Cocktail Corner: Garagiste Wine Festival

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

April Fools’ Day is coming soon, and what better way to celebrate the lighter side of life than one of my favorite wine festivals: the 2017 Garagiste Wine Festival: Southern Exposure.

The unique thing about this event is that it showcases micro-production wines made made by garagiste winemakers, commercial artisan winemakers who handcraft under 1,500 cases a year and pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make.
Starting in 2011, the nonprofit Garagiste Festivals have introduced hundreds of outstanding artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media, raising the profiles of many of the winemakers nationally for the first time, and raising thousands of dollars for the education of future winemakers.  The festival benefits the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department.
Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

“Garagistes” (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.
Here’s the schedule for this fun event:

Friday, March 31: “Rare & Reserve” Kick-Off Party: 6:30-9 p.m. with tastings of limited Club Only, Verticals, Library and Pre-Release bottles

Saturday, April 1: Seminars 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“What’s Wrong With This Picture? Educate Your Palate About the Most Common Wine Flaws” moderated by winemaker and festival co-founder Stewart McLennan, is led by Marcy Mallette, Winemaker/Technical Representative for Laffort USA

and

“An Exploration of Grenache: Not Just for Blending Anymore” featuring Zac Wasserman (Frequency Wines), Sonja Magdevski (Casa Dumetz) and Cris Carter (Weatherborne), along with their wines.

Saturday, April 1Grand Tasting 2-5 p.m.

Sunday, April 2: Passport Day, where, for the first time ever, local Santa Ynez Valley wineries will be offering special opportunities for Garagiste Festival attendees. Vineyard tours, winery tours, barrel samples, free and discounted tastings, discounted pricing and club-member-for-a-day benefits are just some of the treats being offered by participating wineries.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Get ready for a comfortable and relaxed tasting experience with personal winemaker interaction, high quality wines, first-time and soon-to-break-out discoveries (*seven winemakers will be pouring for the first time), diverse grape varieties and a renegade and fun-loving spirit on display.

Winemakers scheduled to pour include: Artisan Uprising, Ascension Cellars, Bevela Wines, Bradley Family Wines, Brian Benson Cellars, Camlow Cellars, Carivintas, Carter Paul Wines*, Casa Dumetz Wines, Central Coast Group Project, Cholame Vineyards, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Clos des Amis, Coda Wines, Comartin Cellars*, Cordon Wines, Dascomb Cellars, El Lugar Wines, Frequency Wine Co., Golden Triangle, Iter Wines, Jalopy Wine Company*, Jamie Slone Wines*, JP3 Wines, Kaleidos Winery, Larner Vineyards, Levo Wines, Mallea Wines, Mattina Fiore, McKinney Family Vineyards*, MCV Wines, Metrick Wines*, Mollie Wines, Montemar Winery, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Co, Serrano Wines, Skyenna Wines*, Tercero Wines, Turiya Wines, Weatherborne and West of Temperance. 

Tickets are very limited and Garagiste Festivals always sell out. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit http://garagistefestival.com.

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 March 24, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Smile Sideways to Win, Friendship Center Wine Down, Bien Nacido Winemakers’ Dinner & More

Courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

Courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

The Sideways celebrations continue on this week with a special 10th Anniversary Sign Promotion September 5th – 14th in 100 different locations throughout Santa Barbara County. To celebrate the Oscar-winning film and its impact on the local wine scene, 100 six-foot tall signs featuring Miles and Jack are being placed at locations used in the film and other high-traffic areas around Santa Barbara County.

Fans can pose with the signs and then enter their photos to win the ultimate Santa Barbara Wine Country vacation (or staycation for those who are local). Photos must be tagged with #Sideways10 on Twitter or Instagram, or uploaded manually to Sideways10.com/Enter. Each daily winner takes home a copy of the movie on Blu-rayTM + Digital HD, while one lucky Grand Prize winner receives the ultimate vacation in Santa Barbara Wine Country, including four hotel night stays, wine tasting adventures, delectable dining, and ocean and land excursions.

Pose with these Sideways celebration signs and you could win big! Photo courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

Pose with these Sideways celebration signs and you could win big! Photo courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

Sign locations in Santa Barbara include: Au Bon Climat, AVA Santa Barbara, Conway Deep Sea Tasting Room, Grassini Family Vineyards, Kalyra by the Sea Tasting Room, Kunin Wines, La Cumbre PlazaMargerum Wine CompanyPali Wine Co., Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara Public Market, Silver Wines and Wine Cask.

