Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

This weekend is the 36th Anniversary of Santa Barbara Wine Country’s Vintners Festival on Saturday, April 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the beautiful River Park in Lompoc (CA-246 & Sweeney Rd., Lompoc).

The festival is a wonderful opportunity to taste a prestigious list of wines from more than 100 local wineries and savor delicious bites from a bevy of local foragers, farmers, and restaurants. In addition to the beautiful setting, there’s also live music and culinary demos throughout the day, as well as Bubba, the prized Parker Ranch bull of The Bear and Star, the excellent Los Olivos restaurant specializing in “refined ranch cuisine” that is intrinsically intertwined with the 714-acre Fess Parker Home Ranch.

Festival attendees will have the opportunity to meet Bubba and learn how the team at The Bear and Star and its celebrated Chef John Cox sources farm to table from their own ranch, including fresh produce, wagyu beef, chicken, rabbit, and duck. Alongside that, The Bear and Star will get your mouth watering with their 30’ smoker where they will showcase Smoked Wagyu Beef Albondigas with Guajillo Chile and Queso Fresco.

Bubba is the prized Parker Ranch bull of The Bear and Star, a Los Olivos restaurant offering a “refined ranch cuisine” that is intrinsically intertwined with the 714 acre Fess Parker Home Ranch. Courtesy photo.

Bubba is the prized Parker Ranch bull of The Bear and Star, a Los Olivos restaurant offering a “refined ranch cuisine” that is intrinsically intertwined with the 714 acre Fess Parker Home Ranch. Courtesy photo.

Additional food purveyors include:

555 Bar and Lounge “By Marriott”
Bara’s Fresh Almond Pate
Biker Spice
Black Bow Sweets
Bottlest Winery, Bar & Bistro
Brasserie Solera
California Coast Naturals
Cattaneo Brothers
Cecco Ristorante
Central Coast Specialty Foods
Frankland’s Crab & Co.
Heritage Fine Meats & Sausage
Hippy Pop
Hitching Post II
il Fustino
Imlakesh Organics
Industrial Eats & New West Catering
Jessica Foster Confections
Le Sorelle Imports
Leonardo’s Cucina Italiana
Lori’s Lemonade
Los Olivos Olive Oil and Olive House
Mesa Salsa Company
Quality Time Dinner
Santa Barbara Popcorn Co.
Santa Rita Organic Farm
SB Paella Catering
Scratch Kitchen & Bar
Solvang Olive Press
Succulent Café
Suro Cha Inc
Three Flies On A Knife
Valle Eatery
Valley Grind Coffee
Winfield Farm

Some of the tasty bites available at the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival. Courtesy photos.

Some of the tasty bites available at the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival. Courtesy photos.

Participating wineries include:

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Ampelos cellars
​Au Bon Climat
Babcock Winer & Vineyards
Baehner Fournier
Bernat Winery
Bien Nacido & Solomon HIlls
Brander Vineyard
Brick Barn Wine Estate 
​Bridlewood Estate Winery
Brophy Clark Cellars
Buttonwood Farm Winery
Ca’ Del Grevino Estate and Winery
Carr Winery
Casa Dumetz
Clos Pepe Estate
Cambria Winery
Chamisal Vineyards
Cnagy wines
Coquelicot Estate Wines
CrossHatch Winery
Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards
Dragonette Cellars
Ferguson Crest
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
Fiddlehead Cellars
Flying Goat Cellars
FOXEN and foxen 7200
Gainey Vineyard
Grace & Vine
Grassini Family Vineyards
​Hilliard Bruce
Hitching Post Wines
Imagine Wine
Jaffurs Wine Cellars
Jamie Slone Wines
J. Wilkes
Kaena Wine Company
Ken Brown Wines
Lieu Dit Winery
Lions Peak Vineyards
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
Lumen Wines
Malene Wines
Margerum Wine Company
Martian Ranch & Vineyard
Melville Winery
Montemar Wines
Municipal Winemakers
​Pence Vineyards & Winery
​Qupé Wine Cellars
Rancho Sisquoc
Refugio Ranch Vineyards
Roblar Winery
Rusack Vineyards
​Sanford Winery & Vineyards
Santa Barbara Winery
Stolpman Vineyards
Sweetzer Cellars
Temperance Cellars
​The Central Coast Group Project
Toccata wines
Toretti Family Vineyard 
Tyler Winery
Zaca Mesa Winery

