<![CDATA[Santa Barbara Wine Country - BLOG]]>Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:07:43 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Les Marchands Announces participating wineries for 2nd annual Santa barbara county wine futures tasting]]>Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:34:12 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/04/les-marchands-announces-participating-wineries-for-2nd-annual-santa-barbara-county-wine-futures-tasting.html
First Tasting of Cuvees before Public Release to be Held on April 19, 2014 in The Funk Zone
Santa Barbara, California; April 7, 2014 — Master Sommelier Brian McClintic and Sommelier Eric Railsback, partners of Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant,  the award-winning wine bar and retail shop in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, announce the 2nd Annual 2014 Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting. On Saturday, April 19, 2014, more than 40 of the hottest local wineries will gather for an exclusive tasting next door to Les Marchands at 131 Anacapa Street, 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. The Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting will shine a light on the emerging local wine area and allow consumers and trade to secure allocations of the most dynamic and relevant producers of the region. Notable producers this year are Ava, Alma Rosa, Alta Maria, Au Bon Climat, Bien Nacido, Carlson, Cebada, Cent’Anni, Chanin, Clendenen Family, Domaine de la Cote, Goodland, Grassini, Habit, Jaffurs, Kunin, La Fenetre, Lieu Dit, Lutum, Mes Amis, Municipal Winemakers, My Essential Red, Native 9, Ojai, Piedrasassi, Presqu’ile, Qupé, Roark, Sandhi, Sillix, Star Lane Vineyards/Dierberg, Stolpman, Storm, Tatomer, Tyler, Vallin, Wenzlau, Whitcraft, WPA and Zotovich. Tickets for the 2014 Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant’s Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting are $70 for advance purchase on the Les Marchands website or $80 at the door. The event will take place from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. next door to Les Marchands at 131 Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara. Parking is available on the street or adjacent parking lots.

An added component this year is a limited seating Winemaker's Dinner on Friday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at Les Marchands. Chef Weston Richards menu will be a harvest style celebrationwith winemakers and guests bringing and sharing superb wines.  This concept was originally conceived in the 1920's by Count Lafon as La Paulee de Meursault, a celebration in Burgundy marking the end of harvest. Les Marchands has invited several winemakers including Zotovich, Ojai, Tyler, Wenzlau, Sillix, Chanin, Storm, Presqu'ile, and Sandhi with a few more in the works. The winemakers will bring fun, unique, aged, new, unreleased, large format Santa Barbara County wines from their cellars to make the dinner memorable. Guests are encouraged to bring their own favorite wine from Santa Barbara County to share with members around the table. Pricing is $85 per person, all-inclusive; tickets may be purchased by visiting the Les Marchands website.

The Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting exists to raise awareness of the pedigree and diversity of our local terroir.  Santa Barbara County is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most exciting regions in the country to make wine. Prominent figures in the industry from around the world are recognizing the tremendous potential of the inlying appellations: Santa Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Happy Canyon.  The unique soil and climatic conditions of this coastal hamlet are inspiring ambitious new wine projects. Les Marchands intends to spotlight the small, hidden gem producers while paying homage to the pioneering wineries that paved the way.  

In years past, the Wine Cask made the Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting one of the premiere tasting events in the country.  Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant aims to build upon the foundation that Doug Margerum and his team laid down and continue to grow the event in scope and importance.

About Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant

Recently awarded the “Wine Bar of the Year” by Imbibe, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant is a labor of love between two sommeliers whose wine trips to Paris and Burgundy have inspired a fresh and dynamic vision for retail, dining, and education.   Translated as ‘the merchants’ or ‘the shopkeepers,’ McClintic and Railsback create an environment where intimate product knowledge meets personalized service.  This philosophy is lived out nightly in the wine bar but is integral to every phase of their business from private cellar consultation to custom education classes to the launching of Les Marchand’s wine clubs.  The great wine merchants Eric and Brian have admired over the years distinguish themselves by seeking out quality-conscious producers.  Their import selections are Eurocentric, representing the most relevant producers in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, and beyond.  On the domestic side, the focus relies heavily on local producers who are shaping and redefining the region.