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Solvang is calling all wine aficionados to participate in the Merlot Taste-Off event on September 13 as a tribute to the movie Sideways.

The event pays homage to the wine variety made famous in the Oscar-winning film, when Miles famously says, “If anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any (expletive) merlot!” Tracy Farhad, executive director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, has a rebuttal. “No more denigrating merlot! Come taste these marvelous wines for yourself.”  Participating wineries include Baehner FournierButtonwoodCarivintasCoreDascombHappy Canyon VineyardJ. LudlowLions PeakLucas & LewellenPoint ConcepcionSagebrush AnniesSevtap and Sunstone.

The event is a benefit for the nonprofit Solvang Festival Theatre (420 Second St., Solvang), which is also, conveniently, where it takes place. For information and tickets call 805/688-6144 or visit SolvangUSA.com.

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Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café (2879 Grand Ave., Los Olivos) hosts its first-ever “Rock Steady” Bien Nacido Winemakers’ Dinner on September 18  at 6 p.m. Three of Santa Barbara County’s winemaking elite—Jim Clendenen of Au Bon ClimatBob Lindquist of Qupe and Trey Fletcher of Bien Nacido Estate—will be pouring their specially paired Bien Nacido vineyard-designate wines with a six-course meal created by Café Chef Chris Joslyn.

For reservations call 805/688-7265 ext. 203 or click here.

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Friendship Center, the south coast’s only nonprofit, fully licensed adult day services program, will have its 5th Annual Wine Down, Friday, September 19 from 4-7 p.m. This casual yet festive event features local vintners pouring their wines for tasting, delicious Asian-inspired hors d’oeuvres by Spices N Rice and live music by Montecito Jazz Project Held al fresco in the courtyard of the lovely center in Montecito, this Friday after-work gathering will give guests a chance to enjoy a lovely late-summer evening and “wine down“ from the cares of the week. A small silent auction will offer carefully selected gift baskets featuring high-quality wine and wine-related items.

Participating wineries include: Andrew Murray VineyardsButtonwood Farm Winery & VineyardConsilience & Tre AnelliCottonwood Canyon WineryDemetriaFess Parker Winery & VineyardPali Wine Co.PalminaSanta Barbara WineryTower 15 Winery, and Vinemark Cellars. Beer from Surf Brewery will also be featured.

The Friendship Center is located at 89 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito. To purchase tickets click here.

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Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar (1539-C Mission Dr.) has the first “Friday Night Wines” class of the season on Friday, September 5 at 6 p.m. In the September class, guests will learn about the history of Santa Barbara as a wine country, and will sample wines from the five distinct AVAs in the County. Reservations may be made directly through Wandering Dog Wine Bar, by calling 805/686-9126 or emailing jody@wanderingdogwinebar.com.

Hope to see you out and about! 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 on September 5, 2014.

Cocktail Corner: Going Sideways

We indulged in a "Pig Pickin' Party" tradition by drinking bourbon  toast in salute to our  dinner at the Sideways 10th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner. Photo by  Krista Kennell.

We indulged in a “Pig Pickin’ Party” tradition by drinking bourbon toast in salute to our
dinner at the Sideways 10th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner. Photo by Krista Kennell.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

It’s been 10 years since Miles and Jack’s wine-soaked romp  through the vineyards of Santa Barbara wine country, and the impact of these memorable Sideways characters—created by by author Rex Pickett and brought to life by director Alexander Payne and a top-notch cast and crew—is still being celebrated throughout the region. This Academy Award-winning movie introduced the world to the incredible Pinot Noirs of Santa Barbara, and has forever changed the wine world’s perception of the bounty that Santa Barbara County has to offer.

The 10th anniversary celebrations for the movie Sideways kicked off last weekend with a wonderful party at Clenenden Ranch. Hosted by restaurateur and winemaker Frank Ostini (The Hitching Post II Restaurant & Winery) and winemaker Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat), this “Pig Pickin’ Party” was quite the shindig, featuring director Payne and movie star Paul Giamatti, an impressive roster of local winemakers, as well as special guests Jim n’ Nick’s BBQ of Birmingham, Alabama.

