Cocktail Corner: Lots of Ways to Eat, Drink and Make Merry

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Kurt Russell will take part in the annual Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend at the Bacara Resort. Photo by Isaac Hernandez

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

There’s no shortage of fun wine, beer and cocktail events in Santa Barbara County, but the next few weeks are particularly eventful.

Here’s a look at some of the toast-worthy happenings:

March 6-7 World of Pinot Noir

Indulge in the pleasures of Pinot Noir at the beautiful Bacara this spring, when the 15th Annual World of Pinot Noir unites producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education. Last year’s event set a high bar for wonderful wines. Sip and savor at the Bacara Resort & Spa, 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 805/489-1758,

Courtesy World of Pinot Noir

Courtesy World of Pinot Noir

March 18-22 Taste of Solvang

Celebrate the 23rd year of “Taste of Solvang” Food & Wine Destination Weekend with a five-day experience that encourages attendees to embark on “a culinary journey through Solvang, where wine country meets ‘dine country.” Highlights include the ​two-day Taste of Solvang Wine & Beer Walk, which allows guests to taste their pick from more than a dozen participating wine tasting rooms, wine bars and beer bars during the two-day stroll through Solvang Village. In addition, there’s a special Winemaker Dinner in a greenhouse setting with local winemaker and vineyard owner, Michael Larner of Larner Vineyard & Winery, and a carefully-curated pairing menu by Bacon & Brine’s Chef Pink. New this year is Bubbles & Brunch, an exclusive brunch held at Solvang’s Wildling Museum, featuring three different sparkling wines from local label, Flying Goat Cellars’ “Goat Bubbles” – a Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and a sparkling Rosé. Flying Goat Cellars Winemaker, Norm Yost, is available to walk guests through each sparkling wine and the sparkling winemaking process. Various locations throughout Solvang. Tickets are available at, and for further information, visit

Garagiste Southern Exposure 2015March 27-29 Southern Exposure Festival in Solvang 

This popular festival returns to Veterans’ Hall in Solvang for what Festival co-founder Stewart McLennan promises will be “our best Southern Exposure ever—with many more exciting wine discoveries on tap from Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County.” The weekend of events will showcase the wines of over 60 artisan garagiste commercial winemakers who produce under 1,500 cases per year from the Santa Barbara region and the Central Coast. As an added benefit, the nonprofit Garagiste Festivals benefit the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program. For more information on The Garagiste Festivals, go to

April 16—19 Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend 

Now in its second year at the Bacara, the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend showcases the distinct tastes, sights and sounds of Santa Barbara County while also bringing cutting-edge culinary talent from across the country to our region. This multi-faceted event, which includes cooking classes with famed chefs, local wine and food tastings, movie screenings, special presentations and much more, is a benefit for The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Among the highlights this year is a special dinner with actor/winemaker Kurt Russell on April 18.  Bacara Resort & Spa, 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta.

April 18 Earth Day Pop-Up Farm-to-Table Dinner

When the sun goes down on Saturday’s Earth Day celebration, a large community table pops in front of the main stage immediately after the last band. The only activity in the park with an admission fee, this four-course locavore feast—a benefit for Community Environmental Council—features seasonal delights from New West Catering and Cultivate Events, as well as local wine pairings and live music. This limited-seating special event will sell out, so get your tickets early. | Alameda Park, 1400 Santa Barbara St., 7 p.m. For tickets contact Kathi King at 805/963-0583 ext.108, or visit festival-highlights/farm-to-table-dinner.

April 19 Magic on the Urban Wine Trail III

Join the Parks and Recreation Community Foundation (PARC) for its third annual fundraising bash, Magic on the Urban Wine Trail, where music, art and wine meet.  Enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting featuring more than 12 wineries from the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, while you mingle with friends, enjoy local art and music and feel great about supporting Parks and Recreation programs for under-served youth.  There is also a silent auction, raffle and bottles of favorite wines for purchase. Carrillo Recreation Center Ballroom, 100 E. Carrillo St., 3-6 p.m. 805/897-1946,

Hope to see some of you there. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on March 6, 2015.

Leslie DinabergWhen 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.”

Ventura Goes Green

Image courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank">Horton Group</a>

Image courtesy of Horton Group

Earth Day is April 22, but you can celebrate the earth every day of the year by incorporating green building and remodeling practices into your home. Allen Associates Green Resources Manager Karen Feeney shares these tips:

Take a look at your operating efficiency. You’ll save money on utilities by making greener choices for your home. For example, a remodel is the perfect opportunity to put in a high efficiency furnace. “There are so many energy efficient systems that are out there right now, that are 90 to 97 percent efficient, so if you can put in a new heating system it’s going to make your house more comfortable because it’s going to work really well and also it’s not burning up fossil fuels to operate.”

Green doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. Especially when you look at your long-term costs. “You’ve got that house for several years of your life, so it’s really a wise choice to go ahead and make some of those adjustments in your home because if you look at the lifespan of a home, you’re bringing your costs down and saving money.”

Improved insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Even if you are not taking down any walls, but you are going to repaint, you can go into an old house and you can drill small holes at the top and the bottom of the walls and blow in cellulose, which is recycled newspaper, or foam insulation, and that fills up the entire cavity and makes the home more airtight. Then you simply patch the holes and repaint the walls.

Tighter windows also improve insulation, bringing down your heating and cooling costs. “You can go in and do replacement on windows and do it very inexpensively. You can take, let’s say an aluminum framed single paned window and put in a window that fits in that same place that’s double-paned that can be a very energy efficient window.”

Carpets can be one of your home’s biggest health hazards. In part due to dust, mold, lead, and asbestos in the home, more than 38 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. “When you put a new carpet in your home and then you take it out ten years later, it can weigh three times more than the original carpet, especially if you have a dog or a lot of dirt tracked in…there’s documentation that if you take a carpet out of the home where somebody has asthma or allergies that their health improves immensely.”

For more Earth Day green living tips, check out these special events.

Midtown Green Home and Garden Tour
A self-guided home tour emphasizing sustainable building and/or gardening practices to see how others in the community are already using “green” principles. Sponsored by the Midtown Ventura Community Council and the City of San Buenaventura. Saturday, April 19, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. $10. Tickets are available at Arketype Architects Inc., 275 S. San Clemente, 653.5088. For more information call Dan Long at 653.6573 or e-mail at

Earth Day Expo
Businesses and non-profit groups will share information that will help citizens “go green,” save energy, and save money. Sponsored by the Midtown Ventura Community Council and the City of San Buenaventura. Saturday, April 19, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Free. City of Ventura Sanjon Maintenance Yard, 336 Sanjon Road.

Free Green Building Workshop
Come celebrate Earth Day by learning from local building experts at Allen Associates how you can make your home healthier, energy efficient, more durable, and still stay within your budget. Tuesday, April 22, 7 to 9 P.M., Elizabeth Topping Room, E.P. Foster Library, 651 E. Main Street, Ventura. Free. Call 641.0839 to reserve a spot.

Originally published in Ventana Monthly in April 2008.

Image courtesy of Horton Group.