Les Marchand’s commitment to sourcing out the finest products starts in the cellar and spills over into the kitchen where quality meets execution and the simplest dishes on their menu aspire to greatness. Share some mainstays from their cheese and charcuterie program, such as Camembert with Straus Dairy butter and freshly sliced Jamon Serrano. Guests can drop in and enjoy seasonal offerings prepared by Chef Weston Richards including local Hope Ranch smoked mussels, pork rillettes, and local farmers market pickled vegetables.  Stay up to date on special events and offerings by joining their mailing list, including weekly rituals, such as Ramen Noodles every Friday night and the renown Monday Night Special Menu and Flight of  Wine.

About Brian McClintic

Brian brings 15 years of hospitality experience with him to Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, a career spanning the major restaurant hubs of Los Angeles, Aspen, San Francisco, and now Santa Barbara. McClintic was one of four subjects featured in the acclaimed documentary SOMM, which chronicled his journey to the elusive Master Sommelier title, becoming the 107th individual in the U.S. to attain this honor. SOMM, distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, opened in 2013, receiving rave reviews by the public and film critics.  In addition to Les Marchands, Brian, and business partner Eric Railsback, have teamed up on a Santa Barbara Syrah project called Vallin, along with local winemaker Justin Willett and fellow Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson.

About Eric Railsback

Eric’s emergence in the wine industry began taking shape in Santa Barbara nearly a decade ago.  After stints at the Wine Cask and the Hungry Cat, Railsback furthered his exposure to different regions and producers at Osteria Mozza and running the wine program at Gordon Ramsey in Los Angeles.  Eric has a strong connection to the wines of Burgundy.  Fluent in French and working harvests all over Europe, Eric brought his talents to Michael Mina’s RN74 – a premiere Burgundy-inspired restaurant in San Francisco.  There, he led a team of sommeliers for over three years before bringing it back full circle to Santa Barbara with the opening of Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant.
l-r /Brian McClintic and Eric Railsback | photo Emily Railsback
for more information the public can visit
Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, California 93101
at the corner of Yanonali and Anacapa
join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LesMarchandsWine
follow us on Twitter: @LesMarchandsSB
<![CDATA[Marriott’s Walking Distance]]>Wed, 02 Apr 2014 23:27:46 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/04/marriotts-walking-distance.htmlShawn - also known as the Wandering Wino - is the Wine Bloggers Conference ambassador for the Santa Barbara Vintners. This is the first of a series of articles for conference attendees. 

When travelers get to planning those fun and exciting trips, often the anticipation, research, and discovery can provide a lot of positive emotional mileage before one even gets close to an airport. Travel agents, Google maps, Yelp, suggestions of locals, concierge and, of course, our very own Santa Barbara County Wines can often be great resources. 

For all the wine-blogging rock-stars headed to Santa Barbara County this July, consider this to be custom concierge "Cliff Notes." Good beer, wine, food, and anything fun within 1 mile or so from the host hotel (Buellton Marriottis often considered gold. This is wine country, and taxi cabs are not exactly plentiful in Santa Barbara. Depending on a traveler's shoes, physique, and "condition" of his/her condition, the distance he/she will want to walk will vary. Climate, of course, will not be a factor; after all, this is Santa Barbara in July. 
One Way Distance Key
Stone's Throw - 100 yards or less
Lace Up - 101 yards to .9 mile
Hitch a Ride - 1 mile + 

Lace Up: Cold Heaven
92 2nd Street, Buellton, CA
Standing Sun - Next door
For those too "over-the-top" excited to get their wine-tasting experience started, stumble on over all the way across the street to Cold Haven. While we are only talking the distance it takes from home plate to second base, one might be challenged by playing "Frogger" across the 101, so put your high heels away for this .7 of a mile walk. 

Around these parts, Morgan Clendenen is known as "the Queen." Most people think of Morgen as the Queen of Viognier; however, a few might suggest she's the Queen of comedic sarcasm. Cold Haven primarily produces stellar Viognier and Pinot Noir. Should you happen to trip out the door, you could find yourself inside another tasting room which is not currently a member of the association, so "Shhh" cause you didn't hear it here. Evenings at Standing Sun is often a party atmosphere with live music, wine by the glass/tasting/bottle, and good finger foods. 

