears, figs and gentle toasted oak.  It’s one of those beers you reward yourself with or bring to a holiday celebration to share.”

In addition to the food items for sale in the beer garden from Figueroa Mountain’s new Buellton taproom restaurant, there will be several special offerings throughout the day.  Unlimited cask tastings will be sold for $10 per wristband with four cask releases throughout the day.  Wristband holders will also be eligible to win prizes such as a private beer pairing dinner for 10 with Chef Brian Champlin.

Also available for serious beer aficionados is the 6th Anniversary Barrel Tasting & Pairing held in the upstairs mezzanine from 3-5 p.m.

Taster of Figueroa Mountain beers (L-R): Ginger Red, Hurricane Deck Double Indian Pale Ale, Stagecoach Stout, and Irish Stout

Taster of Figueroa Mountain beers (L-R): Ginger Red, Hurricane Deck Double Indian Pale Ale, Stagecoach Stout, and Irish Stout

“Our brewers will walk guests through a flight of four versions of the 6th Anniversary Grand Cru Ale,” explains Head Brewer of Buellton, David Traille.  “We’ll have samples of each barrel followed by the final blend for comparison.”  Each taste will include a small bite of food that pairs with that particular sample.  For $75 per ticket, guests will also receive a 6th Anniversary t-shirt and a 22-ounce bottle to take home with them.

Tickets can be purchased at http://fig6th.nightout.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 November 11, 2016.

 

Cocktail Corner: Figueroa Mountain’s Real Ale Invitational

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Cask beers take the spotlight next weekend when Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. hosts the Real Ale Invitational lunch and festival on Saturday, October 25 from 1–4 p.m. at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s flagship brewery and taproom, 45 Industrial Way, Buellton.

The company’s cask program is run by head brewer of Santa Barbara, Kevin C. Ashford. Each taproom boasts a cask engine for new releases every “Firkin Friday” featuring many of their standard ales. These casks contain high quality ingredients such as hops, spices, coffee, cacao, and even locally grown fruits. Real Ale, or cask beer, is “beer that is unfiltered which undergoes a secondary fermentation and conditioning process. This process naturally carbonates the beer to a softer texture. It is poured directly from the cask—essentially a 10.8 gallon stainless steel barrel—without additional Nitrogen or Carbon Dioxide assistance,” Ashford explains.

At the Real Ale Invitational 20 breweries will be showcase their own styles of real ale. Participants include:

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Ballast Point Brewing Co.

Beachwood Brewing Co.

Belching Beaver Brewing Co.

Bottle Logic Brewing

Central Coast Brewing

Coronado Brewing Company

Eagle Rock Brewery

El Segundo Brewing Co.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Golden Road Brewing

Ironfire Brewing Company

The Libertine Pub

MacLeod Ale Brewing Company

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Courtesy Figueroa Mountain Brew Co.

Monkish Brewing

Noble Ale Works

Pizza Port Brewing Co.

Poseidon Brewing Company

Santa Barbara Brewing Co.

Smog City Brewing Company

Stone Brewing Company

Admission to the event is $40 and includes a souvenir glass, unlimited tastings and live music, plus a portion of the proceeds will benefit Los Padres Forest
Watch.

For those beer lovers that want a more intimate experience paired with food, a limited number of tickets will be sold for a Real Ale Lunch prior to the Invitational from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. There you will meet the cask masters who have perfected the skill of brewing real ale while enjoying a four-course meal prepared by Beto Huizar, executive chef of Beto’s Place, a new restaurant slated to open in Fig Mtn Brew’s Buellton taproom later this year. Tickets to the lunch are $75 and include admission to the Invitational.

For more information about Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s Real Ale Invitational, please visit www.FigMtnBrew.com/RealAle.

Cheers!

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FINAL-FMB_RealAle_Flyer_20Brewers

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 October 17, 2014.

Solvang’s “Scarecrow Fest” and Halloween Fun Start This Week

Scarecrow Fest, Grand Prize Winner, Buellton Valley Pets. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Scarecrow Fest, Grand Prize Winner, Buellton Valley Pets. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The beginning of Solvang’s 5th Annual Scarecrow Fest coincides with the Santa Barbara Wine Country Celebration of Harvest Weekend, then there are numerous fall activities planned in the Santa Ynez Valley/Santa Barbara Wine Country, spread throughout the month.

Running from Oct. 10-Nov. 10, some of the festival highlights include:

-The amazing scarecrow contest, where Solvang businesses, organizations and, as a new facet to this year’s contest, Solvang residents, will participate in the contest by featuring a scarecrow of their own creation, posted at their location. You can vote via ballot boxes scattered about the city, for scarecrow winners in six  different categories: “Best Scarecrow in Motion,” “Best Use of Recycled Materials,” “Best Use of a Business Theme,” “Most Danish,” “Spookiest” and “Most Humorous.” Ballots are available at the Solvang Visitors Center and at select Solvang businesses, and feature maps to direct voters to each of the contest’s scarecrows.

Once a “Best Solvang Scarecrow” winner has been chosen, it will be entered into the Santa Ynez Valley-wide competition with the respective winners from Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos and Santa Ynez, to determine the “Valley’s Best Scarecrow” bragging rights.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best of Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, #1 Judges Choice Winner. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best of Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, #1 Judges Choice Winner. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The October installment of Solvang’s Third Wednesday, to be held on October 15, which will feature a “Fall Frolic Block Party” at the town’s “West End” including live music, free treats, a local business-supporting “Cash Mob” and free admission to the Wildling Art Museum.

The Oct. 15 “Fall Frolic,” Lemos-sponsored doggie costume contest and parade kicks off at 5:45 p.m., with prizes – $20 Lemos gift certificates – being awarded for best costumes in three categories: “Funniest,” “Scariest” and “Most Original.” To enter the costume contest, human handlers should show up in front of Lemos (1511 Mission Dr.) by 5:45 p.m., with their animal counterparts. Along the “parade” route, a handful of Solvang’s West End businesses will be upping the “free” and “food” antes including Wandering Dog Wine Bar, (1539-C Mission Dr.) which will be offering gratis Rosemary Spiced Nuts, as well as free cider and nibbles in front of Kandra’s Beads (1539-A Mission Dr.).

-The 21st Annual Haunted House and Street Fair, which will thrill visitors with food, fun and spirits, on Oct. 30-31. The Haunted House and Street Fair, to be held at the Solvang Festival Theater (420 2nd Street), will include a “Trunk or Treat” candy-palooza among other tasty and spirited delights.

Additional information is available at www.solvangthirdwednesday.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best Use of Recycled Materials, Waste Management, courtesy photo.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best Use of Recycled Materials, Waste Management, courtesy photo.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 8, 2014.