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: Smile Sideways to Win, Friendship Center Wine Down, Bien Nacido Winemakers’ Dinner & More

Courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

Courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

The Sideways celebrations continue on this week with a special 10th Anniversary Sign Promotion September 5th – 14th in 100 different locations throughout Santa Barbara County. To celebrate the Oscar-winning film and its impact on the local wine scene, 100 six-foot tall signs featuring Miles and Jack are being placed at locations used in the film and other high-traffic areas around Santa Barbara County.

Fans can pose with the signs and then enter their photos to win the ultimate Santa Barbara Wine Country vacation (or staycation for those who are local). Photos must be tagged with #Sideways10 on Twitter or Instagram, or uploaded manually to Sideways10.com/Enter. Each daily winner takes home a copy of the movie on Blu-rayTM + Digital HD, while one lucky Grand Prize winner receives the ultimate vacation in Santa Barbara Wine Country, including four hotel night stays, wine tasting adventures, delectable dining, and ocean and land excursions.

Pose with these Sideways celebration signs and you could win big! Photo courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

Pose with these Sideways celebration signs and you could win big! Photo courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

Sign locations in Santa Barbara include: Au Bon Climat, AVA Santa Barbara, Conway Deep Sea Tasting Room, Grassini Family Vineyards, Kalyra by the Sea Tasting Room, Kunin Wines, La Cumbre PlazaMargerum Wine CompanyPali Wine Co., Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara Public Market, Silver Wines and Wine Cask.

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Solvang is calling all wine aficionados to participate in the Merlot Taste-Off event on September 13 as a tribute to the movie Sideways.

The event pays homage to the wine variety made famous in the Oscar-winning film, when Miles famously says, “If anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any (expletive) merlot!” Tracy Farhad, executive director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, has a rebuttal. “No more denigrating merlot! Come taste these marvelous wines for yourself.”  Participating wineries include Baehner FournierButtonwoodCarivintasCoreDascombHappy Canyon VineyardJ. LudlowLions PeakLucas & LewellenPoint ConcepcionSagebrush AnniesSevtap and Sunstone.

The event is a benefit for the nonprofit Solvang Festival Theatre (420 Second St., Solvang), which is also, conveniently, where it takes place. For information and tickets call 805/688-6144 or visit SolvangUSA.com.

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Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café (2879 Grand Ave., Los Olivos) hosts its first-ever “Rock Steady” Bien Nacido Winemakers’ Dinner on September 18  at 6 p.m. Three of Santa Barbara County’s winemaking elite—Jim Clendenen of Au Bon ClimatBob Lindquist of Qupe and Trey Fletcher of Bien Nacido Estate—will be pouring their specially paired Bien Nacido vineyard-designate wines with a six-course meal created by Café Chef Chris Joslyn.

For reservations call 805/688-7265 ext. 203 or click here.

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Friendship Center, the south coast’s only nonprofit, fully licensed adult day services program, will have its 5th Annual Wine Down, Friday, September 19 from 4-7 p.m. This casual yet festive event features local vintners pouring their wines for tasting, delicious Asian-inspired hors d’oeuvres by Spices N Rice and live music by Montecito Jazz Project Held al fresco in the courtyard of the lovely center in Montecito, this Friday after-work gathering will give guests a chance to enjoy a lovely late-summer evening and “wine down“ from the cares of the week. A small silent auction will offer carefully selected gift baskets featuring high-quality wine and wine-related items.

Participating wineries include: Andrew Murray VineyardsButtonwood Farm Winery & VineyardConsilience & Tre AnelliCottonwood Canyon WineryDemetriaFess Parker Winery & VineyardPali Wine Co.PalminaSanta Barbara WineryTower 15 Winery, and Vinemark Cellars. Beer from Surf Brewery will also be featured.

The Friendship Center is located at 89 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito. To purchase tickets click here.

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Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar (1539-C Mission Dr.) has the first “Friday Night Wines” class of the season on Friday, September 5 at 6 p.m. In the September class, guests will learn about the history of Santa Barbara as a wine country, and will sample wines from the five distinct AVAs in the County. Reservations may be made directly through Wandering Dog Wine Bar, by calling 805/686-9126 or emailing jody@wanderingdogwinebar.com.

Hope to see you out and about! 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 on September 5, 2014.