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Real Men Cook, SYV's beloved benefit for Arts Outreach, returns Oct. 21

 

 Arts Outreach photo/Some of the chefs from a previous year's event. Longtime participant Pete Fohl, second from left in front row, will be honored at this year's event.

Arts Outreach photo/Some of the chefs from a previous year's event. Longtime participant Pete Fohl, second from left in front row, will be honored at this year's event.

 

Real Men Cook, the annual dinner showcasing culinary talents by more than 50 amateur male chefs, returns to Buellton’s Flag is Up Farms Saturday, Oct. 21, for its celebration of food, wine and fun.

The October event is a fundraiser for Arts Outreach of the Santa Ynez Valley, the nonprofit community arts organization founded in 1980 as an educational program that brings together artists and students for teaching and performances.

Real Men Cook unites chefs, local winemakers and brewers, live music and an auction in what has become the valley’s party of the year.

The participating chefs will demonstrate their culinary skills to the crowd in the form of small bites. Many chefs return year after year, delighting the crowd with dishes such as Southern Fried alligator, BBQ Chicken Strips, Black Bean and Chorizo Stuffed Chiles and Killer Brownies.

Among the various food categories are hot and cold appetizers, entrees, salads, breads and desserts.

Arts Outreach, according to its executive director Sandie Mullin, focuses on “bringing art to life and life to art.” Program activities include elementary school classroom workships and ongoing art curriculum led by artists in residence, summertime arts and drama programs; after school art; semi-monthly Elder Arts entertainment; and the annual Applause Young Artists program.

This year’s program will be dedicated to Pete Fohl, a longtime Real Men Cook participant and resident of Solvang. Fohl passed away after a short illness in July.

Arts Outreach serves more than 3,000 students, as well as Santa Barbara County residents of all ages.

This year’s event will take place from 6 to 10 p.m.

For more information, call (805) 688-9533, email info@artsoutreach.com, or visit http://artsoutreach.com/

 

 

Solvang's Wandering Dog Wine Bar celebrating 10-year anniversary

Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar, one of the region’s first to focus on wines from the Central Coast and around the world, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this month with various promotions and events. Charles "CT" Williams and his wife, Jody, co-own Wandering Dog with his parents, Susan and Jack Williams. CT and his parents, residents of the Santa Ynez Valley since 1988, are longtime champions of the regions’ two main businesses — wine and tourism.

They established the bar to support and showcase winemakers with limited production and labels who could not afford their own tasting room. The "Dog's" location was chosen to fill a void in what then was the quiet "west end" of Solvang, they  said.

Wandering Dog Wine Bar has made a name for itself by carrying under-the-radar labels, and by specializing in boutique wines. As Santa Barbara Wine Country expanded and evolved, so has Wandering Dog’s business: Today the bar offers international wine imports, domestic wines from areas other than Santa Barbara, craft beers from all over the world, as well as the Williams’ private label wine program – one that started with only four labels, and now boasts a line-up of 12-14 wines at any given time.

Starting this month and continuing through 2017, Wandering Dog will offer $10 by-the-glass wine specials, each month featuring a different wine. The first month’s special will be Wandering Dog’s proprietary 2014 "Leila" Pinot Noir, the first wine that Wandering Dog ever produced under its private label program.

 Some of the wines produced by the owners of Wandering Dog Wine Bar in Solvang.

Some of the wines produced by the owners of Wandering Dog Wine Bar in Solvang.

The first vintage of the "Leila" Pinot Noir was 2005, crafted for Wandering Dog by winemaker Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars, who remains the winemaker for the label.

This Saturday, April 8, Wandering Dog will host its official anniversary party at Solvang’s Hans Christian Andersen Park (633 Chalk Hill Road). The family-friendly barbecue will include children’s games and a kids' menu, as well as food, wine and beer for the "bigger kids." Reservations are required, and tickets tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite, at www.eventbrite.com/e/wandering-dog-wine-bar-10-year-anniversary-party-tickets-32546874578The cost is $10 per person and $5 for kids ages 2 to 10.

The event begins at 1 p.m. and will last until 4 p.m.

