Cocktail Corner: Experiencing the Vineyard at Zaca Mesa

A drone view of Zaca Mesa Vineyard, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

A drone view of Zaca Mesa Vineyard, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Venturing into Santa Barbara County wine country is always a treat, but if you want something extra special, the Vineyard Experience at Zaca Mesa is a must-see. My husband and I recently took the tour and had such a lovely day. 

First of all, the sustainable estate winery and vineyard is gorgeous, with sweeping views as far as the eye can see. In his air-conditioned vehicle, Garrett Black, who is the company’s Brand Ambassador | Special Events, as well as a Certified Sommelier, CMS, took us through the history of the renowned 750-acre property, which was planted in 1973 and only the third winery in Santa Barbara County at that time.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

As an added and very clever part of the tour, as we stopped at various points in the vineyard and tasted wines among the very vines that they came from. Believe me when I say that Zaca Mesa’s famous Black Bear Block Syrah—the oldest Syrah block in the Central Coast—is even more delicious when you’re sipping among the vines! 

Zaca Mesa served as the training ground for many great winemakers. Ken Brown was Zaca Mesa’s first winemaker (he later started Byron in Santa Maria Valley). Adam Tolmach, Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist worked at Zaca Mesa before venturing out on their own to start Ojai Vineyard, Au Bon Climat and Qupé, respectively. The current team produces excellent Syrah, Viognier, and other Rhône varieties and includes Director of Vineyard and Winery Operations Eric Mohseni and Winemaker Kristin Bryden.

Zaca Mesa Winemaker Kristin Bryden, courtesy photo.

Zaca Mesa Winemaker Kristin Bryden, courtesy photo.

Our experience (2+ hours) included an in-depth tour of the vineyard and production facility, personalized tours of the crush pad, tank rooms and barrel rooms, and a delicious wine country picnic lunch (ours was delicious and from Industrial Eats) with a guided tasting of current releases.

It was so much fun. The Vineyard Experience is $100 per person, and is available only to groups of 4-13 people. If that’s not quite in your budget, or time constraints, Zaca Mesa also offers a Winery Tour & Tasting, where guests can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the winery and production facility in an hour-long experience that spotlights Zaca Mesa’s history and the winery’s annual journey from vine to bottle. The Winery Tour & Tasting is $30 per person and includes a sampling of current releases.  

Some snippets from our tour of Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard, photos by Zak Klobucher.

Some snippets from our tour of Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard, photos by Zak Klobucher.

Both tours are available by reservation. Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard is located at 6905 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos, 805/688-9339. For more information about tastings and tours click here.

Cheers!  Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

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 May 25, 2018.

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.

Cocktail Corner: The California Directory of Fine Wineries

CA Directory of Fine Wineries

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

The newest volume of The California Directory of Fine Wineries: Central Coast Edition (Wine House Press) takes a good thing and improves upon it, which isn’t always that easy to do.

Editor Tom Silberkleit has the tough job of navigating through hundreds of Central Coast wineries and tasting rooms and selecting the very best places to sip and savor throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Then writers K. Reka Badger and Cheryl Crabtree (both frequent Santa Barbara Seasons contributors), joined for this edition by Daniel Mangin, get to write profiles of the top 50 destinations, which each feature lush, full-color photographs by Robert Holmes, along with sidebars listing locations, specialties and nearby attractions.

It’s no surprise that this beautiful, visually-appealing book is featured in most of the top hotel rooms in the county. It would also make a great gift for the wine-loving people in your life.

Carhartt Vineyard tasting room, courtesy California Directory of Fine Wineries Facebook page

Carhartt Vineyard tasting room, courtesy California Directory of Fine Wineries Facebook page

Among the Santa Barbara County wineries that made the cut are Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Beckmen Vineyards, Blair Fox Cellars, Byron, Cambria Estate Winery, Carhartt Vineyard and Carr Vineyards & Winery.

Also featured are Costa de Oro Winery, D’Alfonso-Curran Wines, Demetria Estate Winery, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery, Foley Food & Wine Society and Foxen.

Grassini Family Vineyards, Hitching Post Wines, Loring/Cargasacchi Tasting Room, Pali Wine Co., Sanford Winery & Vineyards, Silver Wines and Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards are also featured in The California Directory of Fine Wineries.

Byron tasting room, courtesy California Directory of Fine Wineries Facebook page

Byron tasting room, courtesy California Directory of Fine Wineries Facebook page

“There’s a lot more activity in the Funk Zone this time around,” says Crabtree, who wrote the majority of Santa Barbara County entries. The update includes the addition of a number of Santa Barbara urban wineries, including Pali, Silver Wines and Blair Fox in the Funk Zone, and Grassini, in the downtown El Paseo Wine Collection. There is also the addition of the Foley Food & Wine Society at the Bacara Resort & Spa, where you can taste from a large portfolio of Foley-owned wineries.

This visual feast of a wine book is available at Chaucer’s Bookstore, 3321 State St., as well as some of the local tasting rooms and wine-related venues.

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 22, 2015.