This year’s festival also includes the Bubble Lounge, a unique and playful opportunity to enjoy a bubble machine and DIY bubble bottles! Sip on world-class bubbles while you blow some bubbles into the wind to melt your cares away. The line-up includes:

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
Flying Goat Cellars
Imagine Wine
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
Municipal Winemakers
Pence Vineyards & Winery
Riverbench Winery
Sanford Winery & Vineyards

The Rent Party Blues, one of the top blues bands in California, performs alongside another local favorite, The Bryan Titus Trio.

Can’t get enough of Santa Barbara County wines? This weekend you can also visit up to 12 tasting rooms on an all-inclusive wine tasting pass with a Vintners Visa Wine Country Tasting Pass  for unique and complimentary offerings at your choice of twelve participating tasting rooms from Thursday – Monday.  Over 40+ wineries and tasting rooms are participating in this program. An opportunity that is truly unsurpassable.

Need a bit more incentive? The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation also has a silent auction that benefits the Enology/viticulture program at Allan Hancock College ( ) as well as  and its medical relief activities at home and around the globe. Local vintners are digging deep into their cellars as well as creating unique private events to compile an unprecedented offering of auction lots for this year’s Santa Barbara Vintners Festival Silent Auction. Only Vintners Festival Grand Tasting attendees will have access to the array of unique wine lots including over two dozen impressive large format bottles such as a double magnum of Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills and a 5 Liter bottle of Qupe 2013 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard “Hillside” Estate.  Among the one-of-a-kind collections will be a 6 bottle sampler displayed in an engraved wooden box from Kenneth Volk Vineyards. Bidders will also be able to access private events including a private tour and tasting for 4 at Presqu’ile Winery’s beautiful hilltop winery overlooking the Santa Maria Valley and a private vineyard tour, tasting and lunch for 4 at Martian Ranch & Vineyard. Proceeds from the silent auction will provide scholarships for two Allan Hancock Enology/viticulture students as well as a grant to the Enology/viticulture department.

“In addition, this year we are working to raise money to support Direct Relief in the replenishment of their First Responder Backpacks. Participants will have an opportunity to donate directly towards the items to fill these kits, many of which were used during Direct Relief’s response to the Thomas fire and Montecito mudslide in recent months. Visiting the Silent Auction pavilion is a great way to get your hands on some great wines as well as support the community,” says Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation President, Elaina Kroll. 

For more information about the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, go to

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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

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

Local Dish: Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week returns Jan. 21-27 to showcase wine country restaurants at once-a-year prices.  Back for the eighth consecutive year, Restaurant Week features three-course meals prepared by the Valley’s most creative chefs for just $20.18 Foodies can savor a rare value to celebrate the food and wine pairings that have made this region a gem in California Wine Country.

Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, 26 restaurants—ranging from the region’s emerging establishments to long-time favorites—will participate in Restaurant Week this year. The list includes a Puerto Rican-inspired menu at Industrial Eats in Buellton, which is donating 100% of the proceeds to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

This year’s list of participating restaurants includes:


The Ballard Inn & Gathering Table, 2436 Baseline Ave., 800/638-2466



Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, Bottle Branding photo.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, Bottle Branding photo.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, 35 Industrial Way, 805/686-4742

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.,45 Industrial Way, 805/694-2252

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 620 McMurray Rd., 805/697-4777

Hitching Post II, 406 E. Hwy 246, 805/688-0676

Industrial Eats, 181 Industrial Way, 805/688-8807

Los Alamos

Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, 550 Bell St., 805/344-3000

Plenty on Bell, 508 Bell St., 805/344-3020

Valle Fresh, 380 Bell St., 805/865-2282

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

Los Olivos

The Bear and Star, 2860 Grand Ave., 805/6861359

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 2879 Grand Ave., 805/688-7265

The romantic S.Y. Kitchen Firepit at Night , Photo by Rocco Ceselin.

The romantic S.Y. Kitchen Firepit at Night , Photo by Rocco Ceselin.

