Sommelier Q & A Wine Wisdom

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html.

Local experts share their insider knowledge.

By LESLIE DINABERG

Wine has become synonymous with the Central Coast—but that doesn’t necessarily
mean it’s easy to navigate the plethora of local producers, not to mention the
bottles that find their way here from distant vineyards. Luckily, there’s never a shortage
of skilled vino veterans, like those here, ready to offer some purchasing pointers.

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Paolo Barbieri, owner, winemaker, Barbieri Wine Company, Los Olivos, barbieriwines.com, Master Sommelier

Paolo Barbieri was born in Parma, Italy, and spent more than 30 years working in the restaurant business, managing numerous world-class wine lists in Europe and later in the United States. With the help of longtime friend and winemaker Joey Tensley, Barbieri started Barbieri Wine Company, producing 375 cases in 2005 from Colson Canyon Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. Co-owner and assistant winemaker Erin Kempe joined the business in 2007, and today the couple, now married, produce single vineyard wines and some blends under the Barbieri and Kempe wine labels.

What are some of the best local wine buys for people on a budget?

Some of the local rosés together with European whites like albarino, vermentino. Also gamay and grenache represent good values.

If money were no object, which wines from this area would you recommend?

Even though Santa Rita Hills gets the most attention for the pinot noirs and chardonnays, I think Rhône varietals, especially syrah and grenache, are very high-quality options.

What’s the most surprisingly good wine and food combination you’ve tried recently?

Saumur-Champigny, which is a cabernet franc from [France’s] Loire Valley, paired with foie gras and roasted potatoes, black truffles, and pancetta.

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Koen Masschelein, director of food and beverage, certified sommelier Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, fourseasons.com/westlakevillage

Koen Masschelein previously held the position of director of food and beverage at Four Seasons Sydney, Australia. His career in the international hospitality industry has also taken him to Manila, Singapore, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, New York, and Paris.

Who are some of your local wine heroes?

The pioneers, people that set out to discover and do the hard work so a lot of others could step in the path they created. Everyone knows the big names of the Northern California areas but some time from now, there’ll be a lot to say about our local pioneers as well. A hundred years ago, there was wine that was grown here but only recently modern viticulture kicked in, and I tip my hat to everyone doing their thing now as it is not the glamorous career aspiration a lot of us think it is. It’s hard work!

What local chefs are using wine in interesting ways?

Not enough. I feel like the focus in the area is more on the rise of craft breweries and beers than on wine, but it is growing. With the increasing number of good eateries, more wine comes into play as well. There remains a lot to be said about the local Malibu wine scene—which does not get enough attention—growing year after year, and they definitely deserve it. Our own chefs here at Coin & Candor, Jose Fernandez and Jesus Medina, really do appreciate a good wine pairing, so we’re off to a good start.

What local wines or winemakers are you most excited about right now?

Villa Creek is one out of Paso Robles. I also came across an Aja Vineyards 2012 Shiraz recently and was blown away by the quality of that wine. We’ll have it on pour by the glass very soon here at the hotel.

What are people from Old World wine regions most surprised to learn about wines from the Central Coast?

The fact that there are so many wineries here. Very little of it makes it out, practically none overseas, so you get to see, taste, and try very little of it until you are in the 805 area. But as always, it’s the people that make the wine and we have a bunch of really passionate and energetic people here, so when you get to try some of the individual growers, people are convinced of the quality and potential.

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Ali Rush Carscaden, owner, certified advanced sommelier, 15c Wine Shop and Bar, Templeton, 15degreescwines.com

Ali Rush Carscaden got her start with a job in the tasting room at Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles and later, armed with a master’s degree in agriculture, worked in sales for Eberle Winery, also in Paso, and as a fine wine specialist for the Henry Wine Group. She founded 15c Wine Shop and Bar in 2007 and enjoys leading special trips to France and Spain to enjoy the fruits of her passion’s labor.

Who are some of your local wine heroes?

I am a huge fan and supporter of females in the industry, including Jordan Fiorentini, an amazing winemaker for Epoch Estate Wines. She is sweet and humble with an amazing energy and charisma. Amy Butler, affectionately known as Calamity Jane, is a winemaker for her own label, Ranchero Cellars, and is also a very sought-after consulting winemaker for many labels. Stephanie Terrizzi, a mother of twins and viticulturist, also has an incredible fresh pasta shop called Etto Pastificio in Tin City. All these women are very driven, successful, and manage to balance life including families, work, and health.

What are some unique wine-education or wine-pairing experiences you would recommend to people in this area?

I teach a six-week wine-university wine-education course that goes over all the major wine regions of the world and includes blind tastings and food pairings. Ian Adamo at Somm’s Kitchen does a great job, as well as my friend Jenna Congdon, who does pop-up wine school classes at SLO Provisions on Sundays. Also, by appointment only, L’Aventure Winery does a great food pairing and tasting.

How is wine being used with food in interesting ways locally?

At 15c we do some pretty fun pizza and wine pairings as well as our drunken mushroom dish cooked in a wine reduction. Also, we do a frosé—a frozen rosé slushy.

If money were no object, which wines from this area would you recommend?

Ledge reds, Scar of the Sea single vineyard varieties, El Lugar Pinot Noir, Tablas Creek Esprit, and The Farm Cardinal.

What’s the most surprisingly good wine and food combination you’ve tried recently?

I was in Málaga and tasted a dry muscatel paired with the freshest seafood ever: cuttlefish and fried baby shrimp that look like french fries with eyes.

