<![CDATA[Santa Barbara Wine Country - BLOG]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:38:39 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Wine Enthusiast Magazine Top 100 Wines of 2015 Includes Two Wines from Santa Barbara County]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:21:27 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/wine-enthusiast-magazine-top-100-wines-of-2015-includes-two-wines-from-santa-barbara-county
Wine Enthusiast magazine has released its end of the year Top 100 Wines of 2015 and we are happy to announce that two Santa Barbara County wines made the list:  Melville 2013 Verna's syrah and the Foxen 2012 7200 Grassini Family Vineyard cabernet sauvignon. Congratulations to the wineries and their wine making and grape growing teams for producing outstanding wines and helping carry the Santa Barbara County wine flag!

While Santa Barbara County's largest vineyard plantings are for pinot noir and chardonnay, many different grape varieties thrive here in different parts of the county. (Read more here about the five unique growing regions of Santa Barbara County.)  Syrah finds success in parts of the Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley, including the Sta. Rita Hills and Ballard Canyon. Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, because of its more Eastern inland location, is quite warm in the summer, allowing for the perfect ripening of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties.

#32 Meville 2013 Verna's Syrah (Santa Barbara County) $28 - 94 points

This is likely the last vintage from this vineyard, which the family winery seemingly mastered in this bottling. There’s an underlying umami-driven smoked meat backbone to the nose that also shows bold cherry blossom, olallieberry, pepper, dried herbs and blackberry-soy sauce. The palate is complex yet doesn’t overpower, with bits of purple flowers, blueberry, black pepper and menthol. —M.K

#18 Foxen 2012 Grassini Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara) $44 - 95 points

Amazing aromas of cherry, cedar, cocoa powder and vanilla-clove cigarettes hit the nose on this stellar interpretation of the six-year-old appellation. It’s supple and rich on the palate, with mocha, juicy red berries and plenty of exciting zing. —M.K. 
<![CDATA[“W.I.N.O. Radio Dinner Show” Returns to Bedford Winery on Halloween Night]]>Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:01:47 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/wino-radio-dinner-show-returns-to-bedford-winery-on-halloween-nightPicture
If “A Prairie Home Companion” Were Set In Wine Country. The legendary Bedford Winery Players return to Los Alamos at Bedford Winery on Halloween night for the 13th annual production of the W.I.N.O. Radio Dinner Show. The original production, which has been compared to “Prairie Home Companion” set in wine country, embraces the comedy and spontaneity of an old-time, live radio show of yesteryear. The event includes a fresh harvest dinner created by the winery’s long-standing Kitchen Crew and is served with Bedford’s distinctive Los Alamos Valley wines.

This year’s production, featuring down-home host “Garrison Sanders,” offers a variety of skits, monologues and musical features, including the latest installment in the Wine Detective Pinot Noir series. The slightly tipsy Captain Bucky, the comedic creation of puppeteer Kevin Carlson, will also make an appearance. Award-winning artist Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band also will provide live bluegrass throughout the evening. Halloween costumes are also encouraged, and prizes will be given in a variety of categories.

“We have been putting on live productions like this for over 25 years,” says winemaker Stephan Bedford. “And it never gets old. The caliber and creativity of these artists never ceases to amaze me. It’s a treat to bring them to Santa Barbara County year after year.”

The evening begins with a wine reception at 5:00 p.m. followed by dinner and the performance. It all takes place under the stars in the Bedford Winery Courtyard, located at 448 Bell Street, downtown Los Alamos. Tickets are $60 per person ($50 for Bedford Wine Club Members), which includes diner and a glass of wine.  Seating is limited and this event sells out quickly. For reservations call 805 344-2107 or email tastingroom@bedfordwinery.com.

The Bedford Winery Players is a collection of professional actors, musicians, puppeteers, directors, costume designers and writers from the Los Angeles area who have brought live theater to Bedford Winery events since the mid-1990s.

Winemaker Stephan Bedford has crafted distinctive wines in Santa Barbara County since 1984. Along with his signature barrel-fermented Chardonnay and Syrah, he specializes in antique locally sourced varieties such as dry Chenin Blanc and Riesling, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Franc and Grenache.  The Tasting Room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week in downtown Los Alamos.

