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: Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, featuring just about every varietal of small production wines. Courtesy photo.

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, featuring just about every varietal of small production wines. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

The Garagiste Festival is back in Solvang next month and I am so excited to taste what they have in store for us this year.

A fun and very unique wine festival celebrating small production wines and their makers (who are usually there to pour and talk about all things vino), Garagistes (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to put down renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything not a chateau), who refused to follow the rules, and has now become a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.

The 2018 Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival, which features more than 30 of California’s best micro-production wineries, takes place on Feb. 9-11 at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall in Solvang (1745 Mission Dr.). 

New this year, the festival’s sixth in Santa Barbara County, is a seminar series that pays tribute to the “Original Garagistes,” featuring a Q&A and wine tasting with Central Coast winemaking pioneer, Bob Lindquist of Qupé.  An original Rhône Ranger (America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines) and recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award, Lindquist was one of the first in the wine industry to advocate American-made Syrah and other Rhône varietals. His winery Qupé has been named one of the Wineries of the Year for Wine & Spirits Magazine every year since 1999.

“A true original garagiste, Bob is an inspiration to micro-production winemakers everywhere and epitomizes everything that the American Garagiste movement is about—handcrafting stunning wines from under-appreciated grapes, ignoring established rules, innovating and taking risks and generously sharing knowledge with peers,” says Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick.  “There would be no Garagiste movement, no Rhone Rangers—and the Central Coast would still be a blip on the way to Napa—without visionary winemakers like Bob.”

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, for its sixth annual festival. Courtesy photo.

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, for its sixth annual festival. Courtesy photo.

The weekend’s fun kicks off on Friday night, Feb. 9, with a “No Repeats, Rare and Reserve” tasting and BBQ, featuring food from local favorite Neighbor Tim’s BBQ (6480 Calle Real, Goleta). The “Original Garagiste” event with Lindquist takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10, immediately preceding the Grand Tasting, at Veterans Memorial Hall. Sunday, Feb. 11 marks the return of Passport Day, which offers special deals at participating local wineries for Garagiste Festival ticket holders who want to further explore the area.

Winemakers already scheduled to pour include:

Ann Albert Wines, Santa Barbara County

Ascension Cellars, Paso Robles

Bevela Wines, Central Coast

 

Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo.

Bradley Family Winery, Santa Ynez Valley

Buscador Wine, Buellton

Byron Blatty Wines, Los Angeles

Caliza Winery, Paso Robles

Camlow Cellars, Russian River Valley

Cavaletti Vineyards, Southern California

Cholame Vineyard, Buellton

Cloak & Dagger Wines, Paso Robles

Clos de Amis Winery, Ventura County

Cordon Wine, Santa Barbara County

D. Volk Wines, Santa Ynez Valley 

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Diablo Paso, Paso Robles

Dunites Wine Co., San Luis Obispo County

Dusty Nabor Wines, Westlake Village

El Lugar Wines, San Luis Obispo

Elwood Wines, Santa Maria Valley

Golden Triangle, Paso Robles

Ground Truth Wine, Santa Barbara County

Hoi Polloi Wines, Central Coast

Kimsey Vineyards, Santa Barbara County

Luna Hart Wines, Buellton

March Wines, Napa Valley

Marin’s Vineyard, Lockwood 

Courtesy Garagiste Festival

MCV Wines, Morro Bay

Metrick Wines, throughout California

Mollie Wines, Santa Barbara County

Montagne Russe, Mill Valley

Montemar Winery, Lompoc

Ryan Cochrane Wines, Santa Barbara County

Serrano Wine, Paso Robles

Sycamore Ranch Winery, Crestline

TLO Wines,  Paso Robles

Torch Cellars, Paso Robles 

TW Fermentation Co., Paso Robles

Velvet Bee Wine, Santa Ynez Valley

Vino Vargas, San Miguel

Volatus Wines, Paso Robles

Weatherborne Wine Co., Santa Barbara County

Called “wildly exuberant and fun,” “wine tasting Nirvana” and “not-to-be missed’ by the Los Angeles Times, Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure has showcased hundreds of micro-production winemakers from Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez area, many of who poured their first vintage at the festival and have gone on to greater renown.

Garagiste Festivals Inc. is a nonprofit organization and benefits the Garagiste Scholarship at Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department, so not only can you drink great wine and meeting interesting winemakers, your ticket also gives back to local youth. 

For more information, visit californiagaragistes.com. 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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons

on January 19, 2018.