Lace Up: Ken Brown Wines
157 West Highway 246, Buellton, CA
For those looking to learn about Santa Barbara history, and the vineyards, visit master jedi Ben Kenobi, AKA industry legend Ken Brown. Bring your recording devices as you will not want to miss a thing. Ken Byron Brown has been producing wine in Santa Barbara County since the early/mid 1970's and continues to be a shining-star producing Pinot Noir's from several stellar vineyards. Ken Brown would likely be on many wine enthusiasts short list of people to seek out. Get those comfy shoes for this .7 of mile. 

Hitch a Ride: Loring/Cargasacchi
420 E. Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
Two wineries, one glass! Brian Loring and Peter Cargasacchi paired up in one location just 1.2 miles from the Marriott. Both wineries produce a few different varietals, however, both find common ground in Pinot Noir. Brian sources fruit from various parts of California and Oregon, while Peter picks from his two local vineyards Cargasacchi/Jalama just a short distance away. The Jalama vineyard just might be the closest vineyard to the ocean inside of Santa Barbara County, while Cargasacchi is part of the Sta Rita Hills AVA. Brian and Peter couldn't be more unique in both personality and wines. Be sure to bring your sense of humor and sarcasm dictionary, unless of course you are fluent. 

Lace Up: Hitching Post II
406 East Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
Feeling hungry, nostalgic, thirsty, or just want to see one of the best Santa Maria Style red oak BBQ spots around? Then walk .7 of a mile to The Hitching Post II. I have had the pleasure of eating there since the late '90's back when reservations were not as highly suggested as they are now. The movie Sideways has thrusted the restaurant into the limelight. If travelers aren't familiar with the great BBQ, well, it is on the suggested list. BBQ master Frank Ostini and wine business partner Grey Hartley have been producing their own Hitching Post II Pinot Noir for many years and have lots of local wines available in the full bar.

Lace Up+ or Hitch a Ride: Ostrich Land USA
610 East Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
If you are still feeling Sideways enthralled, then stop by Ostrich Land USA past the Hitching Post II.  This is only suggested for those with extra comfy shoes and interest, as this one stretches way past stumbling distance. If you're curious about this tasty bird, it has been a Hitching Post II menu item for years. This bird does not taste like chicken, but, in fact, just like steak.

Lace Up+ or Hitch a Short Ride 1.4 miles away: Avant Tapas and Wine
35 Industrial Way, Buellton, CA
If movie location shoots aren't your thing, then maybe tapas might have you at "Hello." Avant Tapas and Wine offers nearly 50 small/local producers by the ounce, glass, and bottle. Their full menu includes small/medium/large plates, pizzas, and tapas. Many smaller wine labels have their wine produced inside of this custom crush facility, named Taravant. Here at Avant, a guest can purchase a card to the self-serve great wall of wine, where one can create a personal wine-tasting experience.

Barefoot is really not suggested, but it really is that close. 
Stone's Throw: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
620 McMurray Rd, Buellton, CA
It is often said, "It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine." Recently I was talking with a sommelier at World of Pinot Noir. He shared his experience at Firestone, and described having three kegs of beer in his hotel room for the sommeliers' party. Who doesn't love a good palate cleanser, and what better than beer?

Firestone gratefully is one of the closest spots on our list, but be patient, as they do not open the doors until 4:00 PM. Firestone needs little introduction to the typical Californian; but, for those visiting, this is the same family that was in the tire business so many years ago. The story of how Firestone beer started is a great one, and well worth stumbling a straight path half a block to do some journalistic investigation.

Hitch a Ride: Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
45 Industrial Way, Buellton, CA       
Still got the buzz of beer interest, or just want to switch it up, then hitch a short ride to Figueroa Mountain Brewery. The nearest of their three locations isn't far from Avant, just about 1.5 miles from the Marriott. I think any visiting Oregonians might be pleasantly surprised.