Starting in 2016, bar patrons were able to enjoy o-owners Jody and CT Williams’s newest venture, "Broken Clock Vinegar Works," a line of drinking vinegars, available at the bar as a tasting or as individual-purchase shrub “cocktails.”

The story I wrote for Noozhawk.com about Broken Clock is available here

Daily offerings also include a dozen wine flights ranging from local favorites to sparkling and sweet wines, to reserve flights featuring wines that retail for more than $100 per bottle. Beer fans may partake in Wandering Dog’s offering of craft brew bottles. The bar also features gourmet cheese and charcuterie platters available in a variety of sizes, along with local olives and fine chocolates.

Knowing how the bar’s knowledgeable staff encourages guests to try new wines, I learned years ago to tell CT only to "surprise me" when he took my order. Through his expertise, I sampled sauvignon blanc from Oregon, Italian Barolo and many a terrific syrah.

The longtime "Blind Tasting" from 4 to 7 p.m. every Thursday challenges patrons to match up regions, varietals, alcohol percentages, price points and vintages of four featured red wines.

Another regular feature is the bar's Wine-by-the-Glass loyalty card program (buy 10 glasses; get one free) and often, wine classes. Wandering Dog also arranges wine travel tours open to its dedicated wine club members, as well as to the general public.

New to Wandering Dog is the Monday "Game Night" from 4 to 7 p.m., during which guests may relax with $5 specials on a select white wine, select red wine, select "shrubtail"  and select beer, while they entertain themselves with games like Yahtzee, Backgammon, Chinese Checkers, Dominos and more.

CT Williams recalled that, in 2007, when the Williams’ family opened Wandering Dog, "Solvang had numerous empty storefronts, and the food and wine scene was not nearly as thriving as it is today. But we felt that our wine bar model could be just what was missing, and we bravely opened in the hopes that we might spur more business in our corner of the (Santa Ynez) Valley."

His wife, Jody, director of events and marketing, continued: "We love this location. The majority of our business is tourists, and this end of town has a heavy concentration of hotels. Guests looking for something to do in the evenings need only walk a few steps to Wandering Dog. Even from our early days, we’ve been open later than a good portion of Solvang businesses, which has also helped to build our local following and our fan base from within the wine industry."

Wandering Dog Wine Bar is located at 1539-C Mission Drive (next to Paula’s Pancake House).

Its hours are from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 1 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Phone: (805) 686-9126. Web: https://www.wanderingdogwinebar.com

Women winemakers, chefs to celebrate International Women’s Day with dinner

Tenley Fohl Photography/ Karen Steinwachs, general manager and winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyards and winemaker/owner of Seagrape Wine Co., is organizing the March 8 event at K'Syrah Catering in Solvang. On Wednesday, March 8, more than a dozen of Santa Barbara County’s women winemakers will gather around tables in solidarity and camaraderie to celebrate International Women’s Day with wine, cuisine and good company.

The evening runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at K’Syrah Catering & Events’ new venue, 478 4th Place in downtown Solvang.

Tickets, at $75 each, are all-inclusive and available via https://womenwinemakersdinner.eventbrite.com

Only 75 tickets will be sold, which guarantees attendees and intimate evening with winemakers and chefs.

The evening will benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County.

The dozen-plus female winemakers will be joined by some of the Santa Ynez Valley’s most inventive female chefs, who are creating a five-to-seven course meal to pair with their colleagues’ wines.

Among the wineries participating as of today are Buttonwood, Cambria, Casa Dumetz, Cebada, Dreamcote, Fiddlehead, Harrison-Clark, Kitá, La Montagne, Lepiane, Lumen, Nagy, Rideau, Rusack, Sanford, Story of Soil and William James Cellars. Additional wineries are expected to join up in coming weeks.

Creating the menu will be Chef Pink of Bacon & Brine, Chef Brooke of the Union Hotel, Cheese monger Janelle McAtamney and Baker Amy Dixon of The Baker’s Table.

While the national percentage of female winemakers is about 10 percent, Santa Barbara has a much higher rate of women winemakers — nearly double the national average.

Despite its reputation as a glamorous and romantic industry, winemaking is hard, dirty work.

