Cocktail Corner: Brave & Maiden’s New Estate Winery and Tasting Room

Brave & Maiden Estate exterior, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden Estate exterior, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Wow. The breathtaking new Brave & Maiden Estate Winery and Tasting Room is definitely upscale and sophisticated. This is not your grandma’s winery for sure! This beautiful 70-acre estate, with a brand new state-of-the-art facility, brings an exceptional new wine experience to the Santa Ynez Valley.

Owner Rizal Risjad purchased the property in 2010 and, with his business partner and Managing Director, Jason Djang, established Brave & Maiden Estate in 2011.

Brave & Maiden Estate, inside winery, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden Estate, inside winery, courtesy photo.

“From the beginning, our vision for Brave & Maiden has been to become a world-class brand and we’ve never wavered from that,” said Djang, at a press preview event last month. “From our top winemaking team to our certified sustainable vineyard, the completion of our winery and tasting room is a giant leap towards making that vision a reality.”

The Brave & Maiden name is from the “Legend of Nojoqui,” a local version of the Romeo & Juliet story. Set at the nearby Nojoqui Falls, the legend recounts the story of star-crossed lovers who choose sacrifice over separation. According to the website, “inspired by such profound commitment, we’ve created a twofold and ambitious commitment of our own: to craft extraordinary wines and to share them with unforgettable hospitality.”

Brave & Maiden Estate exterior, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden Estate exterior, courtesy photo.

The 46-acre vineyard includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc. Brave & Maiden is also a SIP certified sustainable vineyard dedicated to producing handcrafted, single-vineyard estate wines and red blends.

Under the direction of Winemaker and Consultant Paul Hobbs and Winemaker Josh Klapper, with Ruben Solorzano managing the vineyard, Brave & Maiden’s wines are committed to producing estate wines with the utmost level of quality and care. This attention to detail is obvious in Brave & Maiden’s new tasting room and 8,000-case production facility, which were designed by Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, who are known for projects as Harlan Estate Winery, Larkmead Winery and Meadowood Napa Valley, Brave & Maiden is their first winery project on the Central Coast.

Tasting Room interior of Brave & Maiden Estate, photo by Jeremy Ball.

Tasting Room interior of Brave & Maiden Estate, photo by Jeremy Ball.

With stunning fireplaces, wood paneling and neutral earth tones, the impressive tasting room is spacious and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating areas and a private side area reserved for wine club members’ use. A huge sliding glass wall opens onto the expansive olive tree-filled courtyard between the tasting room and production facility, providing a great place to enjoy views of the picturesque vineyards and mountains.

Brave & Maiden offers three new wine experiences, all daily by appointment:

-a 45-minute Seated Tasting, where a dedicated host will guide guests through a curated selection of limited-production wines

-the Tour and Tasting option, offering a glimpse into the vineyard and backstage view of Brave & Maiden’s winemaking process, ending with a seated tasting

-the Tour, Tasting & Lunch, a two-hour elevated experience that includes a guided tour of the estate, followed by a seated tasting and gourmet lunch.

Brave & Maiden Estate, inside winery, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden Estate, inside winery, courtesy photo.

“With our new facility, our goal is to provide extraordinary experiences that are tailored to each individual guest, where they feel educated, entertained and cared for,” says Djang. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to share our journey and our wine with the community in an unforgettable experience of hospitality.”

“Brave & Maiden’s sustainably farmed vineyard is exceptional and I have no doubts the addition of the new winery and hospitality facility will further enhance and validate the brand’s presence in this world-class wine region,” shares Hobbs, who is somewhat of a legend in the winemaking world, as part of the initial team at Opus One, with a South American winemaking career that carries on today with his wines from Viña Cobos and his legendary status as the pioneer who launched malbec’s rise to fame. In additional to consulting projects, his impressive pedigree also includes being the owner and winemaker for Sebastopol-based wineries, Paul Hobbs Winery and CrossBarn, as well as his international partnerships, Viña Cobos (Cobos, Bramare, Cocodrilo, Felino), Crocus (Cahors, France), and Yacoubian-Hobbs (Armenia).

Brave & Maiden Estate exterior, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden Estate exterior, courtesy photo.