What are people from Old World wine regions most surprised to learn about the wines of the Central Coast?

I think that the alcohol in some of our wines gives us a bad rap in the Old World, but once they taste the wines and see how well balanced some of them are, they are blown away.

Jill Tweedie

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Jill Tweedie, owner, Breakaway Tours and Event Planning, Central Coast, breakaway-tours.com

When Jill Tweedie founded her company in 1995, it was long before the Central Coast was popular as a wine region. She’s a Level 1 Sommelier and WSET [Wine & Spirit Education Trust] Level II in Wine & Spirits.

Who are some of your local wine heroes?

Women winemakers. Women sommeliers for that matter, too. When I began my career in wine 24 years ago, women were primarily in the hospitality side, not production, vineyard management, owners, nor somms. Now, 10 percent of the more than 4,000 wineries in California are led by women. They inspire me with their finesse, passion, talent, dedication, and persistence.

Cheers to a few of my faves, in no particular order: Jordan Fiorentini, Epoch Estate Wines; Amy Butler, Ranchero Cellars, LXV, and Pelletiere Estates; Janell Dusi, J Dusi Wines; Hilary Graves, Mighty Nimble; Kamee Knutson, Edna Valley Vineyard; Jill DelaRiva Russell, Cambria Winery; Karen Steinwachs, Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard; Kat Gaffney, Spear Vineyards & Winery; Lane Tanner, Lumen; and Kathy Joseph, Fiddlehead Cellars.

What are some unique wine-education or wine-pairing experiences that you would recommend to people in this area?

A few standouts are Steinbeck Wines in Paso Robles with a Crash Course Jeep tour of its 500-acre family vineyard, mostly with owner Cindy Steinbeck herself.

Also in Paso, LXV offers the unique experience of pairing to exotic spices and seasoning blends, inspired by various regions, traditions, and stories.

At Autry Cellars in San Luis Obispo, winemaker Steve Autry personally conducts barrel tastings of not only his big wines but of his brandy as well.

The Coastline Tour at Presqu’ile in Santa Maria includes seasonal culinary pairings, an estate and cave tour, and finishes with a side-by-side tasting of single-vineyard pinot noirs.

If money were no object, which wines from this area would you recommend?

Jonata, located in Ballard Canyon AVA, Santa Ynez Valley, a sister winery to Screaming Eagle. Matt Dees, a natural-born winemaker, along with Drew Pickering, makes exceptional wine. I’m a fool for cool climate syrah and blends. The Ballard Canyon AVA is so interesting to me not only for its distinct terroir but also because it’s America’s only syrah-focused appellation.

What local wines or winemakers are you most excited about right now?

I’m a big fan of Carhartt Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Brooke Carhartt, a self-made winemaker, with her first vintage in 1998, is not only talented but the loveliest of people. I find their wines extremely balanced with great structure. Coupled with Old World alcohol levels, they hit my all my markers. For collectors, visiting the ranch (by appointment only) is an experience not to be missed. Its hospitality is as top-shelf as its wines, which are soldexclusively through the tasting room and online.

What’s the most surprisingly good wine and food combination you’ve tried recently?

Claiborne & Churchill of San Luis Obispo is one of my favorite producers for my go-to summer wines. I repeatedly vacillate between its riesling and gewürztraminer, both dry, complex, and refreshing. We recently enjoyed its Estate 2016 Riesling with a beautiful chilled peach soup. Perhaps not a surprising pairing but on a warm evening at Lake San Antonio, nothing is finer.

Kristen Shubert

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Kristen Shubert, owner, sommelier, founder of Wine Wars, 2018 Wine Tasting U.S. Open champion, VinTura Tasting Room & Wine Rack, Ventura, vinturatastingroom.com

Kristen Shubert was a member of the U.S. team that placed third at the World Wine Tasting Championship in Provence, France, in October 2016, and she was the first woman on the team. As the owner of VinTura Tasting Room, she currently presides over 72 types of wine served by the taste, glass, flight, or bottle.

Who are some of your local wine heroes?

Matt and Elissa Lester, owners of Lester Family Cellars, and Eddie and Stephanie Schwartz from Labyrinth Winery are my heroes because they are mom-and-pop start-up wineries. They knew they wanted to create their own wines and found a way to make that happen in Ventura. They are all the most incredibly down-to-earth people who will talk wine with anyone who walks into their tasting room. Matt Lester is also very knowledgeable about winemaking and sponsors a small group of home winemakers in the L.A. area.

Richard Sanford is a legend in the Central Coast area. We call him the Grape Whisperer. He was the first to plant pinot noir in 1971, realizing the weather patterns of the CentralCoast were ideal for the grape. He was instrumental in creating AVAs in the area.

What are some unique wine-education and wine-pairing experiences that you would recommend to people in this area?

Karen Stuart at Four Brix has created wine and cheese–pairing events with local cheesemonger Fritz Leon. They create custom pairings with the Four Brix wines and cheeses from around the world. At these events, Fritz lectures about the origins, history, and traits of the cheeses.

As far as educational experiences, Labyrinth Winery has a class each month that features wine pairings or wines from selected countries accompanied by tasting and a brief lecture by sommelier Greg Leon.

What local chefs are using wine in interesting ways?

Café Zack offers wine dinners that are limited in attendance, so everyone receives attention. They have excellent pairings from favorite wineries like Justin. Their next wine dinner features the wines from Laetitia, a real treat!