<![CDATA[Furry Faces of Santa Barbara Wine Country]]>Sat, 22 Aug 2015 00:19:50 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/furry-faces-of-santa-barbara-wine-countryWhere tasting room staff and managers are busy pouring wine or attending to customers and business, there are also many dogs & cats busy soaking up the sun or happily greeting guests! While many Santa Barbara County tasting rooms have furry friends of their own, there are also many tasting rooms that welcome dogs to come visit too. We’ve spoken to some wineries about their pet-friendly accommodations: tasty dog treats, water bowls, and some shade from this summer weather. Foxen’s two tasting rooms, The Shack and 7200, both welcome visiting dogs to shade, water, and treats. And they even have some furry friends of their own.

Andrew Murray provides dog accommodation in their main tasting room where their “pet station” has a water bowl and little baggies to keep clean! But more often than not, dogs are welcome in most tasting rooms in the area. But as we did some research—we found that many wineries & tasting rooms have pets of their own. So meet these dogs & cats who appreciate wine just as much as we do. 

<![CDATA[The Santa Barbara Wine Country Photo Journal | Harvest Fresh]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 04:39:30 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/the-santa-barbara-wine-country-photo-journal-harvest-freshOur photo journal continues this week with many wineries, including Longoria and Dierberg, sharing their harvest updates. The multi-year drought conditions continue pushing picking dates earlier for many producers than previous years, though not for all.  There is a lot of variability being reported from vineyard site to vineyard site with producers forecasting a high quality vintage with smaller yields than 2014.  Elsewhere in Santa Barbara Wine Country, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail recently renovated their outdoor patio, and is a beautiful spot to share a freshly prepared wine country picnic.  (Remember to pack your picnics when traveling throughout the region as county regulations don't allow for wineries to operate on-site restaurants.)  Many wineries and tasting rooms have designated picnic areas, though we suggest calling ahead to confirm availability.

The harvest crew, including legendary winemaker Rick Longoria, of @longoriawines
Longoria Wines was established in 1982 by Rick and Diana Longoria. Rick is one of the pioneers of the Santa Barbara County wine region, having been involved with local wine production since 1976. In 1998 Rick planted his first estate vineyard in Santa Rita Hills, a 10-acre site named Fe Ciega which is planted to 9 acres of Pinot Noir and 1 acre of Chardonnay. Also that year he moved his wine production facility to the city of Lompoc, becoming the first commercial winery there. Rick and Diana also established their tasting room in downtown Los Olivos in 1998. In addition to the Tasting Room in Los Olivos, you are also invited to visit the Longoria Winery in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto.  The production of Longoria Wines remains very small with an average of 3,000 cases annually. This small production allows Rick to personally handcraft every wine to a very high standard year after year.   Learn more about Longoria Wines.
Associate winemaker foot stomping some whole cluster bins of Pinot Noir at @dierberg_starlane. Photo credit @connick56.
Comprised of two brands Dierberg Vineyard and Star Lane Vineyard; our wines showcase the different micro-climates and terroir of Santa Barbara County.  The Dierberg label focuses on the more delicate and elegant Burgundy varieties; whereas Star Lane focuses on the more robust and powerful Bordeaux varieties.  Owners, Jim and Mary Dierberg, began this project in 1996 by purchasing the three properties throughout Santa Barbara County in order to accomplish their goal of producing ultra-premium wines. Their dedication to producing the highest quality wines can be seen from the vineyard selections, through the wine making process, to the wine in your glass.  Learn more about Dierberg and Star Lane.
Wine & food writer @wendythiessell enjoyed a fresh heirloom tomato & burrata salad at @fessparkerwinery, celebrating their new patio.
The Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard grew out of Fess' vision for the promise of Santa Barbara County as a premier viticultural region. Established in 1989, the family immediately began planting some of the country's most renowned vineyards. Outstanding fruit sources coupled with skilled winemaking - in the past decade both Eli Parker and later Blair Fox, were named Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco International Wine Competition - are at the core of delivering wines of the highest quality to our consumer. The winery is located on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. It is surrounded by pastureland and vineyard with views from the tasting room that take in the majestic San Rafael mountain range. The vibe in the tasting room is casual and friendly and the grounds are a wonderful place to relax and enjoy our world class wines in one of the prettiest spots in Santa Barbara wine country.  Learn more about Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard.
<![CDATA[Seventeen Santa Barbara County Restaurants Receive Awards From Wine Spectator]]>Sat, 08 Aug 2015 00:58:20 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/fifteen-santa-barbara-wine-spectator-restaurant-awards-2015
Please note:  an earlier version of this post inadvertently forget to include Cielito Restaurant and The Far Western Tavern to the list of award winners.  Our apologies.

