Cocktail Corner: Experiencing the Vineyard at Zaca Mesa

A drone view of Zaca Mesa Vineyard, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

A drone view of Zaca Mesa Vineyard, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Venturing into Santa Barbara County wine country is always a treat, but if you want something extra special, the Vineyard Experience at Zaca Mesa is a must-see. My husband and I recently took the tour and had such a lovely day. 

First of all, the sustainable estate winery and vineyard is gorgeous, with sweeping views as far as the eye can see. In his air-conditioned vehicle, Garrett Black, who is the company’s Brand Ambassador | Special Events, as well as a Certified Sommelier, CMS, took us through the history of the renowned 750-acre property, which was planted in 1973 and only the third winery in Santa Barbara County at that time.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

As an added and very clever part of the tour, as we stopped at various points in the vineyard and tasted wines among the very vines that they came from. Believe me when I say that Zaca Mesa’s famous Black Bear Block Syrah—the oldest Syrah block in the Central Coast—is even more delicious when you’re sipping among the vines! 

Zaca Mesa served as the training ground for many great winemakers. Ken Brown was Zaca Mesa’s first winemaker (he later started Byron in Santa Maria Valley). Adam Tolmach, Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist worked at Zaca Mesa before venturing out on their own to start Ojai Vineyard, Au Bon Climat and Qupé, respectively. The current team produces excellent Syrah, Viognier, and other Rhône varieties and includes Director of Vineyard and Winery Operations Eric Mohseni and Winemaker Kristin Bryden.

Zaca Mesa Winemaker Kristin Bryden, courtesy photo.

Zaca Mesa Winemaker Kristin Bryden, courtesy photo.

Our experience (2+ hours) included an in-depth tour of the vineyard and production facility, personalized tours of the crush pad, tank rooms and barrel rooms, and a delicious wine country picnic lunch (ours was delicious and from Industrial Eats) with a guided tasting of current releases.

It was so much fun. The Vineyard Experience is $100 per person, and is available only to groups of 4-13 people. If that’s not quite in your budget, or time constraints, Zaca Mesa also offers a Winery Tour & Tasting, where guests can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the winery and production facility in an hour-long experience that spotlights Zaca Mesa’s history and the winery’s annual journey from vine to bottle. The Winery Tour & Tasting is $30 per person and includes a sampling of current releases.  

Some snippets from our tour of Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard, photos by Zak Klobucher.

Some snippets from our tour of Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard, photos by Zak Klobucher.

Both tours are available by reservation. Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard is located at 6905 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos, 805/688-9339. For more information about tastings and tours click here.

Cheers!  Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

Zaca Mesa Vineyard, photo by George Rose, courtesy Zaca Mesa.

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 May 25, 2018.

Local Dish: Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week returns Jan. 21-27 to showcase wine country restaurants at once-a-year prices.  Back for the eighth consecutive year, Restaurant Week features three-course meals prepared by the Valley’s most creative chefs for just $20.18 Foodies can savor a rare value to celebrate the food and wine pairings that have made this region a gem in California Wine Country.

Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, 26 restaurants—ranging from the region’s emerging establishments to long-time favorites—will participate in Restaurant Week this year. The list includes a Puerto Rican-inspired menu at Industrial Eats in Buellton, which is donating 100% of the proceeds to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

This year’s list of participating restaurants includes:

RESTAURANTS
Ballard

The Ballard Inn & Gathering Table, 2436 Baseline Ave., 800/638-2466

Buellton

 

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, Bottle Branding photo.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, Bottle Branding photo.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, 35 Industrial Way, 805/686-4742

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.,45 Industrial Way, 805/694-2252

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 620 McMurray Rd., 805/697-4777

Hitching Post II, 406 E. Hwy 246, 805/688-0676

Industrial Eats, 181 Industrial Way, 805/688-8807

Los Alamos

Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, 550 Bell St., 805/344-3000

Plenty on Bell, 508 Bell St., 805/344-3020

Valle Fresh, 380 Bell St., 805/865-2282

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

Los Olivos

The Bear and Star, 2860 Grand Ave., 805/6861359

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 2879 Grand Ave., 805/688-7265

The romantic S.Y. Kitchen Firepit at Night , Photo by Rocco Ceselin.

The romantic S.Y. Kitchen Firepit at Night , Photo by Rocco Ceselin.