Santa Ynez

The Lucky Hen Larder, 1095 Meadowvale Rd., 805/691-9448

S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., 805/691-9794

The Vineyard House, 3631 Sagunto St., 805/688-2886

Trattoria Grappolo, 3687 Sagunto St., 805/688-6899


Cecco Ristorante, 475 1st St., 805/688-8880

First & Oak, 409 1st St., 805/688-1703

Fresco Valley Café, 442 Atterdag Rd., 805/688-8857

Leonardo’s Ristorante, 632 Alamo Pintado Rd., 805/686-0846

Mad & Vin at The Landsby, 1576 Mission Dr., 805/688-3121

Petros Kafe, 487 Atterdag Rd., 805/686-5455

Root 246, 420 Alisal Rd., 805/686-8681

Santa Ynez Café, 606 Alamo Pintado Rd. #1, Solvang, 805/688-3543

Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Dr., 805/688-2337

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie, 1555 Mission Dr., 805/691-9444

The Ridge, 1618 Copenhagen Dr., 805/325-9820

For the latest updates on Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week, including menus and dining hours, visit

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 20, 2018.

Local Dish: The Bear and Star Chef’s Table

Guest Chef Vartan Abgaryan of critically acclaimed restaurant 71 Above in Los Angeles (left) joins the Bear and Star Chef John Cox on Tuesday, January 16 for a special Chef's Table dinner. Courtesy photos.

Guest Chef Vartan Abgaryan of critically acclaimed restaurant 71 Above in Los Angeles (left) joins the Bear and Star Chef John Cox on Tuesday, January 16 for a special Chef’s Table dinner. Courtesy photos.

The Bear and Star‘s next installment in their popular Chef’s Table Dinner series features Guest Chef Vartan Abgaryan of critically acclaimed restaurant 71 Above in downtown Los Angeles and takes place on Tuesday, January 16, with two seatings at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Dinner begins with an Amuse – Oyster with Uni, Caviar, Tarragon, Champagne and Parsnip Crème Brûlée; followed by a First of Beet with Tofu, Huckleberry and Black Walnut; then a Second of Sturgeon with Soy Pearls, Black Garlic, Crispy Skin and Finger Lime; Third course of Lasagna with Porcini, Pistachio and White Truffle; Fourth of Turbo with Potato, Leek, Vin Jaune, Meyer Lemon and Smoked Clams; followed by a Fifth of Oxtail with Bone Marrow, Horseradish and Red Sorrel. To finish for a Sixth and final course, guests will enjoy Chocolate with Coffee, Caramel and Pecan. Wine pairings are available for the dinner by The Bear and Star’s General Manager Robert Williams.

The Bear and Star’s Chef Room, photo by Kodiak Greenwood.

The Bear and Star’s Chef Room, photo by Kodiak Greenwood.

Chef Abgaryan, a native Angeleno, was formally trained at Le Cordon Bleu, mentoring at the iconic André Soltner restaurant, Lutèce. He returned to Los Angeles to lead the kitchens of acclaimed restaurateur Tim Goodell’s Red Pearl Kitchen, ‘A’ Restaurant, and Public Kitchen. For the next three years, Abgaryan served as executive chef at Cliff’s Edge Restaurant to great critical acclaim. LA Weekly’s restaurant critic Besha Rodell wrote, “Abgaryan’s food is composed above all else—the chef focuses as much on visual beauty as on taste.”

In 2015, Chef Abgaryan joined forces with Emil Eyvazoff to debut a new, world-class dining destination on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower. At 950 feet above ground level, 71Above is the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi. Offering elevated modern American cuisine, 71Above boasts breathtaking ocean views from Malibu to Laguna Hills, along with spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin and the surrounding mountain ranges. In addition to the magnificent views, 71Above was designed to provide a number of varying dining experiences. Guests may choose to dine within the buzz of the bar or in our adjacent lively main dining room. The Chef’s tables offer views of the open kitchen and transition into a semi-private dining area, offering a quieter and more intimate dining environment.

For reservations, call 805/686-1359 to prepay by credit card or visit Eventbrite for tickets.

Mark your calendars for upcoming guest chef collaborations:

February 25—Chef Neal Fraser, Redbird, Los Angeles

March 21—Chef Josiah Citrin, Melisse, Santa Monica

The Bear and Star is located at 2860 Grand Ave., Los Olivos.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 9, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Toasting the New Year

Local favorite band King Bee performs at Dargan's on New Year's Eve, courtesy photo.