In this month's edition of Wine Spectator, the 2015 Restaurant Awards were announced and seventeen Santa Barbara County restaurants have made the list! With three tiers of award levels, about 3,600 restaurants were awarded worldwide. Congratulations and make sure to add these restaurants to your lists!

Award of Excellence: first tier, "for lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Typically these lists offer at least 90 selections" (Wine Spectator). 

The Best of Award of Excellence: second-tier award, "these lists display either vintage depth, with vertical offerings of several top producers from major regions, or excellent breadth spread over several winegrowing regions. These wine lists typically offer 400 or more selections, along with superior presentation; some offer more than 1,000 selections" (Wine Spectator).

And finally, the Grand Award: the highest award, "given to restaurants that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine program. These restaurants typically offer 1,500 selections or more, and feature serious breadth of top producers, outstanding depth in mature vintages, a selection of large-format bottles, excellent harmony with the menu, and superior organization, presentation and wine service" (Wine Spectator).  
<![CDATA[The Santa Barbara Wine Country Photo Journal]]>Mon, 03 Aug 2015 19:04:36 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/the-santa-barbara-wine-country-photo-journalEvery Monday we are going to share a few of our favorite Instagram photos from the previous week. If you want your photos to be possibly featured simply use #sbcwine to grant us permission to repost. 

This week we go on a wine country tour for a birthday celebration, go hot air ballooning, and taste wine with a legendary food writer.  Your journey starts here...
A birthday celebration with @sbclassicwinetours
About Classic Wine Tours:  With breathtaking coastal mountains to the east and sublime beaches to the west, Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Our wine country is no exception. If your travels take you to Santa Barbara, a guided tour of the area’s boutique wineries is not to be missed. Travel in the comfort of our fully air conditioned Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, with large windows offering fantastic views of the local vineyards and wineries. Santa Barbara Classic Wine Tours is committed to providing you with an unforgettable experience in the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez wine country. Your guide will pickup you up at your hotel or other designated location anywhere within the greater Santa Barbara area. Each day tour will consist of four tastings at various wineries and tasting rooms. Included with each tour is an artisan picnic lunch at one of the winery stops.  We offer a tailored tour that includes a variety of estate wineries, unique tasting room experiences, and an artisan picnic lunch. Join us for a day exploring all that Santa Barbara wine country has to offer!  Learn more.
Over wine country with @skysthelimitsyv
About Sky's the Limit Ballooning Adventures:  Soar to new heights with our daily morning Santa Barbara balloon rides! With over 100 wineries in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley, the year-round near perfect climate and light prevailing winds in the Central Coast makes this an ideal place for ballooning. We offer 45 minutes to 1 hour duration flights that capture views over the beautiful wine country surrounded by Transverse Mountain Ranges, the Channel Islands, Lake Cachuma and the historic towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, Buellton, Santa Maria, and Paso Robles.  Learn more.
Food writer Betty Fussell captured by @amydickerson_photographs
About Betty Fussell:  For the past fifty years, Betty Fussell has been writing articles and books on the subject of what it is to be an American, first looking at movies and theater and then at food. Her most recent, and eleventh, book is Raising Steaks: The Life & Times of American Beef (2008). In this she takes up the historical epic she began in The Story of Corn (1992), which won the IACP’s Jane Grigson Award for Scholarship. In between she wrote a food memoir, My Kitchen Wars (1999), which was performed in Hollywood and New York as a one-woman show by actress Dorothy Lyman. In 2007 she won a James Beard Foundation Award for Journalism for “American Prime” in Saveur’s Steak Issue of July. She was recently celebrated, along with other winners of the Silver Spoon Award, by Food Arts Magazine, for which she has long been a Contributing Authority.  Learn more.