If money were no object, which wines from this area would you recommend?

There is a great sparkler at Laetitia. The grenache or any of the Rhône varietals from Tablas Creek are true to the varietal. Older Justin vintages of Isosceles, Daou Reserve Cabernet for big reds, Alma Rosa and Sea Smoke for a beautiful pinot noir, or Stolpman Ruben’s Block Syrah.

What local wines or winemakers are you most excited about right now?

McKinney Family Vineyards. Matt McKinney was a world-class volleyball player who attended UCLA but fell in love with wine when he sampled wines from around the world while competing. He has a Bordeaux style blend, Napoleon’s Secret, which is a stunner from the Santa Ynez Valley.

What’s the most surprisingly good wine and food combination you’ve tried recently?

I read about Dom Perigean Champagne and pepperoni pizza. It was actually a great combo.

Robin Puricelli

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Robin Puricelli, assistant director of food and beverage, sommelier, Lido at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, Pismo Beach, thedolphinbay.com/lido

Robin Puricelli oversees Lido at Dolphin Bay’s wine cellar of more than 900 local and international wines, each expertly selected to pair with the restaurant’s coastal cuisine.

Who are some of your local wine heroes?

Brian Talley of Talley Vineyards, Mike Sinor of Sinor-LaVallee, James Ontiveros of Rancho de Ontiveros, Ryan Deovlet of Deovlet Wines, and Coby Parker-Garcia of Claiborne & Churchill Winery, to name a few. Not only are they responsible for the success of the SLO County wine region—along with several more producers—they are the nicest people, and so humble and supporting of each other and everyone in the community. And the best part is their wines are delicious. Angela Osborne of A Tribute to Grace is also my inspiration for making beautiful, expressive grenache from several different single vineyards. Her wines are so pure and truly showcase the site. Not to mention she is a badass!

What are some unique wine-pairing experiences that you would recommend?

I’ve been challenged lately to pair red wine with fish, especially for our chef’s tasting menu, which has several seafood choices. The progression of the dishes did not match my ideas for wine progression, so I had to get creative. One would automatically think pinot noir, but I like to go farther. I paired the Field Recordings Cabernet Franc with the crab-stuffed sole in red-pepper cream sauce—that was just perfect. The dish was a heartier style, which matched well with the herbaceous cab franc.

What local chefs are using wine in interesting ways?

I love what we are doing here at Lido restaurant with our chef, Richard Pfaff. It’s inspiring to work with a chef who incorporates wine in many of his dishes and uses it to highlight the main component as well as harmonize with the featured wine pairings we offer. We are planning a Beaujolais dinner in the fall in which he will use the featured wine to make vin chaud to poach seasonal pears and accompany the warm, spiced wine drink with the dish. Our Baked Brie en Croute with a blackberry-syrah reduction can be an appetizer or a savory dessert. It pairs beautifully with the spicy Stolpman syrah blend or a port dessert wine.

If money were no object, which wines from this area would you recommend?

Alban Pandora Grenache is magical. The aromatics are wild and exotic with long-lasting flavors and pure, dense, and rich fruit. It’s a serious stunner. Saxum is a staple showstopper and the James Berry Vineyard put Paso Robles Rhône blends in the spotlight. Intensely perfumed and richly concentrated, they are always a winner.

What local wines or winemakers are you most excited about right now? We’d love to hear about some up-and-comers.

Monochrome, Hubba wines, Lady of the Sunshine, El Lugar, and Ann Albert.

What’s the most surprisingly good wine and food combination you’ve tried recently?

Our elegant and light-bodied local grenache from Locura Wine pairs beautifully with fish. The local halibut with Mediterranean couscous and stone fruit was complemented by the wine’s juicy acidity and highlighted the exotic spices and savory edge of the wine, which never overpowered the delicacy of the fish.

Hayden Felice

Originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, https://www.805living.com/archive.html

Hayden Felice, wine director, Acme Hospitality, Santa Barbara, acmehospitality.com

As the wine director for Acme Restaurant Properties—which include The Lark, Lucky Penny, Santa Barbara Wine Collective, Loquita, and Tyger Tyger—Hayden Felice offers a knowledgeable view into the depth and breadth of the 805 wine scene.

Who are some of your local wine heroes?

Richard Sanford is a local legend. Talk about ahead of his time: He planted pinot noir in Santa Rita Hills in 1971. The vineyard is still one of the top vineyard sources in the county. He’s also one of the most patient, knowledgeable, humble, and kind people I’ve met inthe wine industry and an incredible human.

Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman, partners in the Sandhi and Domaine de la Côte wine labels, are part of the vanguard. Raj, a brilliant but humble force of nature, brings his epic tasting ability and entrée into the greatest domaines in the world to bear on Santa Barbara County and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. He is always looking to help people in the wine community move the ball forward. He is generous with both his considerable knowledge and extremely limited time. Sashi is a passionate, reflective, sharp, and searching winemaker who executes their shared vision, focusing on biodynamic vineyard care and high-density planting.

What local winemakers are you most excited about right now?

Raj and Sashi again. Amy Christine and Peter Hunken of Joy Fantastic, Kyle Knapp at Stolpman, Justin Willett of Tyler, Wenzlau, and soon-to-be other projects, Matt Brady of Samsara, and Drake Whitcraft of Whitcraft.

What’s the most surprisingly good wine and food combination you’ve tried recently?