Hitch a Ride - 1 mile: Industrial Eats
555 McMurray Rd, Buellton, CA
The big buzz in the area over the past months has been one of the newest restaurant editions to the area, Industrial Eats. Anyone, by now, may have seen the trend, yes, this fun eats is also located on Industrial Way. Lots of cool stops to visit on this small stretch of road that also is home to the California Highway Patrol. Stay safe all, and walking with a group can be a lot of fun.

Lace Up: Antonio's Pizza & Pasta
280 E. Hwy 246, Buellton, CA
After a long day of drinking, many might have a short list of dinner items that tend to please: Steak - Hitching Post II, Sushi - ARU Japanese (225 McMurray Rd), Mexican - Taco Roco (245 Avenue of Flags). Curious to continue down the local wine path while sharing a pizza with friends, then head over to Antonio's Pizza & Pasta. This locals pizza spot also carries a few local brews, to keep you emerged in Santa Barbara.
<![CDATA[Railsback's Recommendations: Where to drink wine in Santa barbara]]>Fri, 14 Mar 2014 20:31:31 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/03/railsbacks-recommendations-where-to-drink-wine-in-santa-barbara.htmlPicture
Our very own Eric Railsback, of Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant in Santa Barbara, has been named one of Food & Wine's 2014 Sommeliers of the Year.

He recently wrote an article for Food & Wine about Where to Drink Wine in Santa Barbara, CA., highlighting the top ten places to enjoy a glass of vino around the American Riviera. While some of the 
 places you've most likely frequented, there are a few surprise locations and wine recommendations to check out. Where are your favorite places to enjoy wine?

<![CDATA[Santa Barbara Vintners Festival expands to include four days and three nights of events]]>Tue, 11 Mar 2014 19:09:50 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/03/santa-barbara-vintners-festival-expands-to-include-four-days-and-three-nights-of-events.htmlPicture
The April Vintners Festival, for thirty years Santa Barbara County’s favorite way to taste wines and meet winemakers, has for 2014 expanded into the four-day Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, April 10-13, and includes vineyard hikes, barrel toasting seminar, winemaker dinners, golf tournament, winery open houses, and much more.

The Santa Barbara Vintners has joined forces with Solvang-based Relevé Unlimited and upped the ante and offerings for 2014. New this year are ten “Signature Events” focusing on education, wine, food, and Santa Barbara County’s world-class vineyards, bucolic towns, and the gorgeous city of Santa Barbara.  Additionally, more than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms are hosting individual events.

On Saturday, April 12, is the weekend’s crown jewel, the annual Vintners Festival Grand Tasting, held this year from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Buellton’s beautiful River View Park. The more than 100 winery members of the Santa Barbara Vintners will pour their newest releases, and the county’s top-rated restaurants and caterers will offer bites and small plates of culinary goodness.  This year attendees will be able to purchase wine by the bottle or case and view the new Art Walk exhibit.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend opens at noon, Thursday, with a shotgun-start golf tournament at Goleta’s Sandpiper Golf Course, overlooking the ocean. Join host Rex Pickett, “Sideways” author and playwright, and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the film that showcased Santa Barbara County with a “Sideways” trivia contest.  Enjoy food from some of Santa Barbara’s food trucks and sip Foxen Vineyard & Winery and William James Cellars wines from stations right on the course.

After golf, drive up the coast along Route 101 to enjoy the Sta. Rita Hills AVA dinner and wine pairing at Buellton’s new hot restaurant, Industrial Eats, at 6:30 p.m.. The evening opens with a sparkling wine reception hosted by Clos Pepe Vineyards, followed by a delicious meal paired with wines produced in the AVA. Presenters include Clos Pepe’s Wes Hagen and Steve Pepe, Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Winery, and Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines, as well as wines from Dierberg Estate Vineyards.