Eyvind Earle | Winter at Elverhøj Museum

Eyvind Earle, "Winter Barns," courtesy Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.

Eyvind Earle, “Winter Barns,” courtesy Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.

Winter arrives before Thanksgiving at Elverhøj Museum of History & Art in Solvang (1624 Elverhoy Way) with the debut of the holiday exhibition, “Eyvind Earle│Winter.” 

Noted for his landscape painting and contributions to the background illustration and styling of classic Disney animated films like Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the TrampEyvind Earle is also famous for his Christmas and holiday greeting cards, creating over 800 designs between 1938 and 1995.

The Elverhoj exhibition showcases serigraphs and paintings that are the basis of Earle’s famous greeting cards. This is a special opportunity for collectors as limited edition serigraphs will be available for purchase.

“I never planned to be involved with Christmas card designing,” said Earle. “It simply happened as a means of survival. To me, every day is Christmas. Every creation is divine. Cover the ugliest run-down shack with snow, and it becomes a magic vision of purity.”

For a ten year period between 1968-1978 Earle resided in Solvang. “The imagery derived from themes of the Santa Ynez Valley are unmistakable in many of Earle’s paintings and serigraphs,” says Elverhoj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates. “He found inspiration in the natural beauty of the CA Central Coast.”

Elverhøj Museum of History & Art is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for admission; suggested donation is $5. More information can be found at www.elverhoj.org or by calling 805/686-1211.

 The Eyvind Earle exhibition  is on view from November 18 through January 28.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 19, 2017.

Local Lowdown: The Gathering Table at Ballard Inn

The Gathering Table at Ballard Inn, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The Gathering Table at Ballard Inn, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

By Leslie Dinaberg

An artistic melding of Asian, French and California wine country cuisine, The Gathering Table at Ballard Inn features a delicious selection of seasonal locally sourced produce, seafood and meats.

Ballard Inn has always been highly regarded for its romantic ambiance and award-winning cuisine, but the new restaurant concept from Chef Budi Kazali, who has owned the property with his wife Chris since 2004, offers a much more fun, casual and inviting experience. Rather than a special-occasion place, it’s a welcoming spot to gather over incredible food that’s meant to be shared.

The Gathering Table's Local Black Cod with Miso Beurre Blanc, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The Gathering Table’s Local Black Cod with Miso Beurre Blanc, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

We sampled a wide array of tasty dishes, including Hamachi made with avocado and soy-yuzu vinaigrette; sesame Caesar; Hope Ranch mussels with chorizo and garlic toast; pork & shrimp shumai and marinated hanger steak with spicy charred Brussels sprouts. 

The Gathering Table's Hamachi with Avocado & Soy-Yuzu Vinaigrette, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The Gathering Table’s Hamachi with Avocado & Soy-Yuzu Vinaigrette, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The Gathering Table is “meant to be a gathering place for locals and visitors, a fun and inviting place to gather over incredible food,” says Chris. Adds Budi, “The food is flavorful, seasonal and unique, and there’s truly something for everyone.”

The Gathering Table's Octopus Sashimi with Squid Ink Vinaigrette & Spicy Yuzu Aioli, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The Gathering Table’s Octopus Sashimi with Squid Ink Vinaigrette & Spicy Yuzu Aioli, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Built in 1985, Ballard Inn is located at 2436 Baseline Ave. (ballardinn.com) in historic Ballard, just 35 minutes north of Santa Barbara near Solvang.  

The Gathering Table's Grilled Filet Mignon with Maitake Mushrooms, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The Gathering Table’s Grilled Filet Mignon with Maitake Mushrooms, photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Champagne Tasting at First & Oak

La Grande Réserve, Château de Bligny, by Simon Law, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

La Grande Réserve, Château de Bligny, by Simon Law, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Any event at Solvang’s First & Oak is sure to be a treat, and they’re upping their game even further for the holidays with a special Champagne Tasting event on December 10. The event, which runs from 1-3 p.m., includes tastes of ten sparkling wines and champagnes, and light hors d’oeuvres carefully-crafted by First & Oak’s Executive Chef Steven Snook to pair with the wines.

In addition, First & Oak’s Sommelier, Jonathan Rosenson, will be on-hand to lead guests through the exclusive sparkling wine tasting, explaining how each wine sampled showcases specific points in the wide range of flavor profiles, regions and values.

