Touring & Tasting Editor’s Letter: Spring/Summer 2020

Editor’s Letter, Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”—Ernest Hemingway


What a pleasure it’s been to begin my tenure as editor in chief of Touring & Tasting with a celebration of the magazine’s 25th anniversary!

There are so many wonderful places to savor your way around the incredible variety of wine-growing regions, and so many great stories to be told. With such a vast and exciting world of wineries, resorts, inns, hotels, tasting rooms, outdoor adventures and other attractions to explore, this issue really is a celebration of some of the most enjoyable things in life.

We’ve got 25 terrific ways to enjoy touring and tasting, featuring a variety of top-notch destinations that are ripe for the sipping (page 32), a look at the evolution of wine tourism through the memories and insights of America’s wine pioneers (page 52), and a fun glimpse into our crystal ball at the future of wine (page 96).

When it comes to wine travel and easy access to amazing wine, food and attractions, the world really is our oyster. In fact, the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival is right near Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley wine country (page 28), Leavenworth, Washington offers a slice of Germany in the Pacific Northwest (page 26) and Paso Robles, California has the incredible “Field of Light at Sensorio” outdoor light installation (page 16), to name just a few of the destinations we share with you on these pages.

Touring & Tasting has been dedicated to exploring the best of wine country for 25 years. It’s an honor to be your guide.


Leslie Dinaberg, Editor in Chief,

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more!

Touring & Tasting Magazine

I had the honor of serving as the Editor-in-Chief for Touring & Tasting Magazine’s 25th anniversary edition. I also wrote many pieces. To read the magazine in its entirety, click here.

Here’s the custom cover version we did for Robert Mondavi Winery.

This 25 Top Experiences Feature is a great way to do some armchair traveling!

My editor’s letter.


I really enjoyed interviewing photographer George Rose for this story about his stunning new book!

The Sensorio exhibit in Paso Robles is so cool. Hoping it will be able to reopen soon.

This story was a particularly fun one to research!

Click here to read all of these stories and more!

Garden Plots

Gardens Books feature from 805 Living Magazine, Spring 2020. Two recently released books aim to celebrate and galvanize the gardening ambitions of 805-region residents.

Private Gardens of Santa Barbara: The Art of Outdoor Living (Gibbs Smith, 2020) by landscape designer Margie Grace of Grace Design Associates (, offers an intimate look at 18 distinctive gardens set on the grounds of large estates, modest homes, and surf retreats, including Grace’s own secret garden, which she affectionately dubs “Lotusland South,” after her storied Montecito neighbor.

“Coffee table books for me can be a three minute vacation that refreshes,” says Grace, who hopes her new book will offer just that to readers. With beautiful photography by Holly Lepere, the book is also packed with inspiration and takeaways for sustainable home garden designs with all-important water-conscious, maintenance-friendly, and fire-safety priorities in mind.

“We are starved for beauty in nature,” says Grace. “If we can get a little dose every day, we just feel better.”

For those with big garden dreams and small spaces in which to realize them, Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers (Ten Speed Press, 2020) may prove to be an invaluable resource.

“We couldn’t find a garden meets-design book,” says Santa Barbara–based writer Jennifer Blaise Kramer, who co-authored the realistic take on fashioning gardens with Isa Hendry Eaton of Isa Bird Landscape Design (

The book starts with a fun quiz to help readers determine their small-garden style.

“Everyone deserves to have a little garden in their home,” says Eaton. “Why not make it something that really feels like you by bringing your individual aesthetic?”

The variety of ways to bring your own unique style to your garden are lovingly documented by local photographer Leela Cyd.

“We really wanted it to be fun and inspirational but also very practical and useful,” says Eaton. “A container is a miniature garden; it’s the best place to start.”

805 Living Spring 2020Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine 805 Living Pulse April 2020

Sow Smart

Getting ready to play in the dirt this spring? The Plant Good Seed Company ( offers a large assortment of certified organic vegetable, flower, and herb seeds, including improved rare and heirloom varieties.

“Connecting plants and people, that’s really what it’s about for me,” says co-founder and owner Quin Shakrawhose business offers hundreds of unique seeds sourced from farmland they steward in Ojai.

“I believe we’re making some really unique agricultural contributions to this region,” says Shakra, who started the business as an organic farm in 2011 but soon realized that there wasn’t a garden-based, small-scale organic seed company in the area. “It turned out that we had stumbled upon a niche that nobody else was covering here,” he says.

The seeds can be purchased seasonally at Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market and many retail stores throughout the 805 area as well as from the company’s website, which also provides free, charmingly illustrated seasonal planting calendars designed to aid customers’ planting and planning decisions for every crop in the catalog.

805 Living Spring 2020Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine 805 Living Pulse April 2020

Putting Homes in Good Hands

GreatBuildz from 805 Living Spring 2020

Looking to facilitate good experiences among homeowners who embark on remodels, Jon Grispul and Paul Dashevsky (at left,) co‑founded GreatBuildz concierge service. Photos: Kitchen by Langoworks Photography; Co-Founders courtesy of GreatBuildz.

Homeowners looking for trusted professionals to help with a home repair or renovation may be interested to hear that a new online service can lead the way.

After renovating and flipping more than 350 homes, local real estate investor Paul Dashevsky was looking for his next project when he came to a realization. “The most brutal part of my own experience doing hundreds of remodels was working with contractors,” says Dashevsky “and I did this professionally. I started doing my homework and realized it must be really hard for the homeowner that does this every 10 years.”

This prompted him to co-found GreatBuildz (, an online concierge service connecting homeowners with home-repair and-improvement professionals.

“The best experiences come from a referral,” says co-founder Jon Grispul, Dashevsky’s nephew. “People typically start online. What we do is take this a few steps further.”

Free to homeowners, GreatBuildz currently provides services in Los Angeles County, the Conejo Valley, and parts of Ventura County, using a 10-step vetting process that includes interviews, background and reference checks, and verification of contractor licenses. Once homeowners submit project information, a GreatBuildz concierge reaches out to learn more about their renovation needs and then matches them with up to three approved contractors available in the area. The concierge stays involved throughout the project because, Grispul says, “We always want to ensure the contractor is doing the work promised and that our clients are fully satisfied.”

805 Living Spring 2020Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine 805 Living Pulse April 2020