Local favorite band King Bee performs at Dargan’s on New Year’s Eve, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to the New Year!  By Leslie Dinaberg

There’s no shortage of great ways to ring in the New Year in Santa Barbara County! Here are a few options to start 2018 off in style:

King Bee at Dargan’s, courtesy photo.

King Bee Dance Party at Dargan’s

One of my favorite local bands, King Bee, performs a rare New Year’s Eve at Dargan’s. They’ll have a full menu available, including a champagne toast and a filet and shrimp special, as well as loads of dancing and loads of fun! This is a ticket-only event ($10), with limited dinner seating.

Dargan’s is located at 18. E. Ortega St. in downtown Santa Barbara. For more information, click here.

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

The Bear and Star’s Jazzy Celebration

The Bear and Star, Los Olivos’ hot new restaurant, which has been quickly embraced by food lovers for Chef John Cox‘s inspired, refined ranch cuisine, celebrates New Year’s Eve with a lively jazz quartet reminiscent of bygone days and a five-course menu.

Begin the evening with a flute of complimentary Fesstivity Rosé Sparkling Wine and Sunny Side Quail Egg, Black River Caviar and Tater Tot; followed by a Spicy Winter Greens with Smoked Lamb Bacon, Caramelized Apple and Pomegranate Vinaigrette; then a course of Shrimp & Grits with Santa Barbara Spot Prawn and Stone Ground Grits. The main course is a Petite Wagyu Filet with Cast Iron Sunchoke Hash, Brussels Sprouts and Bone Marrow Bordelaise. Top off the evening with Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake with Fuyu Persimmon and Speculose. Pricing for the prix-fix New Year’s Eve Dinner is $95 per person, with optional pairings by General Manager and Sommelier Robert Williams offered at $50 per guest.

For reservations, call The Bear and Star (2860 Grand Ave., Los Olivos) at 805/688-7788 or visit

Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

New Year’s Eve 1920s Countdown Party at the Goodland

Party like its 1920 at Goleta’s Goodland and Outpost restaurant’s 1920s inspired countdown party! Wear your best flapper dress or pinstripe suit  and get into the speakeasy spirit. General admission tickets are $10, which gets you access to Goodbar and a champagne toast at midnight. VIP tickets are $20, which includes access to Goodbar and an exclusive speakeasy with a specialty welcome cocktail, passed appetizers specially a live jazz band and DJ, and a champagne toast at midnight.

The Goodland is located at 5650 Calle Real, Goleta. For tickets, go to

DJ Darla Bea, courtesy photo.

DJ Darla Bea will spin into the wee hours on the rooftop at the Canary, courtesy photo.

Get Glitzed & Glammed Then Get Down at Finch & Fork and the Canary this New Year’s Eve

Kick off the New Year in style with dinner at Finch & Fork, where Executive Chef James Siao prepares a tasteful a la carte menu with specials set to festive décor and served with a champagne toast. Guests can also ring in the New Year by taking part in Finch & Fork’s New Year’s Eve tradition, where from 11 p.m.-midnight they’ll be serving complimentary passed bites and offering a midnight toast. Reservations: 805/879-9100

After dinner, head to the Canary’s rooftop for spectacular views and, starting at 9 p.m., the Canary’s Glitz, Glam & Get Down rooftop celebration, which includes a welcome cocktail, midnight toast and sweet bites from Finch & Fork. DJ Darla Bea will be spinning and setting the tone for the New Year! Tickets to the Glitz, Glam & Get Down party at Canary are $110, and can be purchased at

 The Canary and Finch & Fork are located in downtown Santa Barbara at 31 West Carrillo St. Call 805/879-9100 for reservations.

Champagne, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Champagne, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Ring in the New Year at S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez 

In dedication to the rich provisions found in the Central Coast, Chef Luca Crestanelli and his brother, Sous Chef Francesco, have planned a bountiful and elegant dinner to celebrate New Year’s Eve. 

In addition to S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu, start the evening off with a platter of freshly-shucked Kumamoto Oysters with Mignonette; or a Dungeness Crab Salad with Frisée, Mushroom, Green Apple and Pomegranate. For the Pasta course, try Francesco’s hand-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragout and Pecorino Romano. Main courses include fresh Wood-Fired Roasted Orata with Saffron-Braised Fennel, Tomato Confit and Roasted Castelvetrano Olives; and a tender Wood-Oven Grilled Delmonico Steak with Porcini Mushrooms, Polenta and Black Truffles. Finish the evening with an extraordinary Italian Tortino al Cioccolato crafted by Francesco Crestanelli.