<![CDATA[Santa Barbara is a Top Pick by Conde Nast Traveler Readers]]>Sat, 01 Aug 2015 18:45:57 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/santa-barbara-is-a-top-pick-by-conde-naste-traveler-readersReaders of Conde Nast Traveler in 2014 picked their favorite small cities in American and we are thrilled that Santa Barbara made the list.  See the complete list of winning destinations here.

@yummymummykitchen on Instagram
Some of our favorite things about Santa Barbara:

1. Wine for everyone.  Our region grows more than 50 different types of grapes with chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, and sauvignon blanc being the most widely available.)

2. A diverse wine country experience with urban and vineyard tasting venues.

3.  Wine  for lovers.  Santa Barbara is a romantic and energizing city.

4. Beautiful beaches and coastline.  The Gaviota Coast is one of the world's most stunning locations.

5. Superb food scene.  From taquerias to farm-to-table bistos to ice cream shops. (McConnell's ice cream was founded here.)

6. Relaxed, but sophisticated vibe.  Imagine surfers partying with polo players.

7. Easy to get to (by plane, train, automobile, bus, and bicycle for the fitness enthusiasts.)

Share below your favorite things about Santa Barbara or use #seesb on Instagram.
@danielcortes__ on Instagram
@omgsomuchcaffeine on Instagram
@cvwpics on Instagram
<![CDATA[Nine Santa Barbara County Wineries Make Top 101 List]]>Fri, 24 Jul 2015 04:35:06 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/nine-santa-barbara-county-wineries-make-top-101-list
A lot of media outlets publish"top 10 this" and "top 100 that" lists.  Even for the same topic, each of these lists will have different results.  However arbitrary they are, the lists can be a fun way to discover new places to visit or wines to try.

Today The Daily Meal released its "101 Best Wineries of America for 2015" (see the entire list here) and we are pleased to see nine Santa Barbara County wineries on the list including:

Andrew Murray #59
Au Bon Climat #3
Beckmen #66
Domaine de la Cote #33
Foxen #61
Jaffurs #67
Sandhi #79
Tensley #55
Qupe #27

So what  are your picks for top wineries in Santa Barbara County?
<![CDATA[Where Art & Wine Collide]]>Tue, 21 Jul 2015 23:46:42 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/where-art-wine-collide
 “One person will love a Cabernet and the next person a Pinot, just like one person will love abstract and the next, Impressionism.”

Artiste Winery located in Los Olivos, California provides a unique twist to the tasting room experience. With walls and ceilings covered in colorful art and wines blended by the winemaker, Bion Rice, the two artistic forms collide to form complex masterpieces. In the same room, you can taste wine and paint a picture on your own; a space and team that clearly supports and invites its customers to think creatively and independently.

Artiste’s wine labels are a fascinating element alone, each bottle is labeled with an artist’s work from California all the way to Ohio and South Carolina. I spoke to Laurie Blundell, the General Manager at Artiste Winery to hear more about how exactly these art labels are chosen. Blundell states, “We rotate their works on each new release, 4-5 a year and when chosen, they become the featured artist and the majority of our studio is dedicated to their paintings. We put a lot of effort into selecting the perfect art piece to accompany Bion’s blend. Sometimes the art directs the blend, and sometimes the blend directs the art. The creative process is alive throughout the entire process.”

It has become a popular and highly rewarding experience now for visitors and locals to spend an afternoon outside in a vineyard whilst painting and drinking local wines. I spoke with Christi Schaeffer, the creator of Gypsy Studios, who gave me enriching information on the creation and background of the studio. Christi has always enjoyed creating but found a real passion for art when she studied at Santa Barbara City College for a few years and traveled to Florence, Italy to study in more depth. After living and working in Los Angeles, she soon came back to the valley and began to work in the industry (at Kaena, Figueroa Mountain Brewery & Kalyra). Christi notes, “This was when the idea for painting classes at vineyards came to me. It was a perfect blend of my favorite things. How could I not give it a shot?! So, January of this year, Gypsy Studios was born....as a sole proprietorship. I started practice events in my parents' living room and the folks over at Kalyra were really great about letting me host events there as I was getting started on my days off. That's how it started.”

