Cocktail Corner: California Wine Festival, Bacon and Barrels & More!

California Wine Festival, courtesy photo

California Wine Festival, courtesy photo

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

California Wine Festival returns to Santa Barbara this week (July 16-18), bringing the opportunity to sip and savor nearly 250 wines from over 70 wineries and 30 fine dining restaurants and gourmet food purveyors. This festival was recently named one of the 2015 Top Culinary Festivals and Wine Events around the U.S. and the World by Gayot.

The first event is “Old Spanish Nights Wine Tasting,” a celebration of wines, foods and music true to Santa Barbara’s Spanish roots. Taking place at the historic De La Guerra Adobe Courtyard Thursday, July 16, from 6:30-9 p.m., this tasting is a showcase for world-class wines accompanied by a spicy array of appetizers from top local restaurants and colorful Flamenco dancers, accompanied by blazing guitars and hot Latin sounds.

Courtesy California Wine Festival

Courtesy California Wine Festival

Unique to the California Wine Festival this year is a special wine-experience seminar, where 40  lucky guests will enjoy a Cabernet Clinic and Tasting Seminar conducted by winemakers from the Paso Robles Cab Collective and moderated by Matt Kettmann. The event takes place on Friday, July 17, from 5-6 p.m. at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

Immediately following, just down the road at the charming old-world carousel at Chase Palm Park Plaza is the “Sunset Rare & Reserve Wine Tasting” where California’s best winemakers dust off their rare and reserve bottles and let lucky guests sip the good stuff! Some of the wines being poured are impossible to buy and are no longer in distribution. Guests are greeted with champagne, then treated to Napa trophy cabs, rare bottles from Sonoma, old vine wines from the high Sierras and the best from California’s Central Coast and Santa Barbara County. There are also gourmet appetizers from top local chefs, live music and a silent auction of fine wines, exotic super-sized-wine bottles including dozens of magnums, double magnums and special luxury wine trips will raise money for The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. It all takes place on Friday, July 17, from 6:30-9 p.m. and is limited to just 500 ticket holders.

Courtesy California Wine Festival

Courtesy California Wine Festival

The finale of the festivities is the “Beachside Food & Wine Fest” on Saturday, July 18, from 1-4 p.m., when thousands of wine lovers pour into Santa Barbara’s sun-splashed beachside location for a day of sun, sea, wine, food and music. Hundreds of premium California wines are served up along with the best of the regional microbreweries, local top chefs, food purveyors and vendors of all things related to wine. VIP entry at is at noon, and new this year is an expanded  VIP Pavilion sponsored by Santa Barbara Public Market and features public market vendors Belcampo Meat, Green Star Coffee, Foragers Pantry, I’a Fish Market & Cafe, Crazy Good Bread, Empty Bowl Noodle Bar, Flag Stone Pantry, Il Fustino and Rori’s Ice Cream.

Print-at-home tickets are available on the Festival website:

Photo by Jeremy Ball/Bottle Branding

Bacon and Barrels. Photo by Jeremy Ball/Bottle Branding

Also back in town next weekend is Bacon & Barrels, which moves to Buttonwood Farm this year. Named “Top Bacon Festival in the U.S.” by A Luxury Blog, and “Top 5 California Festival” by The Huffington Post, the three-day event is a must-attend for bacon obsessed foodies and those who prefer their drinks from a barrel.

Attendees will savor creative bacon dishes, and libations surrounded by the farm’s bounty of olives, pomegranates, peaches, herbs, and summer vegetables. The event kicks off with a Midsummer Night’s Bacon Dream Dinner at Buttonwood Farm on July 17, where attendees are treated to a four-course all pork dinner paired with Buttonwood Farm Wines.  The Grand Tasting at Buttonwood Farm will take place July 18 and will feature chef and mixologist demonstrations as well as access to tastings featuring leading winemakers, small production distilleries, craft breweries, artisan food purveyors and the sounds of Moonshiner Collective. Purchase tickets or get more information at


Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on July 10, 2015.

Leslie DinabergWhen 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.”

Cocktail Corner: Beer Pairing Dinner at Rodney’s Grill + Seven More Fun Events

Rodney's Grill pairs a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from The Bruery. (courtesy photo)

Rodney’s Grill pairs a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from The Bruery. (courtesy photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara Beer Week is winding down this weekend, but the suds continue to pour around town, including at Rodney’s Grill (at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 800/879-2929), where executive chef Kirk DeLong believes nothing tastes quite like an ice-cold hand crafted beer to quench summertime thirst.

With that in mind, DeLong promises to take beer to a whole new level with the resort’s  first ever Beer Pairing Dinner complementing a four-course tasting menu with hand crafted beers from Orange County’s The Bruery.  The festivities take place July 26 at 7 p.m.

The Bruery CEO Patrick Rue, who founded the company six years ago, will be on hand to give a brief overview about the signature beer pairings. The Bruery is a boutique craft brewery specializing in barrel-aged and experimental ales.  Founded as a small, friend and family run business in 2008, The Bruery takes its unique moniker from Rue’s family surname.

Rodney's Grill, courtesy Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort

Rodney’s Grill, courtesy Fess Parker a Doubletree by Hilton Resort

Chef DeLong will share highlights from his inspired American dishes and the fresh regional produce and ingredients which complement the beers being poured.