“We’ve invested all of ourselves in this project and are eager for guests to experience our wines first-hand. We strongly believe in the greatness of Santa Barbara County as a wine region and are privileged to be a part of it,” says Djang.

Brave & Maiden Estate is located at 649 N. Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez. For reservations, please call 805/693-2989, email reservations@braveandmaiden.com, or visit braveandmaiden.com.

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

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 19, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: The Wine Shepherd

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Two of Santa Barbara County’s hottest restaurant teams—PICO in Los Alamos and The Black Sheep in Downtown Santa Barbara—have joined forces to create The Wine Shepherd, a new wine bar, tasting room and wine shop located next to The Black Sheep at 30 E. Ortega St., Santa Barbara (at the corner of Ortega and Anacapa Streets, across from Paradise Cafe).

PICO co-owners Will Henry and Kali Kopley have an excellent selection of wine in the retail section of the restaurant and The Wine Shepherd extends those offerings into Santa Barbara’s buzzy Presidio Neighborhood. It also offers an additional tasting room for the well-regarded Lumen Wines, which Henry co-owns with pioneering Santa Barbara County winemaker Lane Tanner.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

“We have a 2,000-bottle wine inventory at PICO, available to enjoy at the bar, in the restaurant, or for purchase to take with you…with The Wine Shepherd, we’re simply sharing PICO’s unparalleled wine selection with a greater portion of Santa Barbara County,” states Henry, whose father, Warner Henry, founded The Henry Wine Group import, wholesale and broker empire.

The Wine Shepherd, whose name is a play on words referencing The Black Sheep, offers a wide array of local, domestic and international wines for sale, as well as a carefully-curated list of beer and cider. Housed in the former Seagrass Restaurant space, The Wine Shepherd’s “upcycled chic” ambiance features a tasting bar built by Henry himself, where a selection of 14 or more wines by the glass—plus beer and cider—are available, as well as Lumen Wines tasting flights and excellent cheeses and charcuterie from PICO Chef and Partner Drew Terp. The Wine Shepherd also offers competitive pricing on bottles to go.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

With a string of hits in the food and wine world, Kopley is owner-founder of five different establishments in North Lake Tahoe, California: three Uncorked wine bar locations, Soupa restaurant, and Petra, a wine-inspired restaurant in Northstar. As a restaurateur, Kopley was a customer of The Henry Wine Group, which led to her introduction to Will Henry. The two are now married are parents to an adorable little girl. 

“The Wine Shepherd marks the seventh wine-related business in which I’ve recently had a hand in launching, and is modeled after some of my Tahoe-area businesses,” says Kopley. “We have such a loyal PICO following…and many of our friends and fans make the drive from Santa Barbara to Los Alamos. The Wine Shepherd will give them just a taste of what PICO has to offer, but closer to home.”

“We will offer a large selection of wines from around the world, as well as a healthy representation of local heroes. As we do at PICO, we will focus on small production, family-owned producers and obscure, hard-to-get wines, plus old vintage rarities and gems,” says Henry.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

The Wine Shepherd, photo courtesy Anna Ferguson-Sparks, Stiletto Marketing.

Henry and Kopley chose The Wine Shepherd’s location after becoming friends with The Black Sheep’s family of owners, Chef Robert Perez and his son, Ruben.

“We have always loved what the Perez family has done with The Black Sheep. Kali was also a patron and huge fan of their former Nevada City restaurant, Citronée,” says Henry. “We intend this to be a partnership with them that will both enhance the wine experience that we’ll offer, and augment The Black Sheep’s existing wine program.”

The Wine Shepherd is open Tuesday through Friday from 3-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m., with special happy hour prices from 4-6 p.m. daily. For more information, visit WineShepherdSB.com.

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 July 6, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Get the VIP Treatment at Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Rob Brown.

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Rob Brown.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

It’s always lovely to visit Fess Parker‘s bucolic 714-acre ranch in Los Olivos, but they recently refurbished the VIP Barrel Room, which makes it an even better wine tasting experience.

The tour starts with a video, shot by acclaimed photographer Rob Brown, of the history of the ranch and Fess Parker’s development of the vineyard on what is now known as the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.  Though Fess passed away in 2010, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is still family owned and operated, as it has been since 1989.

