By: Wandering Wino
Ballard Canyon is the newest recognized wine region inside of Santa Barbara County.
What does this mean?
A couple of things, starting with wine labels likely will show off the new AVA name, Ballard Canyon. In my view, on some level there is a science to this, and on the other hand, it becomes marketing.
As Ballard Canyon is noted for producing stellar Rhones (like Viognier,Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, among others), it can become a platform for the wine market. Just like the Oakville AVA of the Napa Valley has showcased itself as being a premiere Cabernet region, Ballard Canyon will have the same opportunity. I had a chance to discuss the new AVA with Keith Saarloos of Saarloos and Sons. Keith says, "It's like a dot on the map or a zip code. Every sommelier has to know Ballard Canyon now." With the new AVA recognized officially, I asked Keith how he will label his wines that have been labeled Santa Ynez Valley (other wineries have opted for Santa Barbara County). He said, "Ballard Canyon AVA."
Another destination and purpose for the new AVA is being different in aspects such as climate, soil, rain, wind, and temperature variance. Each grape requires different conditions of climate, weather, leafing, trellising, and farming, to shine in the best possible light.
In a previous article I wrote about 'How To Buy Wine Like A Champion', I suggested buying very specific wines from regions that are best suited for their respective grapes. It is kind of supporting the similar concept of ordering a steak at a steak house, and fish at a fish house. So do not drink Chardonnay from Mexico or buy Cabernet from Alaska. It would, however, be wise to consider Rhones from Ballard Canyon.
A part of the marketing idea is that this specific region of Ballard Canyon that sits inside of the larger Santa Ynez Valley, has specific conditions to produce very high quality Rhones, some Bordeaux varietals, and a little Sangiovese. As consumers get out, taste the wines, see the labeling, they will begin to identify high quality wines from this region.
Many Santa Barbara wine industry professionals and residents have been clear in their interest to stay on the smaller side in Santa Barbara County, with a smaller community,and simply produce stellar wines. So far, Santa Barbara has done an excellent job of maintaining more of a community vibe, less build-up, and less big brand business which is often seen in other wine regions. That'old-school' vibe is a big piece of the romance to Santa Barbara wine country in my view.
No hotels, restaurants, water parks, bungy jumps or bouncy castles can be found inside of Ballard Canyon, just beautiful vineyards, country roads, ranches, and a few wineries. I have often shared with many others that Ballard Canyon is one of the most beautiful drives in wine country.
From my years of consuming great wines from Ballard Canyon, the high quality resonates an excitement for me each time I simply look at a bottle. So if it is tasting the wine, or simply being there in Ballard Canyon, it is no doubt an exciting place. Get out and explore for yourself if you haven't already!
Ballard Canyon Details:
Vineyards and Some Varietals:
Los Angelean's perspective of Santa Barbara wine country is changing. The "wine-next-door" is becoming increasingly more attractive to Southern Californian's as they realize how many world-class wineries there are in Santa Barbara County, producing such an array of wine varietals and styles, only a few hours north of them.
Read the full LA Times article here.
By: Wandering Wino
Throughout California, there are many wine appellations or American Viticulture Areas (AVA's). According to the TTB of their description of AVA's -
"These designations allow vintners and consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in an area to its geographic origin. The establishment of viticultural areas allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers to identify wines they may purchase."
Each AVA is broken down by distinctions like climate and soil that produce both growing and wine distinction. The French word terroir will not be used because most of us do not speak French and, well, mainly for fear of civil unrest among the hard-core. Many of the regions are known to produce and specialize in various wines. The Central Coast includes over 30 different AVA's. Having some familiarity with these regions, there are key distinctions that often can be blanketed with the term "Central Coast."
Central Coast is essentially half of the coast of California, near 300 miles in length and at its widest is near 50 miles inland. Beginning at the Southern bay area near San Francisco, to as far south as Santa Barbara, and as far East as the Paso Robles AVA. With such a large span and distinctions among them, it is almost like a person traveling abroad, telling someone in another country that they are American. It's a fantastic giant "soup pot." As an American, it is easy to see the distinctions between places like Key West FL, Mississippi, Montana, Michigan, New York, and so on.
The Central Coast can be referred to as the North Central Coast and the South Central Coast. Amongst the wine appellations of the Northern Central Coast, some of them include Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Chalone, Monterey County, Livermore, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Santa Lucia Highlands, San Lucas and many others.
