Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

One of the very best wine fests—the 31st Annual Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival—returns to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on Saturday, June 30.

The Museum is a beautiful place to indulge in delicious wines paired with excellent bites along the shaded banks of Mission Creek. And you can feel good about going to this event because all net proceeds from the festival support the Museum’s nature and science education programs. I have fond memories of field trips to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History  back when I was in elementary school, as well as many more recent trips with my son.

It’s definitely a festival with a LOCAL feeling. Perhaps because of that, the Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival is also one of the few events that the winemakers themselves attend and pour their favorite vintages. “This is one of the very best tastings that we attend throughout the year,” says Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa.

“This is the most beautiful tasting, the most beautiful setting that I do anywhere in the country.” says Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat.

Jamie Slone at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Jamie Slone at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

More than 50 Central Coast wineries will be at the festival, including:

Alexander & Wayne

Alma Rosa

Marni Margerum at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Marni Margerum at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Andrew Murray Vineyards 

Area 5.1

Arthur Earl Winery

Au Bon Climat

Babcock Winery

Beckmen Vineyards

Bedford Winery

Blair Fox

Brander Vineyard

Brewer-Clifton

Buttonwood

Cambria

Carr Vineyards and Winery

Casa Dumetz

Cebada

Consilience

CORE

Cutler’s Artisan

D’Alfonso-Curran

De Paola

Domaine de la Cote

Epiphany Cellars

Feliz Noche

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

Tim Snider and Brad Thomas at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Tim Snider and Brad Thomas at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Fiddlehead Cellars

Flying Goat Cellars

Foxen

Gainey Vineyards

Grassini Family Vineyards

Jaffurs Wine Cellars

Jamie Slone

Kalyra

Kaena Wine

Ken Brown Wines

Kenneth Volk Vineyards

Koehler Winery

LaFond Winery

Larner Wines

Fred Brander at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Fred Brander at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Longoria

Lumen

Mail Road Winery

Margerum Wine Company

Melville

Mosby Winery & Vineyard

Municipal Winemakers

Notary Public

Nielson

Oreana

Palmina

Potek

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Qupé

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Rideau

Sagebrush Annie’s

Sandhi Wines

Santa Barbara Winery

Savoy Wines

Silver Wines

Storm Wines

Sunstone Winery

Tablas Creek

Tatomer

Tercero Wines

Transcendence Wines

Whitcraft Winery

Zaca Mesa

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival.

Ian Cutler at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Ian Cutler at Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Also available are sweet and savory delectable delights from more than 40 of Santa Barbara County’s finest eateries and caterers, including:

• Barbareño

• Benchmark

• Black Bow Sweets

• Blue Water Grill

• Bob’s Well Bread

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

• Bottlest Bistro

• Brophy Bros.

• Ca’ Dario

• Corazon Cocina

• Country Catering

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival 2018, courtesy photo.

• Deux Bakery

• Enterprise Fish Company

• Farmer Boy

• Finch and Fork Restaurant

• Gelson’s Market – Santa Barbara

• Helena Avenue Bakery

• Hitching Post

• il Fustino

• Industrial Eats

• Jessica Foster Confections

Les Marchands

Loquita

• Michael’s Catering

• Oat Bakery

• Outpost at Goodland

• Pacific Pickle Works

• Pico

Guests enjoy Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

Guests enjoy Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival, courtesy photo.

• Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro

• Santa Barbara Popcorn Co.

• Savoy Cafe and Deli

• Scarlett Begonia

• Solvang Bakery

• The Bear and Star

The Lark

• Tondi Gelato

• Via Maestra 42

Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival tickets cost $75 for Museum members and $100 for non-members. VIP tickets, including access to the VIP Lounge, early entry at 1 p.m. (the regular festival runs from 2–5 p.m.), six exclusive tastings and food pairings with winemakers, chair massages, and more are $125 for Museum members and $150 for non-members.

Designated drivers are free to enter as long as they accompany a paid guest. Designated drivers can sign up by emailing Sarah at sclement@sbnature2.org and giving the names of their passenger(s).

The Museum is located at 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara. For more information, please visit www.sbnature.org/winefestival.

I hope to see some of 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 believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 3, 2018.

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.