Friday’s events begin at 9:00 a.m. with a day-long Wine Education Seminar Program at Hotel Corque in Solvang, featuring four seminar sessions, a gourmet lunch, and culinary/wine tasting stations. Topics of the seminars include: an overview of Santa Barbara County sparkling wine; a comparison of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs); a vertical seminar tasting; and an exploration of the wines from Bien Nacido. For more details on each seminar, visit www.sbvintnersweekend.com

Each seminar will include a handful of winemakers, who will share their experiences about the respective topics. Clos Pepe winemaker Wes Hagen will be the seminar series moderator. In addition to his role at Clos Pepe, Hagen has lectured at Cornell University, and researched and written the three most recently approved AVAs in Santa Barbara County — Sta. Rita Hills, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara and Ballard Canyon. He teaches a series of food and wine pairing classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria.

Friday afternoon includes Vineyard Hikes at five distinct vineyards in Santa Barbara County: Purisima Mountain, Baehner Fournier, Hilliard Bruce, Buttonwood, and Refugio Ranch.  

Friday evening features a Barrel Toasting Seminar and barrel tasting hosted in Buellton by a group of wineries, and, in Santa Barbara at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort Hotel, the 90+ Points Top Rated Wine & Dine event, featuring winemakers whose wines have earned 90 points and more from various critics.  Additionally, Brewer-Clifton, Brander Vineyard, and Flying Goat Cellars have events planned including a cheese pairing seminar, a seminar on Cabernet Sauvignon led by a Master of Wine, and a winemaker dinner at La Purisima Mission.

Saturday evening debuts the Vineyards Dinner Event featuring Sea Smoke, Grassini, Magerum, Dierberg, Kaena, Fiddlehead, and Andrew Murray at Grassini Family Vineyards in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. The four-course menu will be prepared by Village Modern Foods of Santa Barbara, and served under lakeside under oak trees, right in the vineyard.  Melville, Lucas & Lewellen, Foxen, and Longoria are also hosting Saturday evening wine dinners at special locations.

The final Signature Event of the Vintners Weekend is the Farm-to-Table Picnic and Concert at 11:00 a.m. Sunday and features Jamestown Revival at Fess Parker Winery on Foxen Canyon Road. Jamestown Revival has appeared on “Conan O’Brien,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and the KCRW radio show “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” The duo blends Americana/Folk, Texas twang and back porch indie rock.

Sunday is also the traditional day of the Spring Weekend when many wineries host open houses and special events. This year includes an impressive list of participants including:  Melville Winery, Pence Ranch, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, Au Bon Climate, Qupe, Brewer-Clifton, Flying Goat Cellars, Longoria Wines, and Kalyra Winery.

For more information about all the events throughout the weekend, as well as details on advance purchase tickets, visit www.sbcvintnerweekend.com or call 805-688-0881.  You can get daily weekend updates on social media using #sbvintnersfest.

<![CDATA[Presqu'ile Releases Friday Afternoon Live Music Series Lineup]]>Tue, 28 Jan 2014 19:02:40 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/01/presquile-releases-friday-afternoon-live-music-serieslineup.html
Presqu'ile just announced another great reason to check out their winery and tasting room in the Santa Maria Valley - their Friday Afternoon Music Series lineup:
  • January 31st: Ray Fortune (acoustic guitarist)
  • February 7th: Madison Murphy (the owner of Presqu'ile will be busting a tune on his guitar)
  • February 14th: Keith Cox (be serenaded on Valentine's day by Keith's acoustic, eclectic soft rock music)
  • February 21st: Jody Mulgrew (jazz inspired)

Presqu'ile Winery will be hosting complimentary concerts inside the tasting room every Friday afternoon from 3:30 - 5:30pm until February 21st. Get their $15 tasting flight highlighting a downright spicy Sauvignon Blanc, creamy Chardonnay, and two Santa Maria Valley vintage Pinot Noirs. Order a charcuterie or a cheese plate prepared by their in-house Chef Brian Evans, and relax to the music of a local musician, singer/songwriter, or even the winery’s owner himself!