While wine production history for the northern region goes back to the 1830's, prohibition shut down the wine community. In 1957 Mirassou and Paul Masson purchased 1,300 acres in Salinas Valley. Bill Jekel brought high quality wine attention to the area. It wasn't long before fame was brought by pioneers like Dick Graff producing great Pinot Noir at Chalone in the mid-1970's. Other famed producers of the area include Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard, the Wagner family of Caymus and their Conundrum brand, JC Cellars from Jeff Cohn, the well known Ridge and Rosenblum.
The many varietals produced from the Northern Central Coast include Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Mourvedre, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Zinfandel, and many more. Generally, this region is warm with a few cooler spots like the Santa Cruz Mountains and portions of the Salinas Valley.
The southern region of the Central Coast has quickly become known as one of the best areas in the world outside of Burgundy for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Vines were originally planted in Paso Robles in the late 18th century and Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County pre-prohibition held its fair share of vineyards. Post-prohibition didn't see its first Santa Barbara County winery return until 1962. Right around that same time, the Nielson vineyard in Santa Maria Valley became the first commercial vineyard. Most of the fruit from the Nielson vineyard was sold to Napa Valley in the early days.
Santa Maria Valley resides slightly south of Edna Valley past Arroyo Grande, in the Northern region of Santa Barbara County. Santa Maria Valley is one of the oldest AVA's in the US and home to some of the most famous vineyards, the Miller family's Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards comprising nearly 2,000 acres. Over the years, major wine press have indicated these vineyards to be amongst the top ten in the world. Some of the most notable wines of California source their fruit from these vineyards including Au Bon Climat, Qupe, Foxen, Kenneth Volk, up and comers La Fenentre and Presqu'ile.
While grapes have been growing around Paso Robles since 1797, Paso Robles Rhone Ranger and "Godfather," Gary Eberle helped bring quality by starting Estrella winery (later Meridian) in 1973 and put Syrah on the US map, and in our glass. Other Paso pioneers include "Mr. Chardonnay" Chuck Ortman, Castoro's winemaker Tom Meyers, and Vic Roberts of Victor Hugo Winery. The coastal influence is blocked by the mountains allowing for many hot days and cool nights. Paso's highest acreage plantings are of Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet. However, Paso Robles may be best known for Zinfandel and Rhone varietals like Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. Should one ask near 40 year Paso veteran Gary Eberle, he believes Cabernet Sauvignon is his best producing grape.
Just south of Paso and north of Santa Maria Valley sits San Louis Obispo, known as "SLO" to locals, and more specifically the Edna Valley AVA, home to less than 20 wineries. Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay shine in this area with fantastic producers like Chamisal Vineyards, Kynsi, Baileyana, and Talley, among many others. This region is home to a well known agriculture college producing enology and viticulture professionals, Cal-Polytecnic-University.
The Central Coasts' terrain, climate patterns, and wine produced has a large scale range. So the next time a label is seen showing "Central Coast," this fantastic giant "soup pot" might be a little more understood. Undoubtedly there is very high quality in both the north and the south.
CA CENTRAL COAST AVAs (31 including Santa Barbara County's newest AVA, Ballard Canyon)
• Arroyo Grande Valley AVA
• Arroyo Seco AVA
• Ballard Canyon
• Ben Lomond Mountain AVA
• Carmel Valley AVA
• Central Coast AVA
• Chalone AVA
• Cienega Valley AVA
• Edna Valley AVA
• Hames Valley AVA
• Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA
• Lime Kiln Valley AVA
• Livermore Valley AVA
• Monterey AVA
• Mt. Harlan AVA
• Pacheco Pass AVA
• Paicines AVA
• Paso Robles AVA
• San Antonio Valley AVA
• San Benito AVA
• San Bernabe AVA
• San Francisco Bay AVA
• San Lucas AVA
• San Ysidro District AVA
• Santa Clara Valley AVA
• Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
• Santa Lucia Highlands AVA
• Santa Maria Valley AVA
• Sta. Rita Hills AVA
• Santa Ynez Valley AVA
• York Mountain AVA
Les Marchands Announces participating wineries for 2nd annual Santa barbara county wine futures tasting
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
Shawn - 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 Marriott) is 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.
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?
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.
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:
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).
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!