Santa Ynez

The Lucky Hen Larder, 1095 Meadowvale Rd., 805/691-9448

S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., 805/691-9794

The Vineyard House, 3631 Sagunto St., 805/688-2886

Trattoria Grappolo, 3687 Sagunto St., 805/688-6899

Solvang

Cecco Ristorante, 475 1st St., 805/688-8880

First & Oak, 409 1st St., 805/688-1703

Fresco Valley Café, 442 Atterdag Rd., 805/688-8857

Leonardo’s Ristorante, 632 Alamo Pintado Rd., 805/686-0846

Mad & Vin at The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

Petros Kafe, 487 Atterdag Rd., 805/686-5455

Root 246, 420 Alisal Rd., 805/686-8681

Santa Ynez Café, 606 Alamo Pintado Rd. #1, Solvang, 805/688-3543

Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Dr., 805/688-2337

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie, 1555 Mission Dr., 805/691-9444

The Ridge, 1618 Copenhagen Dr., 805/325-9820

For the latest updates on Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week, including menus and dining hours, visit www.DineSYV.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 20, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History‘s beloved wine festival, and they are commemorating the event with a new name—the Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival—which more accurately reflects the bounty of sips and bites found at this signature fundraiser.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

While the food and the wine have always flowed freely at the festival, this year events manager Meridith Moore has set a goal to have 50 food vendors on the roster this year to accompany the 50 wineries. “My hope is that the name change will help to attract even more of Santa Barbara county’s incredible food vendors and highlight the ones that have been participating all these years,” she says.

As of press time, food vendors include: BarbarenoBenchmarkBob’s Well BreadBrophy Bros.Buena OndaCa’ DarioCoffee Bean and Tea LeafChooket/Your Cake Baker, Corazon CocinaCountry CateringFarmer BoyFinch and Fork RestaurantGelson’s ~ Santa BarbaraHelena Avenue BakeryHippypopIl FustinoIndustrial EatsLa MousseLa SorelleLoquitaMichael’s CateringMr. E’s FreezeMulberry LovePacific Pickle WorksPicoRenaud’s Patissiere and Bakery , Slate Catering CoSolvang BakeryThe Bear and StarThe Berry ManTondi GelatoVia Maestra 42 and Whole Foods Santa Barbara.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

Wineries pouring this year include: Alexander & WayneAlma RosaAndrew Murray VineyardsArea 5.1Arthur Earl WineryAu Bon ClimatBabcock WineryBeckmen VineyardsBedford WineryBlair FoxBrander VineyardBrewer-CliftonButtonwoodByron by NielsonCa Del GrevinoCambriaCarr Vineyards and WineryCasa DumetzCebada, ConsilienceCORECrawford Family WinesDierbergDe PaolaEpiphany CellarsFalcone Family VineyardsFeliz NocheFess Parker Winery & VineyardFiddlehead Cellars,

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

Flying Goat CellarsFoxenGainey VineyardsGrassini Family VineyardsHilliard BruceJaffurs Wine CellarsJamie SloneKalyraKen Brown WinesKenneth Volk VineyardsKoehler WineryKuninLaFond WineryLarner WinesLongoriaLoring Wine CompanyLumenMargerum Wine CompanyMelvilleMosby Winery & VineyardMunicipal WinemakersNotary Public WinesOreanaPalminaPoint ConcepcionPotekPure Order Brewing CompanyQupéRancho Sisquoc WineryRefugio RanchRideauSagebrush Annie’sSanta Barbara WinerySilver WinesSpear WineryStar Lane VineyardSunstone WineryTablas CreekTatomerTercero WinesThird Window BrewingToucan WinesTranscendence WinesVogelzangWhitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa.

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta del Sol) are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Especially when the proceeds go to support the work of the museum. The event takes place on Saturday, June 24.

Guests 21 and older may purchase admission on the Museum’s website (www.sbnature.org/winefestival). This event is always a sellout, so if you want to join in the fun, act quickly or you not get tickets.

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 June 2, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine Festival Gets Better With Age

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara Wine Festival—the first festival of its kind on the Central Coast—returns for the 29th year, hosted by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta Del Sol Rd.) on Saturday, June 25 from 2-5 p.m.

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Guests will sip, swirl, and savor a variety of wine from 75 wineries complemented by tasty hors d’oeuvres and desserts from famed local restaurants, farm-to-table caterers, and other top shelf food purveyors.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

They’ll also be celebrating the museum’s 100th birthday with, what else … bubbles! As a commemorative presentation this year, Santa Barbara Wine Festival features Sparkling Way; a special area dedicated to sparkling wines and the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to the occasion. Also, new to the event this year is the VIP Redwood Lounge, where VIP ticket holders can enter the festival one hour early and enjoy a private tasting before everyone else arrives.

Winemakers Paul Lato and Morgan Clendenen will be in the VIP Lounge from 1-2 p.m. to pour their world class wines, along with savory bites from Chef Pete Clements. The lounge will also offer access to intimate seating, delectable treats, late , and complimentary chair massages throughout the festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The Cork Pull raffle is always one of my favorite things at this festival. For $30 to pull a cork, participants are guaranteed to win a prize worth at least $30, many of which are terrific wines and other prizes valued at $50 and above. Plus, all proceeds benefit the museum’s exhibits and education programs.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Participating wineries include: Alexander & WayneAlma RosaAndrew Murray VineyardsArthur EarlAu Bon ClimatBabcock WineryBeckmen VineyardsBedford WineryBlair Fox Cellars, Brander VineyardBrewer-Clifton ButtonwoodByronCambriaCargasacchi/Pt ConceptionCarr Vineyards and WineryCasa DumetzCebadaCinque StelleCOREConsilienceCrawford Family Wines, Daniel Gehrs WinesDierberg/Star LaneDe Paola VineyardEpiphany CellarsFalcone VineyardsFeliz NocheFess Parker Winery & VineyardFiddlehead CellarsFlying Goat CellarsFoxenGainey VineyardGrassini Family VineyardsGypsy Canyon, Jaffurs Wine Cellars  and Jamie Slone Wines.