Sushi Bar Montecito’s 17-course omakase menu with a 1-liter bottle of Les Vins Pirouettes by Christian Binner, Le Sylvaner Glouglou d’Hubert et Christian.

What are people from Old World wine regions most surprised to learn about the wines from the Central Coast?

Wines here can be very low alcohol, crunchy, and mineral-driven.

Click here to read these stories as they appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Sept 2019 Wine Wisdom 805 sept 2019 cover

Wine Dinner Series at Belmond El Encanto Continues

Belmond El Encanto. Courtesy photo.

Belmond El Encanto. Courtesy photo.

Belmond El Encanto‘s delicious wine dinner series continues this week, with an exclusive dining experience featuring Daou Vineyards and Winery of Paso Robles on Wednesday, June 6.

Regionally inspired cuisine from Executive Chef Johan Denizot is paired with a fantastic selection of wines. A welcome reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings. For a peek at the menu, click here.

The series continues on August 23, featuring Santa Barbara County’s own Au Bon Climat.

On September 20, it’s Venetian Night: Evolution of Amarone (In Italian, the name Amarone literally means “the Great Bitter,” and is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina , Rondinella and other approved red grape varieties).

Finally, Ridge Vineyards, featuring wines from Sonoma County and the Santa Cruz Mountains, is spotlighted on November 1.

The Daou dinner on Wednesday, June 6 is $120 per person. For reservations, call 805/770-3530.

Belmond El Encanto is located at 800 Alvarado Pl., Santa Barbara. For more information about the resort, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Cocktail Corner: Wine & Art Come Together to Support SlingShot Gallery

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Wine and art are both close to my heart, so when the two of them come together to support a local nonprofit, it’s sure to be a magical evening!

In this case, Wine & Art, a fundraiser for SlingShot Art Forum, an Alpha Resource of Santa Barbara project, takes place on November 11, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the SlingShot Gallery, 220 W. Cannon Perdido St.

Hosted by acclaimed wine writer and TV personality Gabe Saglie, the event features delicious catering by Scott Wallace of SB Wine Dine Build and wine tasting from Grassini Family VineyardsThe Ojai Vineyard and Windrun Wines, as well as exclusive tastings from Willson Family Vineyard.

Willson Wine bottles of pinot noir, with labels by Slingshot Artists, available at the Wine & Art Fundraiser, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Willson Wine bottles of pinot noir, with labels by Slingshot Artists, available at the Wine & Art Fundraiser, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Based in Carpinteria, the pinots produced by the Willson Family are bottled with special labels from SlingShot artists—and all of the proceeds benefit the SlingShot art program. 

The Willson’s daughter Mylie was born with Down syndrome and received services from Alpha Resource of Santa Barbara, thus inspiring the family to produce their wines so generously, says Sue Dumm, Artist Representative/Community Liaison for SlingShot. In addition to being available for tasting and purchase at the Wine & Art fundraiser,  SlingShot is now part of First Thursday festivities in downtown Santa Barbara, where each month the public can come see and buy art on the walls, as well as taste and purchase Willson pinot, says Dumm.

Dumm gave me my first tour of the gallery for this story, but it definitely won’t be my last visit!

Another Willson Wine bottle of pinot noir, with label by a Slingshot Artist, available at the Wine & Art Fundraiser, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Another Willson Wine bottle of pinot noir, with label by a Slingshot Artist, available at the Wine & Art Fundraiser, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Just a few steps a way from our office at Santa Barbara SeasonsSlingShot is a working art studio and gallery which supports 34 different Santa Barbara artists. Since 1980, Alpha Resource Center has promoted artists with developmental disabilities through participation in gallery and juried art shows, and this gallery is an expansion of the art studio program.  Many of the artists are recognized for their talent and have developed dedicated collectors. SlingShot gives the artists greater visibility and access to the rich local art world. It also gives our community better access to their work. As a working studio, visitors are able to meet the artists and view the art as it is created.

According to the Mission Statement, “Alpha Resource Center is a multi-faceted service center providing support and information for families of children with developmental disabilities of all ages, teen and adult recreation, and life skills training for adults. Today Alpha serves over 2,200 families. Alpha also owns and operates three thrift stores which support our services.”

Tickets for the event are $50, can be purchased online at: http://alphasb.org/events/.

I hope to see 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 October 20, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Pairing Wine and Sushi

Edomae Sushi and Star Lane & Dierborg Vineyard Winery pairing and tasting tour. Photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

Edomae Sushi and Star Lane & Dierberg Vineyard Winery pairing and tasting tour. Photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

Wine and sushi were a match made in Happy Canyon heaven—I’m still dreaming about a once-in-a-lifetime amazing meal I shared recently at Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards.

Executive Chef/Owner Kiminari Togawa of Sushi Karaku in Tokyo (left) and his associate prepare a pairing luncheon at the Star Lane Dierberg Estate Vineyard property. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Executive Chef/Owner Kiminari Togawa of Sushi Karaku in Tokyo (left) and his associate prepare a pairing luncheon at the Star Lane Dierberg Estate Vineyard property. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Dierberg family-owned wineries teamed up with Japan’s sushi master Chef Kiminari Togawa of  Sushi Karaku of Ginza Tokyo, winemaker Tyler Thomas and two impressive advanced sommeliers—Matthew Dulle of Single Thread Farm in Healdburg, CA and Andrew Ivanov of Reeds American Table in St. Louis, MO—to create an incredible, intimate wine and sushi experience.