Enjoying the festivities (L-R), Gray Hartley of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wines; Sideways star Paul Giamatti, Frank Ostini of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wine; Sideways director Alexander Payne, Sideways producer Michael London and Jim Clenenden of Au Bon Climat wines. Photo by Krista Kennell.

Enjoying the festivities (L-R), Gray Hartley of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wines; Sideways star Paul Giamatti, Frank Ostini of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wine; Sideways director Alexander Payne, Sideways producer Michael London and Jim Clenenden of Au Bon Climat wines. Photo by Krista Kennell.

As you might imagine, Ostini and Clendenen served some amazing hand-selected Sideways original era 2004, 2005 and 2006 wines from Au Bon Climat, Hitching Post and Clendenen Family Vineyards—and other vintners also brought along some specially selected bottles to pair with Jim ‘n Nick’s southern-style barbecue feast, which included flying in their own heritage breed pig that was then slow roasted overnight for the party.

In addition to the party at the ranch, which I was fortunate to be able to attend, the following evening the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation continued the festivities by celebrating the Sideways milestone anniversary partnering with Direct Relief  (a 14-year partnership) on the Santa Barbara Wine Auction, a biennial gala event that since 2000 has raised $3 million in support of Direct Relief’s mission to provide medical aid and relief to people facing emergency situations around the globe.

“At this year’s auction, through the generosity of local vintners and Direct Relief supporters, we were able to raise $1 million,” reports Foundation president Jennifer Williamson Doré.  “A significant component of that number was contributed by bidders desiring the chance to come together to celebrate the anniversary of the release of Sideways at a 10 Year reunion dinner, generously donated by Frank Ostini and the Hitching Post II and Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat Winery.” To Jack and Miles we say, “Well done!”

Sideways star Paul Giamatti and  Frank Ostini of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wine skyped with Giamatti's co-star Virginia Madsen at the benefit event for Direct Relief International.  Photo by Krista Kennell.

Sideways star Paul Giamatti and Frank Ostini of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wine skyped with Giamatti’s co-star Virginia Madsen at the benefit event for Direct Relief International. Photo by Krista Kennell.

In addition to the gala Santa Barbara Wine Auction, the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation raises funds annually through silent auctions at both the Vintners Festival and Celebration of Harvest in support of local nonprofit organizations including Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, sponsorship of Vino de Sueños annual event, FoodBank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation Scholarship Program, Annual Scholarships to qualifying high school seniors in northern Santa Barbara County and Annual Scholarships to qualifying students in the Allan Hancock College Enology and Viticulture program.

In what’s sure to be one of many more Sideways celebrations to come, the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau is holding a  Merlot Taste-Off event on September 13 to  pay homage to wine variety made famous in the Oscar-winning film.  As may recall, in the movie the character of Miles has the memorable line: “If anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any (expletive) merlot!”

Tracy Farhad, executive director of the Solvang CVB retorts, “No more denigrating merlot! Come taste these marvelous wines for yourself.”

Participating wineries include Baehner FournierButtonwoodCarivintasCoreDascombHappy Canyon VineyardJ. LudlowLions PeakLucas & LewellenPoint ConcepcionSagebrush AnniesSevtap and Sunstone. Local restaurants will provide gourmet appetizers.

The tasting will take place in the garden courtyard of the Solvang Festival Theatre (420 Second St.), and proceeds will benefit the nonprofit theater. For information and tickets call 805/688-6144 or visit SolvangUSA.com

Stay tuned, there are many more Sideways celebrations to come.

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.”

Jim Clenenden greets guests at his ranch in Los Alamos. Photo by Krista Kennell.

Jim Clenenden greets guests at his ranch in Los Alamos. Photo by Krista Kennell.

 

Winemakers enjoyed a special "Pig Pickin' Party" bourbon  toast in salute to the pig at the Sideways 10th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner. Photo by  Krista Kennell.

Winemakers enjoyed a special “Pig Pickin’ Party” bourbon toast in salute to the pig at the Sideways 10th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner. Photo by Krista Kennell.

Just a peek at the fabulous fixings at the Sideways 10th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner. Photo by Krista Kennell.

Just a peek at the fabulous fixings at the Sideways 10th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner. Photo by Krista Kennell.

 

A view worth turning sideways to see, at Clenenden Ranch in Los Alamos. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A view worth turning sideways to see, at Clenenden Ranch in Los Alamos. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on August 8, 2014.