Cocktail Corner: SB County Women Winemakers Dinner

Santa Barbara County Women Winemakers Dinner is March 8.

Santa Barbara County Women Winemakers Dinner is March 8.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8, and I can’t think of a better way to toast the occasion than by attending the second annual Santa Barbara County Women Winemakers Dinner.

Last year’s festivities were, quite simply, amazing, delicious and fun, with a great spirit of collaboration and mutual admiration among the winemakers and chefs taking part.  Because the inaugural event—which was planned, executed and sold out within the space of a few weeks—was so popular, the event’s organizers have expanded this year’s dinner to accommodate more guests and to provide different levels of options for participation and support. 

I can’t wait! 

The charitable event, which runs in its entirety from 5:30-9 p.m. at K’Syrah Catering & Events (478 4th Place, Solvang, www.kscateringandevents.com) will, for the second year, benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County. Tickets to the March 8 event are currently on sale, at womenswinemakerdinner.eventbrite.com.

Last year's Women Winemakers Dinner, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

Last year’s Women Winemakers Dinner, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

More than 20 female winemakers will be joined at the March 8 event by some of the Santa Ynez Valley’s leading culinary ladies, the latter of which are collaborating to create a four-course, sit-down dinner to pair with some of their winemaker colleagues’ wines. In addition to the seated dinner portion of the evening, this year’s event features a tent on a closed-to-traffic street in front of K’Syrah’s downtown Solvang venue. Housed inside the tent is a pre-dinner tasting reception (available as a separate ticket), where more than 20 women winemakers will be on-hand to pour tastes of their wines and talk with event guests from 5:30-7 p.m. The tent festivities also include passed appetizers and a cheese table from local female cheesemonger Janelle McAtamney of Solvang’s Cailloux Cheese Shop.

Participating winemakers and wineries confirmed include: Karen Steinwachs, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard; Sonja Magdevski, Casa Dumetz Wines; Brooke Carhartt, Carhartt Vineyard & Winery; Alison Thomson, Lepiane Wines; Lane Tanner, Lumen Wines; Adrienne St. John, Rideau Vineyard; Gretchen Voelcker, Moon Unit Wines; Jessica Gasca, Story of Soil; Tara Gomez, Kitá Wines; Angela Osborne, A Tribute To Grace; and Kimberly Smith, LaMontagne Winery, with more to be announced  soon.

Chef Brooke Stockwell, Executive Chef at K’Syrah Catering & Events, will be joined in the kitchen by baker Amy Dixon, of The Baker’s Table in Santa Ynez; Theo Stephan, owner of Los Olivos’ Global Gardens; and additional Santa Ynez Valley chefs and food crafters, to be announced as the event nears. 

VIP-level tickets for this year’s event will include both the tasting tent and the seated dinner, where guests will be treated to wine pairings by, and conversation with, an exclusive selection of some of Santa Barbara County’s female winemakers, who will also be announced in the coming weeks. A dessert reception will follow the seated dinner, where guests may continue to mingle with the winemakers.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated worldwide since 1909, with a focus on working women’s achievements and issues. In a working environment that sees about 10% of the global wine industry as female winemakers, Santa Barbara County boasts a much higher percentage of women winemakers than most places in the world, with nearly double the average. The March 8 event will bring together a good portion of the County’s female winemakers in a show of support for each other, and other working women, world-wide; those who toil and labor while honing and elevating their craft in their workplace, while also balancing work-lives with family and community service.

It’s going to be a wonderful evening. Hope to see some of you there! 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 February 9, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Wine Notes

The beautiful home of Westerly Wines, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

The beautiful home of Westerly Wines, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Purely by coincidence, I spent the last two weekends tasting a number of limited production wines—while the number of bottles may be small, their variety is large and their quality is excellent.

Westerly Wines

First up was a lovely tour, barrel sampling and wine tasting at the Santa Ynez estate home of Westerly Wines. What a treat! Winemaker Adam Henkel played host for the private event. He’s a Kentucky-born charmer who came to the vineyard a few years ago, after a decade in Napa Valley making wines for Harlan Estate and Swanson Vineyards.

Westerly Wines Winemaker Adam Henkel with one of the ceramic "eggs" used in the white winemaking process. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Westerly Wines Winemaker Adam Henkel with one of the ceramic “eggs” used in the white winemaking process. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First of all, the estate is beautiful. Based in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, it was once part of a 3,900-acre horse ranch, Westerly Stud Farms, and horses still graze the neighboring estates. Our first wine was a 2013 Westerly Sauvignon Blanc, a bright, fresh and balanced wine that was perfect for a warm, spring afternoon. Then Henkel took us into the barrel room, where we sampled the 2014 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay and the 2013 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, both of which were quite promising. This winery is state-of-the art, with reds fermenting in concrete conical tanks, French Oak and traditional stainless steel, while the whites cold ferment in concrete “eggs,” as well as small French Oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. It’s amazing the number of different winemaking vessels available, and Westerly seems to have them all on hand.

Then it was onto the picturesque dining room, where owner Roger Bower greeted us warmly. At lunch we tasted an excellent Bordeaux varietal, the 2010 Westerly Fletcher’s Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. We also tasted the 2012 Cote Blonde, a blend of 87% Syrah and 13% Viognier co-fermented together to create my new favorite wine. It’s really nicely balanced and full bodied with a wonderful smell of dried apricots of flowers. Trust me, it’s delicious! It was a great introduction to these (new to me) wines. I definitely won’t be a stranger!

The winery is not open to the public, however wine club members are invited to special events and staff will be pouring at a number of upcoming wine festivals, including the 2nd Annual Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend at the Bacara Resort & Spa April 16-17. Click here for details.

The Garagiste Festival

Speaking of festivals, if you want to know what’s new and exciting in the world of wine, the Garagiste Festival is the place to be. Named for the GARAGISTES (gar-uh-zhē-stuh), which comes from a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garages, who refused to follow the “rules” of traditional winemaking, the festival focuses on producers of less than 1,500 cases, which means these are wines you are unlikely to find very easily. The Solvang festival had two days of Grand Tastings, with different wines poured a each one.

One of my favorites was the 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay from Seagrape Cellars, which is a side project for Buttonwood Farm Winemaker Karen Steinwachs (started with her late husband, Dave). Another festival fave (I was focused on whites) was Baehner Fournier Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Vogelzang Vineyard in Happy Canyon.

This is the special rose flight from Wine + Beer, photo courtesy JZPR.

This is the special rose flight from Wine + Beer, photo courtesy JZPR.

Wine + Beer

Rosé was also on the menu this week. As part of its one-year anniversary celebration, Wine + Beer in the Santa Barbara Public Market is offering a special “Drink Pink” rosé tasting series that runs through April 7 features some excellent local winemakers:

Tatomer “Spaatburgunder” Rosé, made of 100% Pinot Noir

Stolpman Vineyards Rosé, Ballard Canyon, made from 100% Grenache

Margerum Wine Company “Riviera” Rosé (97% Grenache, 3% Counoise and Cinsaut)

Dragonette Cellars Rosé, Happy Canyon (70% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre),

Liquid Farm “Vogelzang Vineyard,” Happy Canyon, made from 100% Mourvedre.

Tasting flights are only available through next week, but the wines—so perfect for spring —are all for sale by the bottle in this bustling tasting room. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 3, 2015.

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.”