Optional wine suggestions by Sommelier Bingo Wathen are also available by the glass or bottle, featuring Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut; Araldica Barbaresco 2014; and Ronco del Gelso Pinot Grigio 2015. The holiday menu items are offered à la carte and are meant to be enjoyed alongside other seasonal offerings and signature dishes from S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu.

S.Y. Kitchen is located at 1110 Faraday St. in Santa Ynez.  For reservations, call 805/691-9794. 

Chumash Casino Resort New Year’s Eve Dance Party featuring The Boogie Knights and The Spazmatics

Fill your New Year’s Eve with flashbacks from the 1970s and ’80s as you dance the night—and the year—away at the Chumash Casino.

The party kicks off at 9 p.m. in the Samala Showroom and is free for all Club Indulge members. The Boogie Knights were originally formed in 1992 as a Halloween gag in Los Angeles. Almost overnight, the group took the live music scene by storm. Complete with choreography, polyester, afros and bell bottoms, The Boogie Knights have been proclaimed “The greatest disco revival show in the world.” You can expect to hear covers from Disco sensations such as Heatwave, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, The Bee Gees, Kool and the Gang, the Village People, Rick James and Earth, Wind and Fire.

When The Spazmatics take the stage, you’ll find yourself feeling right back in the 1980s. Complete with skinny ties, brylcreem hair, and horn-rimmed glasses, The Spazmatics deliver the ultimate new wave ‘80s show. The band specializes in music from favorites such as Duran Duran, Men at Work, The Knack, Thomas Dolby, Men Without Hats and Devo.

The Chumash Casino is located  at 3400 Hwy. 246 in Santa Ynez, Tickets for all events are available at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Club Indulge or online at 

For even more New Year’s Eve celebration ideas, Visit Santa Barbara has compiled a great list. Go here to to get the scoop!

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 22, 2017.

Local Lowdown: The Dish on Santa Ynez Valley’s New Eateries

Bacon & Brine burger by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Bacon & Brine burger by Tenley Fohl Photography.

From refined ranch cooking to gourmet burgers and creative couplings of unexpected ingredients to upscale wine country cuisine, the Santa Ynez Valley has a host of terrific new places to dine out and indulge in this summer.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Beer & (Big) Bites in Buellton

“The Kitchen” at FigMtnBrew is now open and, as Executive Chef Brian Champlin vows, this place definitely has, as he modestly states, “under-promised and over-delivered!” The eatery now offers a full menu of beer-friendly gastropub fare such as creative burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, tacos, salads and more. Our group particularly loved the 21+ and over grilled cheese, Davy Brown nachos and chorizo cheese fries—but honestly, everything that came out of the kitchen was delicious, especially paired with craft beers like Fig Mtn Mosaic and Paradise Rd. Pilsner.

Jeff Hawxhurst, left, and Brian Champlin of The Kitchen at FigMtnBrew, courtesy photo.

Jeff Hawxhurst, left, and Brian Champlin of The Kitchen at FigMtnBrew, courtesy photo.

“We wanted to provide top-notch food with great prices,” says General Manager Jeff Hawxhurst, a longtime local chef who started his career as a teenager working at the original Habit in Goleta and most recently worked with the Chumash Casino Resort. “The casual environment helps us keep prices affordable while offering fresh farm-to-table cuisine.”

Champlin also has impressive foodie credentials, most recently as co-owner and executive chef of Succulent Café in Solvang. Taking the farm-to-table concept up a notch, “Our brewery actually gives our spent grain to a local farm who then feeds it to their cattle. We are then able to serve the local beef on our menu. It’s a sustainable cycle that ensures we know what’s in our food and where it is coming from. We call it ‘brewery-to-farm-to-table’ cuisine.” The Kitchen, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, 45 Industrial Way, Buellton,

Refining Ranch Cuisine at The Bear and Star

The Bear and Star (a nod to patriarch Fess Parker’s California and Texas roots) gets its culinary inspiration from the 714-acre Fess Parker Home Ranch located seven miles away, where 75 head of Wagyu cattle are raised and finished with the spent grains and pomace from the family brewery and winery, along with chickens, quail, rabbits, pigs, bees and a number of heirloom fruits and organic vegetables.

