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!
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!
Interesting stories from Santa Barbara Wine County.