Energetic powerhouse JiaMin Liang Dierberg coordinated the entire meal, and also proved to be an entertaining Japanese translator for Chef Togawa, explaining, “the style of sushi we are eating is from the Edo Period (in the 1800’s) when the refrigeration system was not sufficient and resulted in this sushi method, involving a special way of marinating and seasoning to preserve fresh fish safely.”

JiaMin Liang Dierberg was an entertaining Japanese translator for Chef Togawa at a recent pairing luncheon at the Star Lane Dierberg Estate Vineyard property. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

JiaMin Liang Dierberg was an entertaining Japanese translator for Chef Togawa at a recent pairing luncheon at the Star Lane Dierberg Estate Vineyard property. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The type of “fast food” sushi we commonly eat today has only been in style for about 50 years, JiaMin said, “even in Japan, most of the people have never had this experience.”

And what an experience it was!

Winemaker Tyler Thomas at Star Lane & Dierberg Vineyards in Happy Canyon, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Winemaker Tyler Thomas at Star Lane & Dierberg Vineyards in Happy Canyon, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Our morning started out with a barrel wine tasting and seminar at the Dierberg Tasting Room in Lompoc. Led by Tyler Thomas, who offered some insight into his belief that great wines are about showcasing great properties and the goal is to help each vineyard reach its unique potential.

We then shuttled to the Star Lane estate and winery in Happy Canyon, which is home to 200 acres of Bordelaise varietal vines and a state-of-the-art winery that features a four story high crush pad, gravity flow system and 26,000 feet of caves full of wine barrels. You have see it to believe it!  After our tour of the vineyard and winery we were greeted at the luncheon reception with a refreshing glass of the 2016 Star Lane Rosé made with 100% Malbec.

Then the wine and sushi pairing began.

Kanpachi (Yellow Tail) Marinated in White Wine (r) and Tai (Sea Bream) with Marinated Kelp and Yuzu. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Kanpachi (Yellow Tail) Marinated in White Wine (r) and Tai (Sea Bream) with Marinated Kelp and Yuzu. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First Course: Sauvignon Blanc
Kanpachi Yellowtail Marinated in White Wine with 2015 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Tai (Sea Bream) with Marinated Kelp and Yuzu with 2005 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley

Seafood Dressed in Basil Sauce, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Seafood Dressed in Basil Sauce, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Seafood Dressed in Basil Sauce

The pairings were exceptional. I particularly enjoyed the way the marinated kelp and yuzu flavors complimented the citrus notes of the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc.

Second Course: Chardonnay

Tai (Sea Bream) Pickled in Sesame Soy (l) with Broiled Skin-on Tai (Sea Bream), photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Tai (Sea Bream) Pickled in Sesame Soy (l) with
Broiled Skin-on Tai (Sea Bream), photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Tai (Sea Bream) Pickled in Sesame Soy with 2014 Dierberg “Dierberg Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley

Broiled Skin-onTai (Sea Bream) with 2014 Dierberg “Drum Canyon Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills

King Crab Mille Feuille, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

King Crab Mille Feuille, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

King Crab Mille Feuille

Again, the pairings were amazing, with excellent food and wine serving to improve the tastes of each even further. The sesame soy oil really went well with the lush fruit flavors of the Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and I loved the King Crab dish.

Moving into the red wine pairings is where it got even more interesting. Common practice is to pair white wines with fish and red wines with meats, which is probably why it’s been difficult to get most sushi restaurants to offer much in the way of wine lists. However, the next two sets of pairings proved that red wine and sushi can indeed be a delicious match.

Pickled Red Maguro (Tuna Red Meat) in Soy (l) and Chu-Toro (Fatty Tuna) Sprinkled with Wine Salt, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Pickled Red Maguro (Tuna Red Meat) in Soy (l) and Chu-Toro (Fatty Tuna) Sprinkled with Wine Salt, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Third Course: Pinot Noir

Pickled Red Maguro (Tuna Red Meat) in Soy with 2014 Dierberg “Dierberg Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
Chu-Toro (Fatty Tuna) Sprinkled with Wine Salt with 2014 Dierberg “Drum Canyon Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills

Oil Marinated Salmon with Tomato Water

Oil Marinated Salmon with Tomato Water, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Oil Marinated Salmon with Tomato Water, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

These elegant Pinot Noirs were a heavenly match with plummy sweetness of the tomato water marinade. I’m a huge sushi tuna fan and both of these variations were incredible.

Fourth Course: Bordeaux Varieties
Broiled Toro and 2013 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Mirin Marinated Conger Eel with 2011 Star Lane “Astral,” Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara

Broiled Toro and Mirin Marinated Conger Eel, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Broiled Toro and Mirin Marinated Conger Eel, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Teriyaki Fatty Yellowtail with Foie Gras

The pièce de résistance of an absolutely incredible meal! The 2011 Bordeaux Blend had lovely depth and sweet notes of cassis, plum and boysenberry that were fabulous with the sweetness of the eel. Similar notes in the 2013 Cab added yet another layer of complex flavor to the Toro. All in all it was simply amazingly delicious lunch.

Teriyaki Fatty Yellowtail with Foie Gras, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Teriyaki Fatty Yellowtail with Foie Gras, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Pairing each course with multiple vintages was an ingenious way to show off the diversity and complexity of the Dierberg and Star Lane wine offerings, as well as open our minds to the variety of ways that wine and sushi can be paired successfully.

This is definitely an experience I won’t ever forget. For more information, visit dierbergvineyard.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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on May 15, 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.

