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.

 

 

Summer Editor’s Pick: Central Coast Wine Classic

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

Courtesy Central Coast Wine Classic.

The Central Coast Wine Classic (Aug. 10–14) celebrates 31 years of excellent wine tastings, tours, symposiums, rare wine dinners and more, including a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Symposium and another highlighting Champagne Louis Roederer and Black River Caviar (centralcoastwineclassic.org).

—Leslie Dinaberg

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Meet El Lugar and Clairborne & Churchill Winemaker Coby Parker Garcia

Claiborne-Churchill winesInside Wine Santa Barbara—a fun and educational Meetup group which is open to the public—features winemaker Coby Parker Garcia at a special gathering on July 23, at 5:30 p.m., in the charming courtyard of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, 2559 Puesta Del Sol.

Under the El Lugar label, Garcia creates small lot, vineyard designate Pinot Noir, defined by their place of origin. The site-specific Pinot is sourced from Hawk’s Roost Ranch in the Russian River Valley, Rincon Vineyard, which is part of the historic Talley Vineyards of San Luis Obispo County, Greengate Vineyard of Edna Valley and Santa Maria’s famed Bien Nacido Vineyards which has produced many award-winning and highly-rated wines. One such example is El Lugar’s  2013 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir which received 93 Points and “Editor’s Choice” from Wine Enthusiast with the praise: “Longtime Claiborne & Churchill winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia releases his own project with exemplary results.”

Garcia is also the head winemaker at Claiborne & Churchill, taking the helm after his long-time mentor Clay Thompson retired. 

Guests will have the opportunity to hear from Garcia on his winemaking techniques and taste two of his premium El Lugar Pinot Noirs and three of his elegant Claiborne & Churchill wines. Light appetizers will also be served.

The cost of the event is $24. To register: http://www.meetup.com/inside-Wine-Santa-Barbara/.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on July 14, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Fess Parker’s New Spot to Sip by the Sea

Fess Parker Tasting Experience opened this week at The Fess Parker - A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort. Courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Tasting Experience opened this week at The Fess Parker – A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

There’s a great new addition to Santa Barbara’s waterfront area: Fess Parker Properties now has a tasting room right inside of the beachfront hotel, The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

Opening its doors last night, the new venue features a a rotating selection of 16 wines from Fess Parker Winery and Epiphany (winemaker Eli Parker‘s small production label), focusing on limited production and single vineyard offerings.  Not only is this comfortable, earth-toned spot a convenient, low key place to taste the excellent Parker family of wines, it also features the state-of-the-art Enomatic wine dispensing system, known for protecting the freshness, flavors and characteristics of each wine.  Wines are enjoyed with the touch of a button, and savored as if each bottle had just been opened. 

With just an easy and admittedly fun push of a button, you can choose whether you want a taste, a half glass or a full glass of wine, and you are billed accordingly. Among our favorites sampled last night were the Fess Parker Winery Santa Barbara County Viognier (a zippy, full-bodied wine that’s perfect for summer) and the Fess Parker Winery Pommard Clone Pinot Noir (a beautifully balanced red), but with 16 varieties on tap at any given time, there is definitely something to please every palate.

Eli Parker shows a guest the Enomatic wine dispensing system at the Fess Parker Tasting Experience. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Eli Parker shows a guest the Enomatic wine dispensing system at the Fess Parker Tasting Experience. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

 “We are excited to have the opportunity to bring the Fess Parker Winery experience ‘over the hill’ to our hotel guests who aren’t able to journey to wine country during their stay,” says Eli Parker, “It is a project we have envisioned for this property for quite some time.  To see it come to fruition is very satisfying.”

 The Santa Barbara beachfront tasting room is open daily from noon to 7 p.m. and is located off of the main lobby inside the resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 800/879-2929, www.fpdtr.com.

 For more information on the Fess Parker family of wines, please visit www.fessparker.com.

Fess Parker Tasting Experience opened this week at The Fess Parker - A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort. Courtesy photo.

Fess Parker Tasting Experience opened this week at The Fess Parker – A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort. Courtesy photo.

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 23. 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Potek Winery Launches in The Mill

Potek Winery opens Aug. 20 at The Mill (Haley and Laguna Streets). Photo by Cara Robbins.

