Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

This weekend brings the first Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on Saturday October 7. The festival combines polo, local wine, and music for a unique one-day experience. This unique, full day experience features two polo matches, great music and tastings from some of Santa Barbara’s finest wineries.

While not a requirement, organizers encourage attendees to dress as you would for a typical polo game—like the movie Pretty Woman, when they are at the polo match.

The famous "Pretty Women" polo match scene, courtesy photo.

The famous “Pretty Women” polo match scene, courtesy photo.

Musicial performances by LP, Nick Waterhouse, Durand Jones & the Indications, Vieux Farka Toure and Macy Gray are on the bill. The Festival also features local food and wineries, including local contemporary California cuisine by Barbareno, Empanadas by Buena Onda and Asian-inflected American plates from The Black Sheep. Local wineries  include Happy Canyon Vineyard, Sanford Winery, Standing Sun Wines, Summerland Winery, August Ridge Vineyards and more.

“After attending our first polo match in the summer of 2016, it immediately became clear to us that a combination of polo, wine, and music would create an amazing experience,” organizer Josh Elion says.  “It’s a way of bringing three aspects of a community together and introducing people to the game of polo, new local wineries, or incredible musicians.  … This is truly a celebration of Santa Barbara and Southern California living, held at one of the most gorgeous venues along the west coast.”

Courtesy Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival.

A dollar of every ticket sold will be donated to Notes For Notes, a nonprofit organization that designs, equips, and staffs after-school recording studios inside Boys and Girls Clubs, offering youth the opportunity to explore, create, and record music for free.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sbpoloandwine.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 October 6, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Passport Weekend at the Urban Wine Trail

Urban Wine trail 2015 passport-poster-v3A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Have you been wanting to check out what’s new on Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail? If so, then the upcoming passport weekend (June 5-7) is your perfect opportunity.

The annual festivities feature a Passport to the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail for the weekend, and a Red & White AVA Seminar. TheSanta Barbara Urban Wine Trail Passport will be happening all

Lafond Winery tasting room, photo by Mercedes Lowe

Lafond Winery tasting room is one of 26 wineries featured on the Urban Wine Trail’s special passport event June 5-7, photo by Mercedes Lowe

weekend long—Friday to Sunday—at all of the 26 tasting rooms. The Passport includes special wine tasting opportunities and complimentary tastings, including the chance to meet winemakers, reserve vintage exhibitions, light bites and live musical entertainment. Passport holders will also get a 10% discount on wine purchases at all member tasting rooms that weekend.

Guests  begin their wine tasting adventures by picking up their Passport and signature logo glass at any one of the three check-in points, including Carr Winery, Santa Barbara Winery and Margerum Wine Company.

The tasting  kicks into high gear on Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Wine Cask restaurant with the Red & White AVA Seminar featuring eight of Santa Barbara’s top winemakers. I went last year and this is a MUST ATTEND event for wine lovers who want to learn more about our region.

Guests can sip through and learn about all of the AVA’s in Santa Barbara County.  Each of the eight winemakers will share one of their finest wines that represent the AVA where it was grown. Mitchell Sjerven, owner of the renowned Bouchon restaurant, will moderate the seminar and guide guests through each of these unique and notable wines.

Last year's Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail red and white AVA seminar, photo SB Urban Wine Trail Facebook.

Last year’s Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail red and white AVA seminar, photo SB Urban Wine Trail Facebook.

Presenting winemakers are some of the most respected names in the business: Margerum Wine Company – Doug Margerum; Santa Barbara Winery – Bruce McGuire; Pali Wine Co. – Aaron Walker; Sanford – Steve Fennell; Carr Vineyards & Winery – Ryan Carr; Jaffurs – Craig Jaffurs; Kunin Wines – Seth Kunin; and Riverbench – Rawley Hermreck.

Passport tickets are $75 and AVA seminar tickets are also $75, or you can purchase a VIP All Access ticket for $125, which includes both events.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

Urban Wine Trail member wineries include:  Area 5.1 WineryAu Bon Climat,  Carr Vineyards & Winery, Cebada Vineyard and Winery (inside Isabella Gourmet Foods), Cottonwood CanyonDeep Sea Tasting RoomFox Wine Co., Grassini Family VineyardsHappy Canyon VineyardJaffurs Wine Cellars and Kalyra Winery.

Kunin Wines, Lafond WineryMargerum Wine CompanyMunicipal WinemakersOreana WineryPali Wine Co.Riverbench WinerySanfordSanguisSanta Barbara WinerySilver WinesSummerland Winery, The Valley Project (a.k.a. AVA Santa Barbara) and Whitcraft Winery are also on the trail.

For more information visit, www.urbanwinetrailsb.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 May 29, 2015.

Cocktail Corner: Movie-Inspired Sips and Savories

The Lark is one of many restaurants offering specials to honor the 30th anniversary of SBIFF. Photo courtesy of The Lark.

The Lark is one of many restaurants offering specials to honor the 30th anniversary of SBIFF. Photo courtesy of The Lark.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

It’s easy to get the star treatment during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). As part of a special Film Feast promotion, all sorts of local watering holes and restaurants are offering movie-themed specials during the Film Festival (January 27 – February 7).