 

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: SB Premiere of Somm Into the Bottle

Somm Into the Bottle

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Wine and movies pair together exceptionally well—especially at the beautiful private screening room at the Bacara Resort & Spa, featuring blu-ray technology and a surround-sound audio system—so it’s fitting that this is the spot for the Santa Barbara movie premiere of SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE, the sequel to the 2013 cult hit SOMM.

Writer/Director Jason Wise’s SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE takes us deep into the seldom seen world that surrounds the wine we drink. How many people understand how wine is produced? How it is grown? What goes on in the cellar? From those questions to how many hands touch a bottle, to why wine costs what it costs, to how certain wines end up on a wine list, this movie offers a never before seen, insider’s look into the world of wine.

After the premiere, you can enjoy tastings by Bacara’s famed Executive Chef Vincent Lesage, as well as vintages from 11 esteemed Santa Barbara County wineries pouring an outstanding selection of wines. It all takes place on Saturday, January 16 at the Bacara, 8301 Hollister Ave.

“Bacara’s appreciation for fine wine is evident in our 12,000-bottle Cellar and onsite Foley Wine Tasting Room,” says Shashi Poudyal, general manager of Bacara Resort & Spa. “We share the filmmaker’s fascination with this intriguing world and are honored to screen a film about one of our favorite passions.”

The schedule is as follows:

2:30 to 4:30 p.m. SOMM Screening & Audience Q&A with writer/director Jason Wise and local master sommelier Brian McClintic, who appears in the film.

4:30 to 6 p.m. Wine & Chef’s Tasting Reception

Featured Wineries at the Reception:

PENCE

Scar of the Sea

Palmina

Silver Wines

Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards

Presqu’ile

Rancho Sisquoc

Sunstone Winery

Baehner Fournier

Imagine Wine, LLC

The Valley Project

The cost is $80 per person and tickets must be purchased online at BacaraResort.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 Magazine on January 1, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Why Wine is Good for You!

Courtesy Corks 'n Crowns

Courtesy Corks ‘n Crowns

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

In honor of the holiday season, here are some reasons why wine is good for you!

A glass of wine a day may keep depression away! A group of researchers from Spain found that “those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol (5 to 15 g a day) were less likely to suffer from depression. Additionally, those who drank a moderate amount of wine on a weekly basis (two to seven small glasses a week), were found to have an even lower risk of depression.”

Wine is heart healthy. Two studies, one in Germany and one in Israel, suggest different approaches as to how merlots and cabernet sauvignons and other types of red wine offer heart-healthy benefits.

Drinking wine lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, according to study at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, moderate drinkers have 30% less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes.

Resveratrol, a component in red wine, was seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength similar to the affect exercise has on the body. In fact, according to a new study out of The University of Albertadrinking a glass of red wine may have the same affect on the body as an hour at the gym.

Photo Courtesy of Urban Wine Trail

Photo Courtesy of Urban Wine Trail

Drinking wine can promote longevity. A study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology found that wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “More than 100 prospective studies show an inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes.” In other words, wine can reduce the risk of heart attack.  

Wine can lower the risk of stroke in women. “A study of more than 80,000 women found that low to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a 17% to 21% reduction in risk of stroke.”

Wine is good for our local economy. According to statistics on the Santa Barbara Vintners website, the Economic Value of Wine Grapes in Santa Barbara County (2014) is $155,255,791 and the Economic Impact of Wine in Santa Barbara County (2011) is $789,000,000. So drink up, my friends!

(For still more reasons why wine is good for you, check out Jen Reviews for some healthy wine recipes and more.)

And while you’re at it, why not buy a few bottles for Santa and his helpers. 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 December 18, 2015.

Noozhawk Talks: Santa Barbara Writers Blend Talents, Wine Experiences

For Reka Badger, left, and Cheryl Crabtree, writing the California Directory of Fine Wineries was a labor of love — and red wine.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

For Reka Badger, left, and Cheryl Crabtree, writing the California Directory of Fine Wineries was a labor of love — and red wine. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Leslie Dinaberg: The California Directory of Fine Wineries book is quite lovely and takes you on a journey through 58 wineries in Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. How did you decide which wineries to include?Cheryl Crabtree: (Our editor) Tom Silberkleit picked them.LD: Do you know how he picked them?Reka Badger: He tasted all over the place.

CC: He researched heavily.

RB: He chose them for the wine and the quality of the destination.

CC: It had to have a double package … these were destination travel pieces more than wine experiences. He definitely did his homework.

LD: Both of you have written extensively about wine. Tell me about some favorites you discovered in the course of writing the book.

RB: I thought Whalebone’s wines were really good. There was something about knowing their stories that added such a dimension to tasting the wine, too. The guy who owns Whalebone, Bob Simpson, was an obstetrician, and he lost his fingers in a hunting accident and had to do something else. He got involved with vineyards by doing something that was similar to what he did as a doctor, using equipment. They were raising cattle, as well, so they were already kind of farmer types. Then he planted some vineyards and grapes. He’s so devoted to farming … and I liked their wines.

I thought Calcareous Vineyard was a wonderful story — those two sisters (Dana Brown and Erika Messer), and I thought the wines were really nice. Those Zinfandels really showed what you could do with zin. Their pinot … there really is pinot up there in the right spot. I could go on and on.

LD:: What about you, Cheryl? Did you have any discoveries?

CC: I did discover probably one of the best wineries here, Kenneth Volk Vineyards.