Also pouring are:KalyraKen Brown WinesKenneth Volk VineyardsKita WinesKoehler WineryKuninLaFondLarner Wines and General StoreLongoriaLoring Wine CompanyLumenMargerum Wine CompanyMelvilleMosby Winery & VineyardMunicipal WinemakersOreanaPalminaPotekQupéRancho Sisquoc WineryRefugio RanchSanta Barbara WinerySilver WinesSunstone WineryTablas CreekTatomerTercero WinesToucan WinesTranscendence WinesWhitcraft WineryWilliam James and Zaca Mesa.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Festival. The event takes place Jun. 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

In addition, participating food vendors are: BarbarenoBenchmark eatery, Brophy Bros., Ca DarioCountry CateringCoffee Bean and Tea LeafDuoFarmer BoyFinch & ForkFreezerMonkeyIl FustinoIndustrial EatsJessica Foster ConfectionsMichael’s CateringMr. E’s FreezeMulberry LoveNectar Eatery and LoungePacific Pickle WorksThe Stonehouse at San Ysidro RanchVia MaestraVillage Modern Foods and Patxi’s Pizza.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the Santa Barbara Wine Festival, please visit http://www.sbnature.org/winefestival.

Hope to see you there. 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 Magazine on June 17, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Good Wines, Good Causes

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara winemakers are a generous bunch. They constantly get hit up to donate wine to charitable events, and do so with stunning regularity, often pouring the wine themselves, and always with affable smiles on their faces.

A few causes that are particularly near and dear to the wine/food community have their own fundraising events coming up soon, and lucky us, we get to sip and savor and support them in style!

Coming up on May 3 is the 2nd annual Fork & Cork Classic, which brings food and wine aficionados together to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank. Held at the Montecito Country Club, this delicious fundraiser features tastings from an array of select wines and special dishes prepared by over 20 of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants and chefs, including Bella Vista at the Four Seasons, Blue Owl, Ca’DarioEmpty Bowls Noodle Bar, Finch & Fork, Industrial Eats, Jessica Foster Confections, Julienne, Montecito Country Club, Patxi’s, Santa Barbara Yacht Club, Succulent Cafe, The Secret Ingredient, The Pasta Shoppe and Whole Foods.

Participating wineries include Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ampelos Cellars, Beckmen Vineyards, Blair Fox Vineyards, Consilience, Marianella & Tre Anelli, CORE Family Winery and Deep Sea by Conway Family Wines.

Additional wineries include Falcone Family Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Nagy Wines, Pegasus Estate Winery, Scott Cellars, Silver Wines LLC, Turiya Wines, William James Cellars, Whitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Wineyards.

Also pouring are Ascendant Spirits, Caribbean Coffee Company, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Island Brewing Company, Pressed Juicery, The Real McCoy Rum and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

100% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Foodbank’s 300 local nonprofit partners who supply nutritious meals to Santa Barbara County residents. Last year alone, the Foodbank served 140,575 people—over 25% of the local population, including 50,000 children.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://www.forkandcorkclassic.org.

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Also back for the second year at the Bacara Resort & Spa is the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend  April 16—19 . I’ve written about this before but this is a great event for a good cause: The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Child herself created the foundation, and the mission is to honor and further her legacy, which centers on the importance of understanding where food comes from, what makes for good food, and the value of cooking.  It is a grant making, nonprofit which primarily funds research and scholarships for professional culinary training as well as other activities in the fields of gastronomy and the culinary arts.

Among the highlights this year is a special Saturday Night Grand Dinner & Reception with Kurt Russell featuring GoGi Wines, Hudson Bellamy Wines (inspired by actress Kate Hudson), and Ampelos Cellars. Russell will tell the stories behind the wines, their inspiration and their unique qualities driven by how they are grown and blended in the renowned Sta. Rita Hills AVA and there’s also a VIP access-only wine reception with live music followed by a four-course “ranch to table” dinner with his wine pairings.

Also on tap for the event is an educational lunch with Los Angeles power couple and celebrity chefs, Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC & Tavern) and David Lentz, chef/owner of Santa Barbara’s The Hungry Cat; cooking classes with famed chefs and cookbook authors, including Jim DodgeAnne Willan and Virginia Willis; a Neighborhood Tasting & Market that explores Santa Barbara’s top up-and-coming food regions, including Los Alamos, Arts District and the Funk Zone and while lot more.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit BacaraCulinaryWeekend.com.

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on April 10, 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.”