If you haven't been to 5391 Presquile Drive, Santa Maria before, you've been missing out. Follow the signs to the sleek, modern tasting room atop a hill at the end of the long driveway. The high ceilings, natural stone and unfinished wood, and sweeping views of the estate below evoke a sense of grandeur that’s humbly brought to earth by the owner’s southern hospitality. After walking into the tasting room you’ll get a sense of what lies on the other end of the curved, barrel-lined hallway leading to the five story gravity-flow winery. If you’re really curious about discovering what's behind the "Employees Only" sign, make a reservation to come back for one of their daily 75 minute tours at either 11am or 2pm ($45 per person, reserve online). 
<![CDATA[Discover Santa Barbara International film Festival]]>Thu, 16 Jan 2014 05:22:17 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/01/discover-santa-barbara-international-film-festival.htmlPicture
Get ready to settle in and celebrate the best of independent film with the 29th edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The Film Festival begins on Thursday, January 30th with the Opening Night Film and Gala screening of Mission Blue at the beautiful Arlington Theater. “The importance of keeping a sense of exploration and being aware of global issues – as represented in our choice for opening night, Mission Blue – is an overriding theme in our 29th edition of SBIFF. That spirit carried over into every decision and influenced all of our exciting programs as well.” said SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. 

The Festival includes a broad selection of over 200 films from 60 countries. Watch the secrets of making Champagne be unveiled by the winemakers and families in A Year in Champagne; question reality and self-identity alongside students in a distant ashram in India in Gurukulam; follow a closeted cannibal as he falls in love with his prey in Cannibal ; and any topic in-between. The Festival concludes on Sunday, January 9th with the Before Trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

The 11 day event includes panels, seminars, tributes, and parties with up-and-coming filmmakers, esteemed honorees (including Cate Blanchett, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, and Emma Thompson), leading industry professionals, film aficionados, and critics. Enjoy watching films, listening to panel discussions, and networking in intimate settings throughout theaters in the American Riviera. View the event schedule and locations or purchase individual event tickets or ticket packages. The time and locations of events will be posted within the next few days so you can start planning your “to-see” list.

Don’t forget to savor Santa Barbara County’s excellent cuisine during the Film Festival with Film Feast! From January 30th – February 9th over 25 restaurants in the Santa Barbara area will be offering special prix fixe menus alongside 7 wineries and wine bars with wine flights/tastings tied to a film theme. Participants can be found in Carpinteria, Montecito, Summerland, Santa Barbara, and Goleta. These deals are too good to pass up, so make a date of it with your fellow film enthusiast friends or family!

<![CDATA[California Restaurant Month comes to Santa Barbara Wine Country]]>Wed, 08 Jan 2014 19:59:31 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2014/01/california-restaurant-month-comes-to-santa-barbara-wine-country.htmlPicture
The start of 2014 brings California’s statewide celebration of all things delicious – California Restaurant Month. Throughout the month of January various communities throughout the state are hosting Restaurant Weeks, when cafés, bistros, bars, and restaurants open their doors for one week to share their culinary creations at a discounted price. No longer do you have an excuse not to visit the new restaurant that just opened, or the local favorite down the street.   Here in Santa Barbara Wine Country, treat yourself to prix fixe menus at some of the top restaurants in Santa Barbara County, and explore what local ingredients can become in the hands of talented chefs.   Best of all, since you are in Wine Country,  you will have the chance to enjoy the bounty of the region's wines.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week
Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang join together from January 19th – 25th for the Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week sponsored by Visit Santa Ynez Valley Start living the life* by enjoying the varied cuisines found in the Valley and be amazed by the savings you’ll receive by dining out. To ring in the New Year every participating restaurant and brewery will offer a prix fixe, 3-course menu for only $20.14. That’s 19 different places offering a starter, entrée, and dessert for just over $20! Keep in mind this does not include tax, gratuity, or beverages – some menus may include beer or wine so check them out if you’re interested.
*Living the life? That’s the Visit Santa Ynez Valley motto…

Santa Maria Restaurant Week
Savor Santa Maria delicacies at the five restaurants participating in Santa Maria Restaurant Week January 19th – 25th sponsored by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.  Get your fix of Santa Maria style barbeque and explore other dishes at The Historic Santa Maria Inn, Vintner’s Bar and Grill, Rooney’s Irish Pub, Far Western Tavern, and Pasión Comida Mexicana. Each of these restaurants will be offering a prix fixe, 3-course menu for only $20.14. Again, remember this doesn’t cover tax, gratuity, or beverages.