The Bear and Star by Kodiak Greenwood.

The Bear and Star by Kodiak Greenwood.

This impressive ecosystem was developed under Chef/Partner John Cox’s passion and vision. Also integral to the restaurant is a 30’ custom reverse-flow Texas smoker that he specially designed for slow smoking and barbecuing many of the dishes. Cox, formerly with Sierra Mar at Big Sur’s renowned Post Ranch Inn, has created an inventive ranch-inspired menu offering lunch and dinner items like Wagyu Fries with garden herb aioli; deviled ranch eggs with Santa Barbara urchin and espelette; fried green tomatoes with “cheese wiz” and BBQ spice; Parker Ranch Wagyu burger with smoked cheddar, tomato jam and butter pickles; crispy catfish with re-fried black-eyed-peas and “blackened” smoked tomato sauce; Wagyu meat loaf with potato puree, garden vegetables and pan jus; Parker Ranch chile with cheddar, chives and cornbread crouton; local stuffed quail with farro risotto, bay laurel and red wine demi glace; and an array of steaks, ribeyes and filets, among other items.

Highlights for breakfast are dishes of cheddar biscuit and country gravy; steel cut oatmeal brûlée with local blueberries and caramelized palm sugar; and smoked Wagyu hash with farm eggs, root vegetables and lemon-thyme hollandaise.

The Parker family’s acclaimed wines are prominently featured and the offerings also showcase expressive small-production wines from Santa Barbara County’s most sought-after wineries, and beyond, as well as a stunning
wine-walled private dining room. The Bear and Star, Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn, 2860 Grand Ave., Los Olivos, 805/686-1359,

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro

Already offering one of the most unique wine-tasting experiences in California—with its expansive “Wine Wall” of 52 constantly changing wines available by the taste, half glass or full glass—the new Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro has stepped up its cuisine tremendously, with a new restaurant concept from Executive Chef Owen Hanavan, the former Head Chef of Barbareño, whose culinary résumé includes time spent at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara and the Michelin-starred COI Restaurant in San Francisco.

Utilizing a bounty of locally sourced organic produce, meats and fish, a recent sampling of Chef Owen’s creations was so delicious that it’s hard to name a favorite dish. Definitely high on my list are the beautifully plated “Sixteen Spiced Pork Shoulder” (with almond rice pilaf, date glaze, romanesco broccoli and lemon oil), melt-in-your-mouth New York strip (with sousbise, duck fat potato, chimichurri and crispy leeks) and yellowtail (with poached tuna, rice cracker, nori vinaigrette and micro cilantro). In addition to the elevated evening cuisine, the lunch and midday menus include a variety of small plates (the lamb meatballs on housemade potato chips are divine), as well as sandwiches, salads and pizzas sure to please every palate.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, photo by Bottle Branding.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, photo by Bottle Branding.

Also a crowd pleaser is the view of Terravant Winery’s popular custom-crush facility, which shares the space with Bottlest Bistro and the soon-to-be-launched online wine experience, where you can craft your own wine (and labels) from start to finish, based on a sliding scale of personal preferences. For more information, visit Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro, 35 Industrial Way, Buellton, 805/686-4742,

Blissful Bellies at Bacon & Brine

Hyper local culinary entrepreneurs Chef Pink and Courtney Rae DeLongpré’s Bacon & Brine sits at the top of the ever-evolving Santa Ynez Valley food chain. This delicious addition to the Solvang scene opened last summer to eager fans and customers of the duo’s previous sandwich shop. With guidance from Chef Pink, we ate our way through much of the menu, an impressive gastronomic collection of delights that evidence the couple’s full commitment to utilizing local organic vegetables and organic grass-fed pasture-raised animals. In fact, none of their food items come from more than 10 miles away, except spices and seasonings, which are all fair-trade.