First & Oak Champagne Tasting featured bubbles include:

2004 Dom Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne
2010 Pehu Simonet “Fins Lieux No.1” Blanc de Noirs, Grand Cru, Champagne
2004 Forest Marie Brut Millésimé, Trigny, Champagne

N.V Pierre Peters “Cuvee de Reserve,” Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Champagne
N.V Aubert Et Fils Brut Epernay, Champagne
N.V. Domaine Fouet, “Crémant de Loire,” Brut Rosé Cabernet Franc
2011 Boeckel, “Crémant d’Alsace,” Chardonnay Extra Brut
2009 La Montina Rose Extra Brut, Franciacorta, Italy
2012 Bernhard Riesling Sekt Brut, Germany
2013 Nigl, Sekt Rosé Brut, Kremstal, Austria

The special tasting, which is expected to become an annual event, is $85 per person in advance, or $95 per person at the door (ticket prices exclude tax).  In addition,  a portion of the proceeds ($10 per ticket) will be donated to the Santa Barbara Food Bank.

Reservations for First & Oak’s Champagne Tasting may be made in advance by contacting the restaurant: 805/688.1703 or info@mirabelleinn.com. Limited space available; reservations highly recommended. 

First & Oak is located at 409 First St. (at the corner of Oak Street) in Solvang

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 2, 2016.

 

Cocktail Corner: Celebration of Harvest Weekend

First & Oak is a Perfect Pairing

First & Oak's Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with marinated cucumber, shrimp toast and sesame vinaigrette; and Roasted Lobster with curried carrot puree, Livier's Granola and Vadouvan Veloute. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with marinated cucumber, shrimp toast and sesame vinaigrette; and Roasted Lobster with curried carrot puree, Livier’s Granola and Vadouvan Veloute. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A plethora of perfect bites can be found at Solvang‘s new restaurant, First & Oak. We enjoyed every bit of our meal, from our first taste to the last bite of the exquisite summer menu created by executive chef Steven Snook with owner and sommelier Jonathan Rosenson’s carefully selected pairings of Coquelicot wines.

First & Oak's Truffle Roasted Cauliflower with chive vinaigrette, crisp quinoa and whipped cauliflower. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Truffle Roasted Cauliflower with chive vinaigrette, crisp quinoa and whipped cauliflower. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

That menu, with an emphasis on fresh, wine friendly cuisine under the  headings To Begin, From the Garden, From the Ocean, From the Farm, and To Finish, features small plates so tasty you won’t really want to share them—but just try keeping your dining companions away from these tasty temptations.

The idea is to be able to eat a perfect little bit from each of the categories without feeling overly stuffed. According to the website, “our recommendation is five plates per person which is equivalent to a first and second course, and dessert.”

First & Oak's Short Rib Bourguignon with pearl onions, wild mushrooms, espuma potato and braising jus; English Pea Risotto with brown butter snails, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms; and Roast Breast of Duck with red miso, crispy garbanzo and hazelnut. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Short Rib Bourguignon with pearl onions, wild mushrooms, espuma potato and braising jus; English Pea Risotto with brown butter snails, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms; and Roast Breast of Duck with red miso, crispy garbanzo and hazelnut. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The night we went our meal included a beautifully inventive selection:

  • Heirloom Tomato Tea with fresh thyme, shaved spring vegetables and lemon vinaigrette;
  • Truffle Roasted Cauliflower with chive vinaigrette, crisp quinoa and whipped cauliflower;
  • Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with marinated cucumber, shrimp toast and sesame vinaigrette;
  • Roasted Lobster with curried carrot puree, Livier’s Granola and Vadouvan Veloute;
  • English Pea Risotto with brown butter snails, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms;
  • Short Rib Bourguignon with pearl onions, wild mushrooms, espuma potato and braising jus;
  • Roast Breast of Duck with red miso, crispy garbanzo and hazelnut;
  • Coquelicot Poached Pear, with dulce de Leche Mousse, Peanut Powder and crisp chocolate; and
  • Pain Perdu with carmelized brioche, milk sorbet, balsamic glass and marinated blackberries.

Rosenson paired each course with a special selection from Coquelicot, all of which were lovely, and enhanced the flavors to a tee.