Santa Barbara’s Restaurant Week
Film Feast, sponsored by Visit Santa Barbara, is January 30th – February 9th, coinciding with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. (To view the Film Festival schedule, purchase tickets/passes, or learn more click here.) Over 30 restaurants, tasting rooms, and bars have created special offerings and prix fixe menus during Film Feast’s 11 day celebration. Want to make a night of it? A week of it? Take advantage of the special lodging packages found here so you can fit in dinner, the movies, and more! The cities participating in Film Feast include Carpinteria, Montecito, Summerland, Santa Barbara, and Goleta so there’s sure to be a steal near you.

Take advantage of California Restaurant Month and you’ll support local businesses, try new dishes, and discover new favorite spots. You’ll want to make reservations as most places fill up quickly. 

With this many restaurants offering special deals, the hardest decision in dining out will be choosing where to go first!

<![CDATA[Bubbly.  A perfect holiday wine.]]>Wed, 18 Dec 2013 01:12:25 GMThttp://www.sbcountywines.com/1/post/2013/12/the-holiday-wine.html
Wondering what wine to pair with your holiday celebrations? Well your choice is simple – bubbly.

There’s nothing quite as festive as popping a bottle of sparkling wine - the effervescent, crisp wine symbolizes luxury and celebration. Sparkling wine is adored by all sorts of wine drinkers, so it’s a safe bet to bring to a party, a get-together, or to open for a special evening. That being said, sparkling wine is the perfect everyday wine, no need to reserve it for only special occasions! Tessa Marie, the winemaker at Tessa Marie Wines says, “Sparkling is crisp and refreshing but full bodied. Perfect for any occasion or for no reason at all!” Keep a bottle chilling in your fridge (any type of sparkling wine should be served between 43-50° F) so you have it ready for those last minute invitations or dinners.

"Sparkling wines, especially sparkling rosés, are the ultimate food pairing wines.  Pretty much everything on a cheese plate will be delicious with a bubbly, and for really sublime pairings, go for something fried or salty.  One of my favorite pairings in the world is fried chicken and a dry sparkling wine." says Laura Booras Mohseni, General Manager Riverbench Vineyard and Winery.

The acidity of sparkling wines pairs fabulously with anything salty. If you’re looking for a unique new recipe to share at a holiday party, try a sparkling wine oyster shooter. Place an oyster in a flute, add enough sparkling wine to just cover the oyster, and enjoy! The salinity of the oyster is perfectly balanced with the crisp, fizzy liquid, and is a fun way to enjoy another holiday staple.

Cracking the Code
The labels on sparkling wines can be hard to understand. Here’s a few tips to make your selection easier.
Sparkling wines come in a wide range of dry – sweet.
  • Brut Zero: bone dry
  • Brut: dry
  • Extra Dry: off-dry
  • Sec: semi-sweet
  • Demi Sec: sweet
  • Doux: very sweet
What does it all mean?
  • Méthode Traditionnelle: what you’ll see most sparkling wines made in the U.S. classified as; signifies the wine was made through the classic method
  • Cremant: any non-Champagne sparkling wine produced by Méthode Traditionnelle
  • Champagne: sparkling wine produced only in Champagne, France
  • Cava: sparkling wine produced in Spain
  • Prosecco: sparkling wine produced in North East Italy; has a lower percentage of alcohol and is meant to be drunk young
  • Moscato d’Asti: sparkling wine produced in North West Italy; has a lower percentage of alcohol and is meant to be drunk young
  • Spumante: generic term for fully sparkling Italian wine
  • Frizzante: semi-sparkling Italian wine
There are many winemakers in Santa Barbara who produce sparkling wines. Take advantage of the yummy bubbly being made locally! Click on a winery below to see more details.

Brewer - Clifton
Casa Dumetz

Cottonwood Canyon
Fiddlehead Cellars
Flying Goat Cellars

Fontes & Phillips
Lucas & Lewellen
Municipal Winemakers
Oreana Winery

Sea Smoke
Tantara Winery
Tessa Marie Wines