Fess Parker Winery, courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Winery, courtesy photo.

Following the video, we went into the barrel room for a discussion of the cooperage selection, and the wine aging process, as well as a special barrel tasting. Our tour was just for my husband and I, but they can accommodate up to 12 guests.

Tasting at Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Tasting at Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

You then go into a seated tasting of some top notch wines,  accompanied by a selection of savory bites prepared by the culinary team at The Bear and Star restaurant (another delicious Fess Parker family venture at the nearby Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa in Los Olivos). Among the six notable wines we tasted that day were the 2016 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills and the 2015 Ashley’s Pinot Noir, also from Sta. Rita Hills.

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Peter Malinowski.

Fess Parker Winery Barrel Room, photo by Peter Malinowski.

Tasting in the sophisticated new barrel room—designed in dramatic shades of red and black, which are warmed up by wood cabinetry and shelving—definitely feels like you’re entering the inner sanctum of the winery, and creates a dynamic contrast to the more homespun vibe found in other, more public, parts of the winery, where tastings are also offered.

Fess Parker Winery patio, courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Winery patio, courtesy photo.

The VIP Barrel Room Tasting and Tour is only available on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m., by reservation only, and is $50 for non-wine club members and $35 for wine club members. For more information, call 800/841-1104 or email barrett@fessparker.com.

Fess Parker Winery is located at 6200 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the 12 other wineries on the Foxen Canyon Wine trail (one of the most beautiful ways to explore Santa Barbara Wine Country, in my opinion) click here.

Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Fess Parker Winery, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

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 22, 2018.

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: Oh Hanukkah!

The final 8 Days {an Edible Hanukkah Collaboration} takes places on Dec. 19 at K’Syrah Catering & Events, courtesy photo.

The final 8 Days {an Edible Hanukkah Collaboration} takes place on Dec. 19 at K’Syrah Catering & Events, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

The first night of Hanukkah is December 12, and that night also kicks off an awesome edible Hanukkah collaboration between two Santa Ynez Valley Chefs—PICO’s Drew Terp and Brooke Stockwell of K’Syrah Catering & Events—on an eight-day foodie fest building up to a final eight-course, seated dinner with wine pairings—featuring some of Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Jewish winemakers.

The “8 Days” event begins on December 12, with the first Hanukkah candle at PICO restaurant (458 Bell St., Los Alamos) and Chef Drew’s reveal of a new Hanukkah-themed dish hinting at the courses destined for the final night’s seated, eight-course dinner. Diners at PICO will be able to view all six nights’ special dishes, but will only be able to order the dishes as they are “lit”–in other words, “Dish #1” will be available on night one and all subsequent nights, whereas on night three, guests will be able to order Dish #1, #2 and/or #3. In addition, winemakers scheduled to pour at the final night’s event will pour their wines at PICO on select nights of candles one through six.  

The last two evenings of 8 Days {an Edible Hanukkah Collaboration} take place at K’Syrah Catering & Events, courtesy photo.

The last two evenings of 8 Days {an Edible Hanukkah Collaboration} take place at K’Syrah Catering & Events, courtesy photo.

Then, on Monday, December 18, the second-to-last night of Hanukkah, the holiday party travels to K’Syrah Catering & Events’ venue (478 4th Pl., Solvang), where a ticketed reception will showcase eight different Hanukkah-inspired plates in a passed hors d’oeuvres format. A cash bar will also be available that evening, offering a full bar plus creative craft cocktails entailing ingredients traditionally used in Jewish holiday celebrations. Tickets for the food portion of the evening of December 18 are $25 per person if purchased through December 13, or $30 per person if purchased after December 13 or at the event entrance, and are available at 8-days-edible-hanukkah-collaboration.eventbrite.com. (Cash cocktail bar is not included in the ticket price.)

The finale takes place on Tuesday, December 19 at K’Syrah Catering & Events and includes an eight-course collaborative Hanukkah menu from Chef Drew and Chef Brooke and an optional selection of associated wine pairings. 

