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: Wine & Fire Weekend

Wine & Fire Weekend, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Wine & Fire Weekend, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance hosts the annual Wine & Fire Weekend Aug. 18-20. In addition to special events and tastings throughout the weekend at member wineries, there is also a Barn Party at Dierberg Star Lane on Friday Aug. 18, where member wineries will share their library stashes, large format bottles and small production wines to get you warmed up for the weekend.

Participating Wineries include: Babcock Winery, Bratcher Winery, Brewer-Clifton, Byron Winery, Crawford Family Wines, Dierberg, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley Estates, Hilliard Bruce, Hitching Post Wines, Ken Brown, La Voix Winery, LaMontagne, Loring Wine Company, Lutum Wines, Montemar, Peake Ranch, Sanford Winery & Vineyards, Seagrape Wine Company and Spear. Plus, antipasti and wood fired pizzas by Bello Forno, a cheese buffet presented by Central Coast Specialties and great music by the T-Bone Ramblers will set the pace for a weekend of wining and dining.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Next up on Saturday morning is a Focused Tasting and Lunch Featuring the Vineyards of Santa Rosa Road. The morning will begin with a Sparkling Reception, followed by a “virtual” tour as you travel through the mile markers of Santa Rosa Road. The event takes place at El Jabali Vineyard and Matt Kettmann, from Wine Enthusiast, will act as tour guide.

Vineyards and producers representing: Bentrock – Bratcher, Babcock, El Jabali – Alma Rosa, Fe Ciega – Longoria / Fiddlestix Vineyard – Dragonette, Fiddlehead, Hitching Post / La Rinconada – Sanford / Lafond Vineyards – Lafond, Sweetzer Cellars / Peake Ranch – Peake Ranch Wines / Quinta Santa Rosa Vineyard – Prodigal / Radian – Ken Brown, Crawford Family Wines, Montemar / Rancho La Vina – Seagrape, Temperance Cellars, LaMontagne / Rio Vista Vineyard – Thorne, Flying Goat, Montemar, Temperance Cellars / Rita’s Crown Vineyard – Babcock,  Sweetzer Cellars / Sanford and Benedict Vineyard – Hitching Post, Sanford and Ken Brown.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Wine & Fire Weekend, photo by Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding, courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

After the tour is lunch and a sampling of Rose wines produced by the members.

Finally, on Sunday, Aug. 19 is the Grand Tasting, where more than 40 wineries and sizzling local chefs and farmers will be on hand for an evening of chilling and grilling at the beautiful, historic La Purisima Mission, located on the edge of the AVA. Babe Farms, Campbell Farms, Central Coast Specialty Foods, Homegrown Cowboy, The Hitching Post II, Los Amigos BBQ, Tollhouse BBQ, Scratch Kitchen, The Ballard Inn and the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers will be serving up an amazing selection of local food favorites!

Participating Wineries: Alma Rosa, Ave, Babcock, Bratcher Winery, Brewer-Clifton, Byron Winery, Buscador, Clos Pepe Estate, Crawford Family Wines, Dragonette, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley Estates, Hilliard Bruce, Hitching Post Wines, Ken Brown, Kessler-Haak Wines, Kitá Wines, La Voix Winery, Lafond Winery, LaMontagne, Liquid Farm, Longoria, Loring Wine Company, Lutum Wines, Montemar, Moretti Wines, Pali Wine Company, Peake Ranch, Sanford Winery & Vineyards, Seagrape Wine Company, Spear, Sweetzer Cellars, Temperance Cellars, Thorn – The Prisoner Wine Company, Transcendence and Zotovich Vineyards & Winery.

For more information, visit staritahills.com/wine-fire.

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 August 18, 2017.

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.