Bacon & Brine by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Bacon & Brine by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Beef, chicken and vegetarian options mingle with the pork menu items (all of the cattle and poultry come from Shadow Creek Ranch, a small Santa Ynez Valley farm), but the flavors are even more impressive than the menu’s provenance. Our favorites include Korean Fried Chicken (KFC), “The Hipster” sandwich (buttermilk fried chicken, shredded lettuce, pickle and aioli on a doughnut bun), the kimchi burger (wagyu beef, bacon, housemade “legit” kimchi, farm egg, chives and bacon aioli), fried Brussels sprouts, roasted beets and the to-die-for salted caramel bacon doughnuts.

Chef Pink, the “bacon” half of this business, is a 17-year food and restaurant industry veteran who has worked with California chefs and restaurants stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco, as well as in New York and Paris kitchens. She’s also a bit of TV food celebrity, appearing on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and FYI’s Man vs. Child.

The “brine” half of “Bacon & Brine” is Courtney Rae DeLongpré, a proponent of healthy eating with a passion for food, nutrition and small-scale homesteading, which led to her studies of traditional old-world food preparations, segueing to her fermentation craft.

“We want to share with the surrounding community our personal mix: fine dining techniques using local ingredients and our use of fermentation to create flavor profiles, which let those ingredients shine,” says Chef Pink. “I’m meshing my years of training as a proper chef, with our philosophies of hyper-local organic, whole, sustainable food systems…and my love of, and allegiance to, a great food experience that’s accessible to everyone.” Bacon & Brine, 1618 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, 805/688-8809, Hours vary by season.  

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

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History‘s beloved wine festival, and they are commemorating the event with a new name—the Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival—which more accurately reflects the bounty of sips and bites found at this signature fundraiser.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

While the food and the wine have always flowed freely at the festival, this year events manager Meridith Moore has set a goal to have 50 food vendors on the roster this year to accompany the 50 wineries. “My hope is that the name change will help to attract even more of Santa Barbara county’s incredible food vendors and highlight the ones that have been participating all these years,” she says.

As of press time, food vendors include: BarbarenoBenchmarkBob’s Well BreadBrophy Bros.Buena OndaCa’ DarioCoffee Bean and Tea LeafChooket/Your Cake Baker, Corazon CocinaCountry CateringFarmer BoyFinch and Fork RestaurantGelson’s ~ Santa BarbaraHelena Avenue BakeryHippypopIl FustinoIndustrial EatsLa MousseLa SorelleLoquitaMichael’s CateringMr. E’s FreezeMulberry LovePacific Pickle WorksPicoRenaud’s Patissiere and Bakery , Slate Catering CoSolvang BakeryThe Bear and StarThe Berry ManTondi GelatoVia Maestra 42 and Whole Foods Santa Barbara.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

Wineries pouring this year include: Alexander & WayneAlma RosaAndrew Murray VineyardsArea 5.1Arthur Earl WineryAu Bon ClimatBabcock WineryBeckmen VineyardsBedford WineryBlair FoxBrander VineyardBrewer-CliftonButtonwoodByron by NielsonCa Del GrevinoCambriaCarr Vineyards and WineryCasa DumetzCebada, ConsilienceCORECrawford Family WinesDierbergDe PaolaEpiphany CellarsFalcone Family VineyardsFeliz NocheFess Parker Winery & VineyardFiddlehead Cellars,

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Food & Wine Festival.

Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival.

Flying Goat CellarsFoxenGainey VineyardsGrassini Family VineyardsHilliard BruceJaffurs Wine CellarsJamie SloneKalyraKen Brown WinesKenneth Volk VineyardsKoehler WineryKuninLaFond WineryLarner WinesLongoriaLoring Wine CompanyLumenMargerum Wine CompanyMelvilleMosby Winery & VineyardMunicipal WinemakersNotary Public WinesOreanaPalminaPoint ConcepcionPotekPure Order Brewing CompanyQupéRancho Sisquoc WineryRefugio RanchRideauSagebrush Annie’sSanta Barbara WinerySilver WinesSpear WineryStar Lane VineyardSunstone WineryTablas CreekTatomerTercero WinesThird Window BrewingToucan WinesTranscendence WinesVogelzangWhitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa.

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta del Sol) are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Especially when the proceeds go to support the work of the museum. The event takes place on Saturday, June 24.

Guests 21 and older may purchase admission on the Museum’s website ( This event is always a sellout, so if you want to join in the fun, act quickly or you not get tickets.

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

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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 June 2, 2017.