Here’s the delicious sounding “8 Days” Finale Menu” (Wine Pairings TBA)

1 — Potato latke, smoked salmon, black pepper, salmon chicharrónes, crème fraîche, chive oil

2 — Roasted beet salad, honey vinaigrette, goat cheese crouton

3 — Fritto Misto (zucchini, winter squash, apple, fennel, with sage brown butter emulsion)

4 — Savory Kugel (kale, cipollini, gruyere, challah breadcrumbs)

5 — Parsnip latke, grilled quail, pomegranate, with charoset

6 — Braised brisket, fermented apple sauce, grilled root vegetables, smoked sunchoke cream, crispy taro root

7 — Olive oil cake, cherry soup, bay leaf chantilly lace

8 — Apple beignet, dulce de leche, sour cream ice milk

Tickets for the Tuesday, December 19 finale event run $85 per person with optional wine pairings for an additional $40 per person, and are available at 8-days-edible-hanukkah-collaboration.eventbrite.com (advance ticket purchase is required).

Courtesy 8 Days {an Edible Hanukkah Collaboration}.

Courtesy 8 Days {an Edible Hanukkah Collaboration}.

Are you cooking your own meal this Hanukkah? Israel’s leading wineries just released a food and wine-pairing guide for the holiday, offering an innovative spin on matching wine with traditional Hanukkah dishes.

The guide, from Israel’s Golan Heights and Galil Mountain wineries, and their North American importer, Yarden Inc., calls for creative pairings such as gewurztraminer with potato latkes and sour cream. “The spicy and off-dry notes of the gewurztraminer will accentuate the subtle spices of the latkes,” the wineries suggest. “The medium-bodied viscosity will work great with the cream.”

However, if you are among those who prefer applesauce with your potato pancakes, the wineries suggest sauvignon blanc should be your go-to bottle. “You will want a bit more acidity to go with the underlying acidity in the applesauce,” the guide says. “The dryness of the sauvignon blanc will make the applesauce taste slightly sweeter; and the grass and herbal notes will bring out the earthiness of the potato.”

Other creative twists include viognier with sweet potato latkes and applesauce, and chardonnay with zucchini latkes and sour cream. For those who prefer to head straight to the classic jelly doughnuts, the wineries suggest a moscato as “the perfect foil.” Download the entire, free guide here.

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 December 6, 2017. 

Cocktail Corner: Kings Carey Wines

Kings Carey's first wine releases include (L-R) 2014 Grenache, 2015 Grenache and 2016 Rose of Grenache. Courtesy photos.

Kings Carey’s first wine releases include (L-R) 2014 Grenache, 2015 Grenache and 2016 Rose of Grenache. Courtesy photos.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

No matter how many times I’m reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover, I’m still a sucker for an interesting wine label, so I was particularly intrigued by the samples I recently received from Kings Carey Wine, the new label by Liquid Farm Winemaker James Sparks.

It turns out the eye-catching labels are by Philadelphia-based illustrator and artist, Hawk Krall.

Kings Carey Grenache 2014 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

Kings Carey Grenache 2014 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

James Sparks! Hawk Krall! Do these guys sound like movie character names or what! But they’re also both very talented. Krall’s work was familiar to me from the beloved and vanished foodie mag Lucky Peachbut he’s been working his artistic magic for more than a decade. He’s well known for his food illustration, in particular, as well as his humorous editorial illustration, gallery showings and installations.

Kings Carey Rose 2016 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

Kings Carey Rose 2016 label, designed by Hawk Krall.

In SAVEUR Magazine, another foodie fave, Krall pens and illustrates a recurring series of pieces in the publication, “Hawk’s Illustrated America,” which “follows his journeys through the back roads of the U.S. in search of our country’s most obscure and delicious regional specialties.”

Of course, this wine is more than just a pretty package. We tasted the first three wines—a 2014 Grenache (John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley AVA); a 2015 Grenache (John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA); and a 2016 Rosé of Grenache from new Santa Ynez Valley AVA vineyard, Brick Barn—and enjoyed every last drop.

“I’m trying to produce ‘untypical’ wines of typicity,” says Sparks. “It’s not that this region can’t produce these types of wines; it’s just that you don’t see it very often. These are not fruit bombs. These are clean expressions of the fruit at-hand.” 

In addition to his private Kings Carey label, Sparks continues to create Liquid Farm’s variety of wines (currently five Chardonnays, a Rosé of Mourvèdre, and two Pinot Noirs). 

