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

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

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.”

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.”