Cocktail Corner: Wine & Fire

Courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Allliance

Courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Allliance

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

A weekend filled to the brim with world class wines and wood grilled food awaits Aug. 14-16 in Sta. Rita Hills. The Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance is pulling out all the stops for this annual event. It’s actually a series of intimate wine and food experiences, all of which sound amazing.

Wine and FireFirst up, next Friday night, Aug. 14 from 5-8 p.m., is the Kick Off Barn Party at Sanford & Benedict Barn. Set at the historic barn which housed the first winery in the Santa Rita Hills, located just above the iconic Sanford & Benedict vineyard, planted in 1971, winemakers will share their library stash, large format bottles and small production bottlings (all exclusive to this event) to get the party started, along with an assortment of pizzas and antipasti from Bello Forno Wood Fired Cuisine and live music by The Caverns .

Participating wineries (and wines) include: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards (library selection of Pinot Noirs & 2013 Barrel Select Pinot Noir); Babcock Winery; Bratcher (large format 2112 La Encantada Pinot Noir, 2112 Bentrock Pinot Noir); Brewer-Clifton; Cargasacchi (Cargasacchi Sta. Rita Hills 2012 Pinot Noir); Crawford Family Wines (past vintages of Pinot Noir from magnum); Fiddlehead Cellars (2006 ‘Seven Twenty Eight’ Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard SRH – 3 Liter, 2010 ‘Seven Hundred Twenty Eight, Bubbles’ Blanc de Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard, SRH – 750ml, 2011 ‘Lollapalooza’ Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard, SRH – 750ml); Flying Goat Cellars (2010 Flying Goat Cellars Rio Vista Vineyard Clone 667 (MAGNUM); 2005 Flying Goat Cellars Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard; 2012 Goat Bubbles Blanc de Noirs Clos Pepe Vineyard); FOXEN Vineyard & Winery; Gainey Vineyard (Evan’s Ranch 2013 Morgan’s Pinot Noir); Hilliard Bruce (2012 Moon Pinot Noir); Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wines (Rio Vista Pinot Noir, Perfect Set Pinot Noir, Cargasacchi Pinot Noir); Jalama Wines (2012 Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard); Ken Brown Wines (2004 Clos Pepe, 2005 Sanford & Benedict, 2005 Cargasacchi, 2006 Clos Pepe & 2006 Cargasacchi); and Kessler – Haak (Library 2008, 2010, 2012 Chardonnay, 2009 Pinot Noir, 2010 2A Pinot Noir, 2010 Pommard Pinot Noir).

Additional participating wineries (and wines) include: LaMontagne Winery (Magnum of Kessler – Haak Pinot Noir & 2011 Huber Vineyard Pinot Noir); Liquid Farm (White Hill, Golden Slope, Four); Loring Wine Company (2010 Cargasacchi Pinot Noir, 2010 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir, 2010 Rancho La Vina Pinot Noir); Montemar (2011 large-format Pinot Noirs from La Encantada, Rio Vista, Santa Rita Hills); Pali Wine Co. (Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir Vertical: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011); Rozak (2006 & 2007 Estate Pinot Noir); Sanford Winery & Vineyards (Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Viognier, La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir Magnum); Seagrape Wine Company (2013 Chardonnay & 2012 Pinot Noir Rancho la Vina); Siduri Wines (2013 Siduri Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, 2013 Siduri Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir); Thorne Wine (2010, 2011 Thorne Pinot Noir, Rio Vista Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills) and Transcendence (2012 Zotovich Chardonnay & 2012 La Encantada Pinot Noir).

Courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Allliance

Courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Allliance

The Saturday morning seminar (Aug. 15 from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Sanford & Benedict Barn) pays homage to fire. “And the Secret Ingredient is…. Fire” will spotlight the fire and passion of local chefs and their four unique grilling styles. BBQ Masters Frank Ostini of The Hitching Post II (which specializes in Open Pit Red Oak BBQ, a central coast classic BBQ style that is gaining attention nationwide), Matt Toll of Tollhouse BBQ (a smoking expert for the long slow cook with his dry rub spices and big rig smoker), Argentine BBQ Rodrigo Gimenez (who will demonstrate a technique fashioned by the gauchos for hundreds of years, which has been the traditional method for grilling in Argentina), and wood fired pizza chef extraordinaire Steve Clifton (local expert on everything Italian and noted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer of Brewer-Clifton) will share some hot grilling tips. Then the chefs will team up with Sta. Rita Hills winemakers to pair wine and delicious BBQ, all accompanied by The Luck, an Americana band from the Lompoc area.