LD: Really?

CC: Kenneth Volk is a pioneer in the wine business. He started Wild Horse Winery up in Templeton. He was one of the first and he’s very academic.

RB: He loves to talk about it. He loves to tell you about it.

CC: He’s a scientist, but he loves experimentation. What happened with Wild Horse is, it got a little too big for him and he wanted to return to making just the wines he really wanted to make and experiment with. He’s got 16 or 20 different wines. Some are really unusual ones, from really unusual varietals. Those wines were really good. I loved seeing how much he loves to get his hands dirty and experiment. It’s like a kid with a chemistry kit.

LD: Is this book something people would use to map out their wine-tasting destinations?

RB: It gives a series of really good starting points. I think the purpose is to get people out there, give them an idea of what they might find, and then from there, they can do their own exploring. It’s not a comprehensive guide, but it can point you to some of your favorites and to some that you don’t know.

CC: And to make it seem accessible, because a lot of people who don’t come from California especially think, oh, it’s only for connoisseurs. But that’s not the case at all. The photos really show that. Just normal people learning about wine in a very informal, casual way.

LD: Let’s say, for example, Reka: Where would you take a friend from out of town if you were to go wine tasting?

RB: That’s a really tough one. I would want them to stay five days and we would go to five different regions.

LD:: Really?

RB: Yes. Because there’s a lot of driving involved in the western Paso Robles area, near Whalebone. Vina Robles emerged full-blown from the soil with all of this stacked stone and expensive state-of-the-art stuff, which I steer clear of usually. They usually look too fancy for me, but it was a fabulous experience.

Where we would go would depend on whether we were going to taste some wine or we were going to stop and have a picnic. L’Adventure is at the end of the road. It’s this crazy French guy (Stephen Asseo) who didn’t want to be restricted to the Bordeaux requirements for blending. He wanted to develop blends around cabernets, so he came over here and bought that property. It’s an adventure just getting there. If you want to take a ride and see some country, I would want to go out there. If it’s a short time, I would go someplace a little closer. If there’s no time at all, go down to downtown Paso Robles and just do the downtown.

CC: Same thing, downtown Solvang and downtown Santa Barbara, the Urban Wine Trail. If you have little time, I would focus on those because you can still taste some great wines and walk.

LD: Do you guys have a favorite wine? You mentioned you like reds, Reka.

RB: I do, but depending on the weather and what I’m doing and the time of day. Mornings I prefer champagne, definitely. Late afternoon hot, I love a real crisp rose; I really like the roses a lot, but I do like a red.

LD: What about you, Cheryl?

CC: Pinot Noir. There are several great Pinot Noirs from the Santa Rita Hills. Those are stellar. Kris Curran; anything she touches is wonderful. And she is married to Bruno D’Alfonso, who was (the winemaker) at Sanford for a long time. They now have their own label, D’Alfonso-Curran Wines, but she also is the winemaker for Foley. She works wonders; it doesn’t matter who she’s working for, just find Kris Curran. And she and Bruno have a tasting room in Solvang, too.

LD: I’ll have to remember that.

CC: She is incredible. And so is Bruno. They are, he’s a pioneer also. They helped pave the way. He was the one who crafted Sanford wines for years. But my favorite is Alma Rosa Chardonnay. That’s what we always buy.

RB: Is it pretty affordable?

CC: It’s $11.99 at Costco.

LD: Where’s your favorite place to enjoy a glass of wine?

RB: I have a zero gravity chair, and I sit out on the patio and I kick my feet up and that’s about it. How about you, Cheryl?

CC: Well, I haven’t gotten out much except to my patio, but if I could my favorite view is Ellwood Bluffs. But I’m not sure you can bring wine up there.

RB: Well, if you’re discreet. (Laughs)

CC: That’s where I would go if I had the time. Anywhere with a view around here is not hard to find. Have you ever been to Clautiere Vineyard in Paso Robles? The tasting room has wigs and you put the different wigs on and be whoever you are, wander around the grounds with these wigs and it’s like a French cabaret.

LD: What a hoot. I’ve never heard of that.

RB: You know winemakers are all eccentrics, really.

CC: They really are.

LD: The other part of this is I ask you two a few questions about yourselves. So, Reka, what else do you like to do when you’re not working?

RB: One of my favorite things is to dig holes and plant things. I love to get out there with a shovel and a hat and dig holes and plant. I’m an irrepressible gardener. I love to read, I love to swim, I like to travel but I don’t get to do enough of that now. When the wine runs out I like a nice cold Bombay Martini straight up.

CC: If I had time I would have a list of things that I used to do.

RB: What’s at the top of the list?

CC: Travel. I love to walk the dog and enjoy Santa Barbara. All of these wonderful open spaces that we have. We’re so lucky to be able to have that. Every day we can go to the Douglas Preserve or Hendry’s Beach or the Bluffs or the burned-out trails, but they’re kind of fun still; it’s unusual. It’s a different look but it’s interesting. Also, recently I’ve begun to really like watching water polo.

RB: Isn’t it weird to be interviewed? It’s very strange to be on the other side.

CC: Yeah, it’s peculiar.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

RB: Gorgeous, confident, wealthy. Put that.

CC: You can think of those for us.

RB: Yeah, just look at us. Curious, driven; those are the only two I can think of.

CC: Stubborn, persistent.

RB: I think we’re going to go with two adjectives each since there are two of us.