The Kings Carey winery space is located in Lompoc. Visits and private tastings are by appointment only, and reservations may be made by emailing info@KingsCarey.com.

Kings Carey Wines may currently be found in these locations:

Restaurants & Bars
Cecco Ristorante | 475 First St., Solvang, CA 93463
First & Oak | 409 First St., Solvang, CA 93463
Community Craft | 2446 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos, CA 93441
Bell Street Farm | 406 Bell St., Los Alamos, CA 93440
Scratch Kitchen | 610 N. H St., Lompoc, CA 93436

Retail
Nielsen’s Market | 608 Alamo Pintado Rd., Solvang, CA 93463

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 September 15, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: A Taste of Italy with DoctorWine

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

As far as I’m concerned, one of the only things more fun than enjoying a great wine and food pairing is enjoying it with smart people who are willing to share their knowledge and make the experience even more delicious. When DoctorWine himself, Daniele Cernilli—a highly acclaimed expert on Italian wines and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017—came to town last week, I was thrilled to be able to break bread with him and taste wines from some of his favorite producers.

Our tasting at Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant was definitely a treat.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Named one of the “50 Most Influential People in the Wine World” by Decanter Magazine, Cernilli is a journalist by trade, and in addition to being a regular contributor to Italian newspapers, trade and consumer publications, he has written a number of technical books on wine and wine tasting. In addition to multiple editions of The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine, his books include, among others, Memorie di un degustatore di vini (Memories of a Wine Taster), a chronicle-memoir of his first 25 years as a taster with this opinions on many Italian and foreign wines, and Vitigni del Mondo (World Wine Grapes), written in collaboration with Dario Cappelloni, which is the most complete catalog of wine grapes ever published in Italy.

In other words, he knows his stuff, and so did the eight wine producers who accompanied him on a tour of California.

First up was Torre Rosazza – Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Fruili DOC 2016. Torre Rosazza is one of the largest producers in Europe, and Pinot Grigio has been cultivated in Friuli for centuries with great results that showcase the area’s hilly terrain. Luisa Bortolotto, the winery’s Export Manager was on hand to answer questions. Paired with a delicious salad of gems lettuces, heirloom tomato, cucumber, mint and  mouth-watering herb creme fraiche, this wine was fresh and very drinkable.

DoctorWine Daniele Cernilli leads The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour luncheon at Les Marchands, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

DoctorWine Daniele Cernilli leads The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 California Tour luncheon at Les Marchands, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Next up were two wines paired with a delicious summer corn chowder: Querciabella – Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 from Tuscany, along with Owner Giacomo Neri; and Feudo Maccari – Saia Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC 2014 from Sicily.

Querciabella, as DoctorWine explained, has been organic since 1988, long before there were any regulations around the practice and this very classic, 100% Sangiovese Chianti was quite lovely with a balance of fruity and savory notes. The Feudo Maccari wine, made from 100% Nero d’Avola grapes was very complex and full bodied, but quite well balanced, and also paired very well with the soup.

Our main course was the Les Marchands fabulous take on Steak Frites, with pan seared hangar steak, wild argula, salsa verde and French fries. It paired really well with three different wines: Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2012 from Tuscany/Montepulciano, accompanied by Owner Francesco Carletti (“King of the old Tuscan wines is the Nobile,” says DoctorWine, and it did indeed have some royal flavor); Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2013 from Piedmont, a lovely 100% Nebbiolo classic Barolo; and Velenosi Roggio Del Filare Rosso Piceno Superiore DOCG 2012 from Marche. 

Finally a lovely assortment of cheese and Helena Ave Bakery breads accompanied the last two wines: the Robert Parker 100-point-rated Casanova di Neri – Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 from Tuscany/Montalcino, along with General Manager Roberto La Sorte (yes, it was excellent); and the Bertani – Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2007 from Veneto/Amarone, accompanied by Technical Director Girdano Formenti. DoctorWine explained that the Bertani was a classic Amarone, made the traditional way, in vineyards devoted entirely to producing drying grapes. The grapes are set aside to dry on (racks made from bamboo canes and then they ferment in concrete and age in barrels for seven years. It’s a complicated process, but so very worth it.

