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.”