Potek Winery opens Aug. 20 at The Mill (Haley and Laguna Streets). Photo by Cara Robbins.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

It seems rather fitting that Dave Potter‘s new wine venture, Potek Winery, is the first of several farm-to-table ventures launching in The Mill. If you haven’t heard about Darrell and Kirsten Becker‘s cool new project, trust me, you will! Located at the corner of Laguna and Haley streets, The Mill is a stunning modern spin on The Feed Mill originally constructed in 1904 by the Boykin family and now converted into a very unique artisan marketplace with onsite manufacturing.

I predict both locals and visitors will flock to this cool, new mixed-use venue, which will eventually feature a production winery and tasting bar (that’s Potek), a craft brewery and tap room (Third Window Brewery), specialty restaurant (from Justin and Emma West of Julienne) and event center—all connected by a beautiful and practical shared-space, tree-shaded courtyard. The Mill is also home to creative businesses Becker Studios Design/Construction, Pelago and AB Design Studio.

Potter—who is best known as the affable winemaker and proprietor of Municipal Winemakers in the Funk Zone—began handcrafting wines for the Potek label in 2012. “The whole principal behind Muni Wine was to be as approachable as possible, accessible to anyone,” Potter told me when we chatted at Potek last month.

Potek is more serious, upscale venture, “focused on tiny bottlings from individual ranches.” The new winery is founded on a commitment to produce the best possible wines from Santa Barbara’s world-class vineyards, rooted in traditional techniques with a reverence for site.

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

The first five releases include:

2013 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir, $60

“Making wine from Sanford & Benedict is a privilege,” says Potter.   “The fruit for this wine is from the original 1971 own-rooted plantings—the genesis of Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. This vineyard has been tended from the start with love and care, resulting in vines that produce wines of amazing complexity and striking purity.”

2013 Rancho La Vina Pinot Noir, $50

Potter says, “2013 Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina is laced with spice, dark plum and menthol, all of which blossoms in the glass effortlessly. Savory and floral notes are just beginning to develop in what looks to be a hugely promising Pinot to drink over the next several years.”

2012 Tierra Alta Syrah, $45

“Iron, smoke, tobacco, black olives, cedar and black cherries meld together in the 2012 Syrah Tierra Alta,” says Potter. ” It’s rich and explosive through to the finish. The 2012 boasts terrific depth and density in a meaty, full- bodied style.   This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered in April of 2014.”

2012 Tierra Alta Grenache, $40

Potter says this wine, “boasts notable depth, but the inclusion of the whole clusters adds an attractive element of lift to balance the richness and fruit. 2012 is hugely varietal, but the flavors and textures are all amped up—kirsch, spice-box, cured meats and dried licorice-like qualities.”

2013 Kick on Ranch Riesling, $30

“Kick On Ranch is, in my opinion, the top Riesling site in Santa Barbara County,” says Potter.  “We bottled 94 cases and are releasing the wine after a year of bottle aging. Riesling wines from this ranch tend to stay really primary until about one year of bottle age. At this point, they begin to develop those curiously tasty, mineral and kerosene characters unique to the varietal. Green apples, sage and a hint of spice are all present and nicely compliment that fascinating mineral character specific to Riesling. Above all else, this is a wine that speaks of texture; it is crisp, fresh and steely, while simultaneously creamy, supple and generous.”

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potter explains that the origin of the name Potek is from his great grandfather, who immigrated from Romania to the United States with the name Berl Potek, which was changed to Benjamin Potter, as he passed through Ellis Island in 1917. Potek’s bravery to search for a better life, and the immigrants’ experience of adaptation in a new environment inspires his great grandson’s approach to winemaking with traditional French techniques and grapes, grown in California.

“I could not be more excited about my first release of Potek wines. The bottlings are from vineyard sites that I have been working with for years, and represent what I feel to be some of the strongest expressions of these special places in Santa Barbara County,” says Potter.

The wines are available for sale online now, and the winery, at 406 E. Haley St., will be open to the general public starting Aug. 20. For more information, visit Potek.com or call 805/598 1896.Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

Potek Winery, photo by Christian Thomas Hynes

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 August 14, 2015.