Want to learn more about Italian wine? Cernilli’s website, www.doctorwine.it,  is entirely bi-lingual (Italian-English) and is designed especially to give an Italian perspective to a global public. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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 September 5, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: In the Mood for Love

A special Valentines Day Cocktail from Finch & Fork, courtesy photo.

A special Valentines Day Cocktail from Finch & Fork, courtesy photo.

 

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Love is in the air this month, with Valentine’s Day cocktail specials from some of our favorite mixologists. Want to get in the mood for Valentine’s Day?  Try Inconceivable! from Joe Dohany of Finch & Fork (31 W. Carrillo St. in the Canary Hotel).

“A beautiful and balanced cocktail with tequila, strawberry shrub, zucca, mezcal and soda water. It will be served in a coupe with a dehydrated strawberry on top just for Valentine’s Day.”

Kiss Me Stupid Champagne Cocktail courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Kiss Me Stupid Champagne Cocktail courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Also on tap this holiday season is a special “San Valentino Dinner” for romance at SY Kitchen (1110 Faraday St. in Santa Ynez),  as well as mixologist Alberto Battaglini’s “Kiss Me Stupid” Champagne Cocktail, “a seductive champagne cocktail of vacuum-infused strawberry juice with mint, aperol and gin, topped with champagne.”

Another favorite sipping spot, Santa Barbara Wine Collective (131 Anacapa St.) has some special tastings available for the holiday, available Feb. 10-14:

For bubble enthusiasts, Fess Parker’s ‘Fesstivity’ Sparkling Wine Flight features a Blanc de Blancs, a Brut Cuvee and a Blanc de Noirs.

Santa Barbara Wine Collective, courtesy photo

Santa Barbara Wine Collective, courtesy photo

For those that love Pinot Noir, a Pinot Noir Flight includes Ca’ Del Grevino Estate Pinot Noir, Fess Parker ‘Pommard’ Pinot Noir, Babcock ‘Slice of Heaven’ Pinot Noir and The Hilt ‘Vanguard’ Pinot Noir.

The ‘Red is for love’ Flight is perfect for red wine fans, with Fess Parker ‘Rodney’s’ Syrah, Babcock Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Ca’ Del Grevino Dolcetto, Notary Public Cabernet Sauvignon and The Paring ‘Red” Bordeaux Blend.

On Sunday, February 12 only, the “Little Sweet One” Tasting Flight, including Ca’ Del Grevino Estate wines (Riesling, Pinot

Raspberry Beret, courtesy Les Marchands.

Raspberry Beret, courtesy Les Marchands.

Noir, Grenache, Dolcetto & Syrah) is paired with chocolates from Heart & Sugar Confections.

The sommelier team at Les Marchands (131 Anacapa St.) is also in the mood for St. Valentine to strike, with an original cocktail known for its aphrodisiac-like qualities—The Raspberry Beret—with Plymouth Gin, Crème De Framboise, Lemon Juice & Rose Water. 

“This cocktail’s scented flavors of rose petal, spice and tart raspberry make this a classy and flirty drink for the cocktail enthusiast.”

Sounds good to me. 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 February 3, 2017.

 

 

Cocktail Corner: World of Pinot Noir Makes a Delicious Gift

Photos courtesy World of Pinot Noir.

Photos courtesy World of Pinot Noir.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

If you’re looking to splurge on a gift for that special someone, who happens to be a wine lover, why not plan your Pinot Noir adventure together and take them to the World of Pinot!

I get to go to a LOT of wine festivals and this event, which takes place March 3 – 4 at the Bacara Resort & Spa, is definitely one of my favorites.

There are two days of tastings, seminars and dinners where guests can taste wines from more than 200 wineries —all Pinot Noirs—from areas including Burgundy, Mendocino, Monterey, New Zealand, Oregon, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Sonoma. It’s the ultimate tasting experience!

Courtesy World of Pinot Noir

Courtesy World of Pinot Noir

Right now there’s even a special holiday gift offer available until January 3. Enter code “Pink” to receive a discount on the Rosé Lunch and Grand Tasting on Friday, March 3. Enjoy a selection of Pinot Noir Rosé wines with lunch prepared by Bacara’s culinary team in the new Angel Oak restaurant, then continue your journey of Pinot Noir at the Grand Tasting.