As business began to expand, Christi realized she was going to need more help and reached out to her best friend, Heidi Riehl, who was also working in the industry but was located in Willamette Valley. Heidi made the move to Santa Barbara County and the two became partners in March 2015.

Gypsy Studios brands itself as a “mobile art class business,” a business that is quite literally on wheels. Christi states, “We conduct painting classes all over the Santa Ynez Valley and mostly in a plein air environment, meaning outside, capturing the landscape as it is on that given day, often accompanied by great wines from the valley.” So just like Artiste Winery, Gypsy Studios has found the correlation between the two art forms, both are creatively complex and enjoyed in a personal, unique way.
      "This is such a cool pairing, if you will, especially during our Painting in the Vineyard sessions, where we use the parallel between the artistry and unique approach of each winemaker to how each individual has a unique style and approach to art. The whole experience is a feast for the senses. Often times the winery's winemaker or tasting room staff will share about the vineyard's history, the vision for their wine and vineyard, and the style of the wine. It really brings the whole experience together." Christi Schaeffer
"Painting crew at Lafond today. Awesome morning. Great job, painters!"
Naturally, I wondered whether the Painting in the Vineyard sessions were not only open but conducive for beginners. The idea of sitting in front of a blank canvas encouraged to paint the Sta. Rita Hills could seem a bit daunting to some but Christi assured me her classes are actually taught assuming everyone is a beginner. In the class, “guests are invited to paint whatever they'd like, but Christi provides step-by-step instruction for a specific view. She walks guests through everything--from perspective, composition, color-mixing, application, and the hows & whys behind it all.” Gypsy Studios notes that their aim for their guests doesn’t reside in painting “the perfect picture” but rather to find appreciation, self-awareness, and pride in your own unique and creative expression.

We have found where art and wine collide, how the two not only overlap in their artistic production but also in how they are enjoyed, celebrated, and experienced. While the valley is full, ever-expanding with wine producers and tasting rooms, the union with art brings in a special and personal touch. 

And so, in lieu of tasting notes, Artiste Winery asks you: “What’s your Impression?”

Thank you, Christi Schaeffer and Laurie Blundell for your time and words. 

Gypsy Studios:
We do Painting in the Vineyard events for groups up to 30, private classes for individuals, company team-building painting sessions, six-week series small-group painting classes, private painting in the vineyard events, and birthdays. 

Summer Painting in the Vineyards:
July 25, 2015:  Pence Ranch
July 26, 2015: Hilliard Bruce 
August 1, 2015: Kenneth Volk
August 8, 2015: Sanford Winery
August 23, 2015: Dierberg Tasting Room
August 30, 2015: Brander Vineyard

Artiste Winery: 
2948 Grand Ave, Studio E. Los Olivos

Daily 11am-5:30pm (Last tasting at 5:15pm)
Tasting fee: $15.00 *Groups over 10 people please review Private Tasting pages for pricing and reservations.

Studio is open til 2pm on July 4, 2015
(Studio is closed on the following Holidays: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Jan 1)

Coming up at Artiste:
August 8, 2015: Blending with winemaker, Bion Rice
August 8, 2015: Quarterly Waxing Party
"All in the family at @artistewinery #LiveAldoDemo"
Written by: Kendall Busby, Marketing and Communications Intern at Santa Barbara Vintners. Thank you for reading!
<![CDATA[Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and now Busses]]>Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:55:05 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/blog/planes-trains-automobiles-and-now-busses
We are excited to announce that starting Saturday, July 11, the Clean Air Express will offer Saturday only bus service to and from Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley (Los Olivos, Solvang, Buellton) for only $7 per person, each way.

Staying in Santa Barbara?  Pick up the bus at one of four Santa Barbara locations between 10:25-10:45 a.m. for arrival in the Santa Ynez Valley between 11:40 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. and pick-up the return bus between 4:00 - 4:20 p.m.

Staying in the Santa Ynez Valley?  Pick up the bus in Solvang or Buellton between 9:30 a.m. - 9:40 a.m. for arrival into Santa Barbara between 10:25 a.m. - 10:45 p.m. and pick-up the return bus between 5:00 p.m. - 5:20 p.m.

View and download the Saturday only bus schedule or call (805) 692-1902

Arriving by plane, train, or automobile instead?  Click here for more ways to get to Santa Barbara Wine Country.