Vital Stats: Cheryl Crabtree

Born: July 21, in ancient times, San Francisco

Family: Husband Chris; sons Cameron, 15, and Colin, 10; Lightning the Jack Russell terrier and cats Pepper and Lorraine

Civic Involvement: Hope School District Educational Foundation, volunteer for kids’ sports teams

Professional Accomplishments: BA Stanford University with Honors in humanities and comparative literature; graduate studies in comparative literature at New York University. Moved to Santa Barbara in 1983 to work for EF (Education First). “When the headquarters (and my writing job) moved to Boston in the late ‘80s, I decided to freelance until I found a ‘real’ job. Two decades later, I still don’t have a real job, but I’ve written tons of things.” This includes co-authoring the first edition of The Insider’s Guide to Santa Barbara; working for Fodor’s Travel Publications updating the Central Coast and Monterey Bay chapters in Fodor’s California guidebook since 2001; co-authoring Hometown Santa Barbara (with Noozhawk’s Leslie Dinaberg and Zak Klobucher, and Nancy Ransohoff and Starshine Roshell) and co-authoring California Directory of Fine Wineries. Story editor/writer Montecito Magazine, writer for Santa Barbara Seasons/Custom Media and writer for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau’s new Santa Barbara visitor’s magazine.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness by Lisa M. Hamilton; Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson; The Little Book by Selden Edwards

Little-Known Fact “I spent a year in Norway as a high school exchange student and speak Norwegian. Heia Norge!”

Vital Stats: K. Reka Badger

Born: June 12, midcentury last, in Monterey Park

Family: Married 21 years to Jon Budac; two cats and a ball-crazy whippet

Civic Involvement: Creston Garden Club, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, former board member Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association

Professional Accomplishments: BA in cultural anthropology from UCSB. “I have worked a lot of different jobs, including driving a cab, making documentary films, building models for an animator, painting houses, writing celebrity bios and managing winery tasting rooms. Currently, I write weekly wine, food and garden-related columns (for the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Santa Maria Sun), and consider the publication of this book a landmark accomplishment.”

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett; Mother of Pearl, by Melinda Haynes; The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck

Little-Known Fact: “I managed a little copy kiosk at the edge of the UCSB campus way back when and was among Kinko’s first handful of employees.”

Originally published on Noozhawk.com on August 2, 2009.

Cocktail Corner: Good Wines, Good Causes

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara winemakers are a generous bunch. They constantly get hit up to donate wine to charitable events, and do so with stunning regularity, often pouring the wine themselves, and always with affable smiles on their faces.

A few causes that are particularly near and dear to the wine/food community have their own fundraising events coming up soon, and lucky us, we get to sip and savor and support them in style!

Coming up on May 3 is the 2nd annual Fork & Cork Classic, which brings food and wine aficionados together to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank. Held at the Montecito Country Club, this delicious fundraiser features tastings from an array of select wines and special dishes prepared by over 20 of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants and chefs, including Bella Vista at the Four Seasons, Blue Owl, Ca’DarioEmpty Bowls Noodle Bar, Finch & Fork, Industrial Eats, Jessica Foster Confections, Julienne, Montecito Country Club, Patxi’s, Santa Barbara Yacht Club, Succulent Cafe, The Secret Ingredient, The Pasta Shoppe and Whole Foods.

Participating wineries include Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ampelos Cellars, Beckmen Vineyards, Blair Fox Vineyards, Consilience, Marianella & Tre Anelli, CORE Family Winery and Deep Sea by Conway Family Wines.

Additional wineries include Falcone Family Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Nagy Wines, Pegasus Estate Winery, Scott Cellars, Silver Wines LLC, Turiya Wines, William James Cellars, Whitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Wineyards.

Also pouring are Ascendant Spirits, Caribbean Coffee Company, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Island Brewing Company, Pressed Juicery, The Real McCoy Rum and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

100% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Foodbank’s 300 local nonprofit partners who supply nutritious meals to Santa Barbara County residents. Last year alone, the Foodbank served 140,575 people—over 25% of the local population, including 50,000 children.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://www.forkandcorkclassic.org.

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Also back for the second year at the Bacara Resort & Spa is the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend  April 16—19 . I’ve written about this before but this is a great event for a good cause: The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Child herself created the foundation, and the mission is to honor and further her legacy, which centers on the importance of understanding where food comes from, what makes for good food, and the value of cooking.  It is a grant making, nonprofit which primarily funds research and scholarships for professional culinary training as well as other activities in the fields of gastronomy and the culinary arts.

Among the highlights this year is a special Saturday Night Grand Dinner & Reception with Kurt Russell featuring GoGi Wines, Hudson Bellamy Wines (inspired by actress Kate Hudson), and Ampelos Cellars. Russell will tell the stories behind the wines, their inspiration and their unique qualities driven by how they are grown and blended in the renowned Sta. Rita Hills AVA and there’s also a VIP access-only wine reception with live music followed by a four-course “ranch to table” dinner with his wine pairings.

Also on tap for the event is an educational lunch with Los Angeles power couple and celebrity chefs, Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC & Tavern) and David Lentz, chef/owner of Santa Barbara’s The Hungry Cat; cooking classes with famed chefs and cookbook authors, including Jim DodgeAnne Willan and Virginia Willis; a Neighborhood Tasting & Market that explores Santa Barbara’s top up-and-coming food regions, including Los Alamos, Arts District and the Funk Zone and while lot more.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit BacaraCulinaryWeekend.com.

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on April 10, 2015.

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.”