The Wine and Fire Grand Tasting at La Purisima Mission is Saturday evening’s highlight (Aug. 15, 5-8 p.m.), where more than 40 member wineries and sizzling local chefs and farmers will be on hand for an evening of chillin’ and grillin’. Avant, Babe Farms, Campbell Farms, Central Coast Specialty Foods, Homegrown Cowboy, The Hitching Post II, Los Amigos BBQ, RGC Argentine BBQ, Tollhouse BBQ, Scratch Kitchen and the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers will be serving up an amazing selection of local food favorites. Father-daughter duo Country Heart will play live music throughout the evening.

Courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Allliance

Courtesy Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Allliance

Participating wineries include: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards; Babcock; Bratcher; Brewer-Clifton; Cargasacchi; Carr Winery; Clos Pepe Estate; Crawford Family Wines; Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyards; Dragonette Cellars; Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard; Fiddlehead Cellars; Flying Goat Cellars; Foley Winery; FOXEN; Gainey; Hilliard Bruce; Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Wines; Huber Cellars; Jalama Wines; Ken Brown Wines; Kessler – Haak and Kita.

Additional participating wineries include: Lafond Winery; LaMontagne Winery; Liquid Farm; Longoria; Loring Wine Company; Lutum; Montemar; Pali Wine Co; Paul Lato Wines; Rozak; Sanford Winery & Vineyards; Seagrape Wine Company; Sea Smoke; Siduri Wines; Transcendence; Wan Fiore Project and Zotovich Cellars.

In addition to these ticketed events, many of the Sta. Rita Hills wineries will be hosting special open house events over the weekend. Visit for more details and to purchase 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 Magazine on August 7, 2015.


Cocktail Corner: Taste the Future of Wine at Les Marchands

Santa Barbara County Wine Futures TastingA spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg  |

After last year’s super successful first “Funk Zone version” of the Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding numero due, especially since an exclusive Friday evening event was added to the mix, taking place on April 18.

Unlike a typical Winemaker’s Dinner, this gathering will echo what has gone on for generations in Europe but was formally organized in the 1920’s by Count Lafon as La Paulee de Meursault with a celebration in Burgundy marking the end of harvest. With that in mind, this will be a harvest style celebration of bringing and sharing superb wines.  Les Marchands has invited several winemakers to participate and in generosity they have agreed to bring along Santa Barbara County wines from their cellars—fun, unique, aged, new, unreleased, large format—the variety will be truly memorable.

Confirmed winemakers and proprietors attending include Zotovich Cellars, Ojai, Tyler Winery, Wenzlau Vineyard, Sillix, Chanin, Storm Wines and Sandhi, with a few more in the works.

Expanding on the theme, Les Marchands is encouraging guests to bring a wine from Santa Barbara County to share since the evening is centered around sharing, enjoying, and learning about the expressive wines of Santa Barbara County.

SBCWFTDinner2014-2855The menu includes:

Farmer’s Market Crudite Platter with Seasonal Vegetables, Herbed Goat Cheese, Black Pepper Creme Fraiche, and Romesco Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Chives and House-made Potato Chip

Grilled Tri-tip, Salsa Verde served with Rosemary Potatoes, Grilled Broccolini with Lemon Zest and Chili Flakes, Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

Rori’s Ice Cream
Cost is $85 per person, and reservations can be made by clicking here.

That’s just the beginning of this delicious world of fun.

On Saturday, April 19, more than 50 of the hottest local wineries will gather for an exclusive tasting next door to Les Marchands at 131 Anacapa St., which will be transformed into an indoor tasting room. Attendees have the rare opportunity to be among the first to taste and purchase special cuvees available prior to release at a 20% discount off standard retail price. Historic producers like Au Bon Climat and Qupe are confirmed to attend, alongside upcoming stars like Tyler, Sillix, Zotovich, Tatomer, Habit Wine Company and Wenzlau.

Tickets for the 2014 Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant’s Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting are $70 with advance purchase on the Les Marchands website or $80 at the door. The event will take place from noon-4 p.m.


Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on March 21, 2014.

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.”