Cocktail Corner: In the Beginning—The Early Years in the Santa Barbara Wine Country

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

“In the Beginning: The Early Years in the Santa Barbara Wine Country” is a bookend event for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s signature Santa Barbara Wine Festival. Courtesy photo.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

The history of Santa Barbara County’s wine industry takes center stage at The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on October 23, with an autumn symposium featuring an all-star panel of Santa Barbara winemakers.

Panelists include Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat), Fred Brander (Brander Vineyards), Ken Brown (Ken Brown Wines), Bob Lindquist (Qupe), Lane Tanner (Lumen Wines) and Rick Longoria (Longoria Wines)—all of whom are pioneers in the industry. The moderator is Antonio Gardella, a local fine wine specialist.

Attendees will first mingle with the winemakers at a tasting from 1-2 p.m., followed by an hour Q&A and finished with two hours of socializing and tastings.

“These six winemakers have a wealth of information that they will share with the intimate group of guests and guests will have a chance to interact with all of them during the tastings,” says Meridith Moore, the museum event manager. Being in the presence of all of these heavy-hitters in such an intimate setting is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone with the slightest interest in the wine industry.

The panelists will have their wine on hand, as well as additional wines from Zaca Mesa, Mosby Winery and Whitcraft. Sweet and savory bites from local food purveyors Village Modern Foods, Pete Clements Catering, Jessica Foster Confections, Pico Restaurant, C’est Cheese and The Shop Café will also be on hand.

“In the Beginning: The Early Years in the Santa Barbara Wine Country” takes place on October 23 from 1-5 p.m. in Fleischmann Auditorium at the Museum of Natural History’s Mission Creek campus (2559 Puesta del Sol). Tickets are $75 for members and $100 for non-members, and are available now at www.sbnature.org/tickets 

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.”

This story was originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 7, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine Festival

"The Magnificent Seven" (left to right) Ken Brown, Bob Lundquist, Richard Sanford, Jim Clendenen, Drake Whitcraft, Doug Margerum, and Fred Brander - a veritable 'who's who' of Central Coast winemakers, will all be at this year's Santa Barbara Wine Festival again – for the 28th year. Photo by Joni Kelly.

“The Magnificent Seven” (left to right) Ken Brown, Bob Lundquist, Richard Sanford, Jim Clendenen, Drake Whitcraft, Doug Margerum, and Fred Brander – a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Central Coast winemakers, will all be at this year’s Santa Barbara Wine Festival again – for the 28th year. Photo by Joni Kelly.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

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? Especially when the proceeds go to support the work of the museum.

Santa Barbara Wine Festival, photo by Bob Dickey

Santa Barbara Wine Festival, photo by Bob Dickey

“Santa Barbara Wine Festival is a wine-focused festival,” says Festival Chair, Meridith Moore. Indeed, more than 50 wineries will be pouring at the museum, including some of our favorites like Santa Barbara Winery, Arthur Earl, Grassini, Kita Wines (Chumash Tribe), Palmina, Alma Rosa, Koehler, Au Bon Climat, Babcock, Sunstone, Fess Parker, Andrew Murray, Margerum, Jamie Slone, Beckmen and Whitcraft, to name just a few.

There are plenty of tasty bites at Santa Barbara Wine Festival as well. “We have a large array of top-shelf food purveyors, many of whom are especially paired with wineries that complement one another,” says Moore. “It is exciting because many of the winemakers and chefs are present and available for the guests to meet and discuss the qualities of their varietals and menu items–just another example of why this has become one of the most beloved wine festivals on the Central Coast and the one to attend.”

Scrumptious samples from local food purveyors will complement the wines poured at the Museum's annual event. Photo by Valentin Mendoza.

Scrumptious samples from local food purveyors will complement the wines poured at the Museum’s annual event. Photo by Valentin Mendoza.

Among the yummy items on the menu are: Braised Short Rib Meatballs (Michael’s Catering); Oyster Shooters (Brophy Bros.); Homemade Tamales (Santa Barbara Tamales To Go); Sage and Butternut Squash Raviolis (Ca Dario); Cheese Tastings from around the World (C’est Cheese); Hand-rolled Truffles (Jessica Foster Confections); and Mini Cupcakes (Coveted Cakery), to name a few.

Santa Barbara Wine Festival takes place at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta de Sol, 805/682-4711, sbnature.org) on Saturday, June 27 from 2-5 p.m.

For more information and to purchase admission for the Santa Barbara Wine Festival, please visit 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 19. 2015.