The menu, which sounds amazing, includes:

Sea scallop, habanero-red pepper gazpacho, and kiwi-dragon fruit chutney paired with Trade Winds Tripel

Hoisin duck breast, pomegranate risotto, rainbow Swiss chard, and port jus paired with Saison Rue

Sea bass, heirloom tomato, tempura beech mushroom, and saffron-fennel broth paired with Mischief

Hawaiian sweet bread pudding, and Rori’s Artisanal Creamery vanilla bean ice cream, paired with Sucre

This dinner isn’t the first collaboration between the Parker and Bruery brands. “The Fess Parker family have a long time tradition in the wine and hospitality business in Santa Barbara County, and are delighted to be working collaboratively with the family-owned business The Bruery.  The two have worked collaboratively on the release of  ‘Confession,’ a sour- style beer fermented with Riesling grapes that tastes like wine, and is ranked high among beer critics,” says director of sales & business development Beth Olson of The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

Advance reservations for the tasting event are required by calling the resort’s concierge at 805-884-8533 or via open table at The cost of the dinner is $79 per person (plus tax and gratuity) with discounts for The Fess Parker Winery’s Wine Club and The Bruery’s “Hoarders and Reserve Societies” members.


Seeing the World Through Bacon-Flavored Glasses, photo by Tyler Moselle

Seeing the World Through Bacon-Flavored Glasses, photo by Tyler Moselle

Coming up this weekend is the always delicious Santa Barbara French Festival, where great food, wine, mimosas, crepes, delicious pastries,  music, dance (including the awesome Moulin Rouge dancers from the Solstice Parade!) —and, of course, the infamous Poodle Parade, all come to Oak Park July 12 and 13 to celebrate Bastille Day and all the things that make the French cultural history so rich.  11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar.  Admission is free and the Festival is a non-smoking event.  For more information, email or call 805/963-8198.

On Monday night (July 14), raise your glass to Babes, Books & Booze and join funny women/authors Jenna McCarthy, Karen Rizzo and Starshine Roshell as they talk about social media over sharing, ungraceful aging, maternal intensity and their new books in what’s sure to be a lively conversation at Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St.) on Monday, July 14 at 7 p.m. The first glass is on the publishers, but be sure to RSVP to

When you’re in wine country, you can’t pass up the opportunity to taste the best wines around. Luckily, that chance comes easily at the 11th annual California Wine Festival from Thursday, July 17 to Saturday, July 19. Celebrate with gourmet food and live music galore. Raise a glass of red, pink, or white (or all!) to a great weekend by the sea! This always fun festival has multiple events and venues. Call 866/273-4148, or visit complete details.

What goes better than bacon and wine, bourbon and beer? Dare we say, nothing! After an incredibly successful inaugural event last year, Bacon and Barrels is back! From July 18-10, enjoy some of the most delectable bacon dishes from the Central Coast’s best, while mixologists, bacon food trucks, live music, local vendors and a piggy petting zoo make this a weekend you’ll never forget. Saarloos & Sons Field, 2971 Grand Ave., Los Olivos. 805/996-0652,

Fantastic fermented food will be showcased at Cultivate Events‘ 4th annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival on Saturday, July 19. Kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles, beer, sauerkraut, wine, cider, cultured vegetables, and sourdough bread galore will take over Fairview Gardens (598 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta), accompanied with talks with fermented foods experts, hands-on how-to demonstrations, artisan fermented foods samples, and the opportunity for all ages to learn about the importance of local, organic, and sustainable agriculture and the fermentation process. The festival runs from 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. For more information, call 805/722-5324,  or visit, where Santa Barbara Seasons’ readers can get a discount to the festival by putting in the word “SEASONS” in the promo code box when purchasing tickets.

For its fourth year, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden‘s Wine and Cheese Botanic Lecture Series is bringing together the local scientific community for talks about Santa Barbara ecology. The July 19 edition of the Lecture Series features Santa Barbara Creeks‘ Supervisor George Johnson and his update on the Mission Creek Restoration Project from 4 to 6 p.m. Johnson will highlight the importance of Southern California steelhead trout in the state’s waterways, particularly Mission Creek. Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards is the sponsoring winery. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, is located at 1212 Mission Canyon Rd. For more information click here.

Who doesn’t love sangria? The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation sure does. They are hosting the 3rd Annual Sangria Soiree in order to raise money to help families of children with cancer. It is at the Villa at Sunstone Winery at 125 Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez, CA on July 20 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This event is quickly becoming a favorite of Santa Ynez locals, as guests enjoy sampling of paella from Viva Paella and tapas by Paloma Restaurant. Spanish style flatbreads prepared by The Chef’s Touch are served with cheese platters from Ono Catering.These foods appear alongside tequila and sangria made from wines by Sunstone WineryPalmina Wines and D’Alfonso-Curran Wines. Radio personality Tyler Story hosts this beautiful afternoon, and music by the acoustic flamenco guitar is also present. Not  to mention, several fantastic raffle tickets can be purchased, with prizes such as private cooking classes, a helicopter tour and a spa day. For more information call 805/ 962-7466. Or, buy tickets online here.

Whew!  That’s a lot going and I haven’t even gotten to Fiesta yet. Viva la July! Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on July 11, 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.”