First & Oak's Coquelicot Poached Pear, with dulce de Leche Mousse, Peanut Powder and crisp chocolate; and Pain Perdu with carmelized brioche, milk sorbet, balsamic glass and marinated blackberries. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Coquelicot Poached Pear, with dulce de Leche Mousse, Peanut Powder and crisp chocolate; and Pain Perdu with carmelized brioche, milk sorbet, balsamic glass and marinated blackberries. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

This charming restaurant is clearly a labor of love and also a family affair. Father-son team Bernard and Jonathan Rosenson own the Coquelicot Estate Vineyard in Solvang and purchased the Mirabelle Inn, where First & Oak is located (at 409 First St. in Solvang) in order to showcase their wines and “to create a truly localized restaurant that specializes in local, fresh produce and products from Santa Barbara.”

They have succeeded indeed.

The restaurant is open for dinner daily from 5:30-8:45 p.m. For more information, call 805/6881703 or visit firstandoak.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 29, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Valentine’s Weekend Garagiste Wine Festival

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

2016 Garagiste FestivalWine and romance pair together so well, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend at the fourth annual Garagiste Wine Festival Southern Exposure 2016.

This fun and very unique wine festival takes place Feb. 13-14 at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall in Solvang. In honor of Valentine’s Day weekend, the festival features micro-production local sparkling wines, in addition to handcrafted red and white vintages poured by hard-to-find, cutting-edge commercial artisan garagiste wineries from Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles, Napa and more.

Not only is this an ideal way to try hard-to-find, up-and-coming wines (and meet their makers), proceeds from the event benefit The Garagiste Festival Scholarship Fund at Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

The Los Angeles Times calls this a “wildly exuberant and fun wine event,” and I couldn’t agree more. (Click here for a previous Cocktail Corner about the event.) The event features Grand Tastings of different vintages on both Saturday and Sunday. In addition, each Grand Tasting is preceded by a tasting seminar.

From 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday they’ll be Digging Deep into Mourvedre: This seminar explores different styles of Mourvedre and helps you understand why it is one of the most widely planted varietals in the world. Bob Tillman (Alta Colina Vineyards), Larry Schaffer (Tercero Wines) and Eric Mohsemi (Zaca Mesa Vineyards) will explain the joys of this under-the-radar grape as you taste your way through an amazing array of Mourvedre’s to showcase what this grape brings to the bottle.

Sunday’s seminar, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and sponsored by BubblyFest, is called Rise of the Bubbles – The New Breed of California Sparkling Wine: Start Valentine’s Day off right by tasting some of the exciting new bubbles—white, pink and red—that are being produced by small winemakers in California. You’ll explore the wines of Norm Yost (Goat Bubbles), Tyler Elwell (Halcyon Wines) and Dan Kessler (Kessler-Haak Vineyards).

 “We are proud to continue our mission of bringing the best new garagiste winemakers to our audience and, just as importantly, bringing the story behind the wines straight from the winemakers themselves,” says Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick. “Great wines and great winemakers in the beautiful countryside of the Santa Ynez Valley? We think this is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.”

Launched in Paso Robles in 2011, the nonprofit Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste winemakers, commercial artisan winemakers who handcraft under 1,500 cases a year and pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make. To purchase tickets and for more information, go to: http://garagistefestival.com.

Winemakers scheduled to pour include: Archium Cellars, Ascension Cellars, Baehner Fournier Vineyards, Bevela Wines*, Brophy Clark Cellars, Carucci Wines, The Central Coast Group Project, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Clos des Amis, Coda Wines, Cordon Wines, Dascomb Cellars, El Lugar Wines, Graef Wines, Halcyon Wines*, Iter Wine*, Kessler Haak Vineyard, La Montagne Winery, Larner Vineyard, Levo Wines, Mallea Wines*, MCV Wines, Millesime Cellars*, C. Nagy Wines, Pace Family Wines, Press Gang Cellars, Rhythm Wines*, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Scott Cellars, Seagrape Wines, small + tall wines*, Stirm Wines*, STANGER/JP3, Tercero Wines, Travieso Winery, Trojak-Knier Winery, Weatherborne, West of Temprance* and Workman Ayer.

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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on January 22, 2015.

Editor’s Pick: Bacon and Barrels

Courtesy photo.

What goes better than bacon and wine, bourbon and beer? Dare we say, nothing! Bacon and Barrels is a fabulously decadent event, where you’ll enjoy some of the most delectable bacon dishes from the Central Coast’s best, while mixologists, bacon food trucks, live music, local vendors and a piggy petting zoo make this a day to remember. Buttonwood Farm & Winery, 1500 Alamo Pintado Rd., Solvang. July 17-19. baconandbarrels.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Summer 2015.