Also on special for the holidays is the Sparkling Brunch and Grand Tasting on Saturday, March 4. Kick off your day with bubbles! A selection of sparkling wine and Champagnes will be featured with brunch prepared by Bacara’s culinary team in the new Angel Oak restaurant. Then continue on to the Grand Tasting. Enter code “Bubbles” to receive your special discount.

Additional highlights include: Hirsch Seminar and Tasting; Kosta Browne 20th Anniversary Dinner; Louis Latour Tasting & Dinner; Edna Valley Winery Collective Dinner; Cheese Seminar featuring Sonoma Wines; Vintage Burgundy Dinner with the Guild of Sommeliers; Rock Stars of Pinot Noir featuring Merry Edwards and the Hitching Post Vertical Tasting & Barbecue; as well as the Grand Tasting on both Friday and Saturday.

Click here for the entire lineup of events or visit worldofpinotnoir.com for more information. Hope to see 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 December 16, 2016.

 

Cocktail Corner: Tasty Tidbits

The Lark, courtesy photo.

The Lark, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

I can’t believe that summer is almost over. There’s been a lot of news on the bar beat the last few months. Here are some highlights:                

One of Santa’s Barbara’s favorite dining destinations, The Lark (131 Anacapa St.), was recognized by Wine Enthusiast in their sixth annual issue of the “Best Places to Drink Up In While Dining Out.” As a winner of the “Not to be Missed” category, The Lark was recognized for their outstanding wine program curated by Wine Directors Chris Robles and Vern Kettler. The wine list at the Lark focuses on smaller production wines made with minimal intervention from the winemaker, and which reflect a sense of place. Grape varieties for which the Santa Barbara area is known and their international counterparts are the focus. With few exceptions, all American wines are from Santa Barbara County. Wine Enthusiast editors state that “Chef Jason Paluska’s wine friendly foods are inspired by farmers’ markets—smoked pork belly, for example, might come with roasted berries, pickled summer peppers and candied brittle of fat local almonds.” The Lark is the only recipient from Santa Barbara this year, and one of 22 restaurants awarded in California. See the full list here. 

J. Wilkes Wines, courtesy photo.

J. Wilkes Wines, courtesy photo.

J. Wilkes Wines has opened a new tasting room in downtown Los Olivos at 2963 Grand Ave.  The space highlights a distinct wine tasting experience including educational aspects focusing on the region’s unique AVA’s, an entertaining quiz and private Winemaker Office Hours with winemaker Wes Hagen

The J.Wilkes brand was launched in 2001 by wine industry veteran Jefferson Wilkes and after his passing in 2010, the label was relaunched by the Miller Family, a fifth-generation California farming family, as a tribute to Jefferson’s unwavering love of the region.  J. Wilkes, under the guidance of accomplished winemaker Hagen, is dedicated to producing wines from the greatest American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) on the Central Coast.  Their new tasting room and education center in Los Olivos boasts an experience that gives insight into these regions and their wines and provides visitors with information about the area’s AVA’s including Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Paso Robles.  

At long last, bottles of Cutler’s spirits are now available for purchase in the tasting room.

Cutler courtesy photo

Ian Cutler, courtesy photo

You can now come directly to the distillery to purchase your local favorite spirits. Personally, I’m partial to the spicy, cinnamon-tastic, delicious Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur,  but Cutler’s Artisan Spirits also has its own Gin, Vodka and 33 Bourbon Whiskey, all of which are high quality and locally produced. (the tasting room and distillery is at 137 Anacapa St., Suite D, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone).

Some of the fare at Lama Dog and the Nook, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some of the fare at Lama Dog and the Nook, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

 

 

 

The first two tenants at The Waterline, a commercial mixed-use project at 116-122 Santa Barbara St. in the Funk Zone, have opened for business and both have quickly become local favorites: the Nook by Master Chef Norbert Schulz, and Lama Dog Tap Room and Bottle Shop. Craft beers (and a few wines) paired with fabulous, high quality food is a win-win for the area. Try the House-Made Bratwurst or the Rock Fish Tacos with one of 20 interesting rotating beers on tap.

Ah … it’s a great way to keep that summer feeling going all year long!

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 September 2, 2016.