Here are a few of my faves:

Get in the mood for a sweep at the Oscars (my prediction) with a Birdman Martini at Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara (1260 Channel Dr.). Made with 10 Cane Rum, Galliano, Gran Gala and lime, I recommend trying this one outside on the patio at sunset. Other specials include an Outstanding Carell Collins and a Cousteau Margarita. All come with an excellent view of Butterfly Beach.

The Lark (131 Anacapa St.) also has a special SBIFF Fizz Cocktail made with Cutler’s Gin, Santa Barbara Blood Oranges and Pimm’s.

Margerum M5

Margerum M5

If you prefer wine to cocktails, one of the newer tasting rooms in the Wine Collection of El Paseo, Jamie Slone Wines (23 E. De La Guerra St.) is doing a salute to As Good as it Gets. They’ve partnered with C’est Cheese (Hello? Wine and cheese pretty much are as good as it gets!) to offer $20 wine and cheese pairings, along with screenings of the Jack Nicholson film daily at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (pairings are available from noon – 6 p.m. daily).

Another great movie—Vino Veritas  (“In Wine, the Truth”) —is screening at Margerum Wine Company Tasting Room (813 Anacapa St.), which is in the Wine Collection of El Paseo as well. Also in that same charming paseo is Happy Canyon Vineyard‘s “A Good Year” Tasting Flight One, featuring a Staffords Chocolate Truffle paired with 2013 Happy Canyon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Happy Canyon Vineyard Barrack Blanc, 2010 Piocho, 2009 Barrack Brand and 2010 Barrack Ten-Goal.

The other Wine Collection of El Paseo tasting rooms—Au Bon Climat and Grassini—also have special film fest deals going on, so feel free to make a double- or triple-feature of it.

Also down the street at Armada Wine & Beer Merchant (1129-A State St.)  is the James Bond Globe Trotter Flight, where you can sample three wines from around the globe, as a tribute to the festival of course!

The food side of the film feast also has some fun options. Here are some highlights:

The Pasta Shoppe, in Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W. Victoria St.) has a special $30 prix fixe menu in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The special Italian-film-themed menu includes “Under the Tuscan Sun” Insalata dell casa with arugula, shaved red onion, teardrop tomatoes and house made grapefruit vinegrette; plus a choice of: “The Big Night” spinach, Ricotta Gnudi, pomodoro, pecorino; “Lady & the Tramp” bucatini with beef and pork bolognese, fresh herbs and parmigano; or “American in Rome” wild mshroom gnocchi, with herbed white wine sauce truffle oil. I tried the gnocchi recently and it was amazing! Don’t miss out on this one.

The Pasta Shoppe's

The Pasta Shoppe’s “American in Rome” wild mushroom gnocchi, with herbed white wine sauce and truffle oil. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Also saluting the festival is “I Am Prawns!” at Crocodile Restaurant and Bar at the Lemon Tree Inn (2819 State St.). This prix fixe menu is inspired by the 2009 Italian film I Am Love. Take 1: Bacon wrapped prawns, paired with Rusack Sauvignon Blanc. Take 2: Filet mignon with portobello mushroom demi glaze, garnished with blue cheese, served with grilled vegetables and truffled mac n’ cheese; paired with Qupe Syrah. Take 3: Triple layer chocolate mousse cake paired with Robert Hall Vintage Port. This is well-priced at $35 per person or $50 per person with wine pairings. Give them a call, as reservations are recommended.

Enjoy the fest and the feast! Cheers!

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Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 30, 2015.

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.”

 

 

 

 

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!

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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: My Happy Dance-worthy List

The gals at Grassini are pouring on Sunday at the annual Wine Collection of El Paseo Labor Day Weekend Block Party, courtesy photo.

The gals at Grassini are pouring on Sunday at the annual Wine Collection of El Paseo Labor Day Weekend Block Party, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

We’ve got a long, Labor Day weekend ahead of us, which is certainly more than enough to make me smile. Here are a few more happy dance-worthy things on my list right now:

1. Taste of the Town

The 33rd annual Santa Barbara Taste of the Town, a wine and culinary event benefiting the Arthritis Foundation on Sunday, Sept. 7 is sure to be a wonderful afternoon of wine tasting and delicious nibbles presented from many of Santa Barbara’s finest restaurants and wineries. For more information and to purchase tickets call Arthritis Foundation at 805/563-4685 visit TasteofTheTownSantaBarbara.org.

2. Labor Day Sunday block party at El Paseo

This Sunday (Aug. 31) from noon to 3 p.m., you can enjoy the once a year Wine Collection of El Paseo Labor Day Weekend Block Party. A $30 fee gets you tastings from Margerum Wine Company, Grassini, Au Bon Climat, Happy Canyon Vineyard and Jamie Slone Wines, as well as a commemorative glass and taco lunch.  813 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara in El Paseo.

3. Oysters and Bubbly

Oysters and sparkling wine make beautiful music together, especially this time of year. We like to pair local oysters from Santa Barbara Fish Market with a sparkling Italian wine like Berlucchi Franciacorta Brut.

4. Barbecue Time

Long weekends are the perfect time to fire up the coals (or gas up the grills). Luckily, I’ve already compiled a wealth of winning wine options to pair with your favorite foods.

5. A Real Happy Dance

Check out Audrey Hepburn in this fun clip from Funny Face.

I hope this makes you want to get out there and (happy) dance like no one’s watching this holiday weekend. Have fun. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 29 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.”

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.