—Leslie Dinaberg

News From Over the Hill

What’s Going on in North County This Spring

NFOTH_Featured-Image

Take flight over wine country with Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Courtesy photo.

Craft Beer Month

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine, which is probably why the craft beer movement has exploded in Santa Ynez Valley. Our local wine country celebrates the virtues of beer for the entire month of May, when suds lovers can enjoy an impressive array of out-of-the-ordinary tastings, classes, dinners, demos and more. One of the highlights is the Buellton BrewFest. Featuring more than 50 breweries (and some wineries), life-sized beer pong, food trucks and three live bands, this fun festival is sure to sell out, so buy your tickets early. | Santa Ynez Valley Craft Beer Month, May 1–31, various locations, visitsyv.com/craft-beer-month. Buellton BrewFest, Riverview Park, 151 Sycamore Dr., Buellton, May 9, VIP 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; general admission, 12:30–4 p.m., buelltonbrewfest.com.

38530005

Cowboy entertainer Dave Stamey appears in Tales from the Tavern at the Maverick Saloon, courtesy of Dave Stamey.

Tales From the Tavern

Come hunker down at Maverick Saloon, Santa Barbara County’s quintessential cowboy bar, for the tavern’s annual concert series. Dave Stamey, who True West Magazine named the “Best Living Western Solo Musician,” takes the stage on March 11. This cowboy, mule packer, dude wrangler has delighted audiences in 14 states and says that he prefers this to being stomped by angry horses. Jamaican-born reggae singer-songwriter Owen Plant and Brother Sun play on March 25; then musician, rancher, storyteller and Canadian icon Ian Tyson tells his tales in a special Thursday night performance on April 16. Wrapping up the spring season on April 29 is American musical legend Janis Ian, who began her professional life at 12 years old and is probably best known for hits like “Society’s Child,” “At Seventeen” and “Between the Lines.” Fun fact: Ian was the very first musical guest on the debut broadcast of Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975. | Maverick Saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-0383, talesfromthetavern.com.

Ballooning

One of the best ways to enjoy the valley is to go up, up and away in a hot air balloon with Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Flights capture beautiful views over the wine country surrounded by transverse mountain ranges, the Channel Islands, Lake Cachuma and the historic towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, Buellton, Santa Maria and Paso Robles. A variety of packages are available, including one that includes wine tasting at vineyards such as Bedford, Alma Rosa, Rusack, Brander, Carhartt, Bridlewood, Dierberg and Blair Fox. | Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures, Santa Ynez Valley Airport, 900 Airport Rd., Santa Ynez, 760/602-0295, santabarbaraballoonrides.com.

FW-_-the-union-color

Craft Beer Month in May is an excellent time to taste small batch beers, courtesy Firestone Walker Brewing.

The Penelopiad

Margaret Atwood’s new stage adaptation of her wry, witty and wise novella The Penelopiad is a reimagining of the ancient story of the Trojan War, Helen of Troy and Odysseus, told from the point of view of Penelope (perhaps the first desperate housewife to appear in art). She fends off the attentions of greedy suitors, as traveling minstrels regale her with the news of Odysseus’s epic adventures around the Mediterranean, only to have him repay her devotion with heart-wrenching ruthlessness. This PCPA (Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts) production runs March 5–22. | Severson Theatre, Allan Hancock College Campus, 1100 S. Bradley, Santa Maria, 805/922-8313, pcpa.org.

2014-Taste-of-Solvang-Dessert-Winner-Amateur-Lana-Clarks-Coconut-Delights-photo-credit-Liz-Dodder

Taste the best of Solvang this March, photo by Liz Dodder.

Taste of Solvang

There’s always something delicious going on in Solvang, but they really bring out all the stops at this annual event. Now in its 23rd year, Taste of Solvang offers a menu—from farm-to-table rustic Italian cuisine to new American and modern Danish fare, plus desserts in all forms, award-winning beers and world-class wines—that’s sure to please every palate. This year’s highlights include Farmers Market Chef Walks led by Chef Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn & Restaurant, Chef David Cecchini of Cecco Ristorante and Chef James Owens of The Bistro at Hadsten House; Bubbles and Brunch at Wildling Museum; a Winemaker Dinner with Michael Larner of Larner Vineyard & Winery and Bacon & Brine’s Chef Pink; plus sips and sweets, the Solvang Wine and Beer Walk, the Grand Tasting with treats from more than 30 businesses and much, much more! | March 18–22, various locations throughout Solvang. 805/688-6144, solvangusa.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.