A typical day during harvest requires rising before the sun, hauling wine hoses and wrangling barrels in the cellar, all the while utilizing sensory skills to craft balanced and elegant wines.

At day’s end, winemakers swap boots and jeans for business attire and hit the road to sell their wares across the nation Many women winemakers accomplish all of this while raising families and staying active within their communities.

“International Women’s Day has traditionally focused on labor and work conditions,” said participating winemaker Karen Steinwachs, general manager/winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, and the owner/winemaker of Seagrape Wine Company.

She anticipates that the March 8 dinner will be “a kinder and gentler protest” against the current administration.

The theme for the 2017 International Women’s Day is “Be Bold for Change,” according to the website.

“During these turbulent political times, we believe people can come together if we simply sit down at a table with wine and a meal,” said Kathy Joseph, owner and winemaker at Fiddlehead Cellars. “

The beneficiary, the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, a giving circle whereby individuals combine money and/or time so that they can have a bigger impact on the causes most important to them – more so than they would by donating individually.

Since its inception in 2007, the organization has given an average $104,000 back to the community every year, according to its website.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1911.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

 

Several of Santa Barbara County's pioneering winemakers to participate in panel at Museum of Natural History

Six of Santa Barbara County’s pioneering winemakers will be panelists this Sunday afternoon during the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s final wine event of 2016. “In the Beginning: The Early Years in the Santa Barbara Wine Country,” will feature winemakers Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat); Fred Brander (Brander Vineyards); Ken Brown (Ken Brown Wines); Bob Lindquist (Qupe); Lane Tanner (Lumen Wines) and Rick Longoria (Longoria Wines)

The moderator will be Antonio Gardella, a longtime Santa Barbara resident who has devoted much of his life to selling wine and educating the public about the joys of the vine.

Following the hour-long Q&A session will be socializing and tastings from 10 local wineries, as well as food from six vendors. Guests will have the opportunity to mingle with participating winemakers.

Clendenen: Robert Parker named Clendenen to his short list of “Best Wineries in the World” in 1989 and 1990, and in 1991, the latter was selected by Oz Clark as one of 50 creators of the world's “Modern Classic Wines." In the years since, multiple other awards have followed, and Clendenen continues to produce ABC, as well as several smaller labels, from the production facility he shares with Lindquist on Bien Nacido Vineyards in Santa Maria. Clendenen’s tasting room is in Santa Barbara.

Brander: While he is well documented as producing the best sauvignon blanc in California, Brander puts as much effort into small lots of several red Bordeaux grape varietals, among them cabernet sauvignon and merlot. He recently celebrated the 40th harvest at his estate vineyard/winery/tasting room in the new Los Olivos District — Santa Barbara County’s newest American Viticultural Area — and yes, he was a driving force behind getting recognition for that appellation.

Brown: This vintner was among the first to recognize Santa Barbara County’s potential as a powerhouse for pinot noir and chardonnay, especially in the cooler Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills’ AVAs. That was in the mid- to late-1970s. Brown and Lindquist were also the first to plant and produce, respectively, the syrah grape, in this county (at Zaca Mesa). Brown’s tasting room is in Buellton.

Lindquist: This winemaker has been producing award-winning Rhone grape varietal wines on the Central Coast since the early 1980s, among them grenache, viognier, roussanne, marsanne and, of course, syrah. Lindquist and Brown earned reputations for being the earliest winemakers to believe that syrah would become one of this county’s most widely planted varietals. A longtime Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan, Lindquist bottled a chardonnay and a syrah for the team and the public, releasing them to accolades and national press early this year.

Tanner: Along with Clendenen, Brown and many others, Tanner believes that the Santa Maria Valley is one of the hottest cool-climate spots for pinot noir and chardonnay wines — those that make the world sit up and pay attention. Tanner’s first vintage was in 1981, as an enologist for Firestone. Later winemaking gigs included Zaca Mesa and the Hitching Post, and in 1989, she founded her own Lane Tanner Wines label. Tanner’s latest project is Lumen Wines, a label she co-owns with Will Henry, owner of Pico in Los Alamos with his wife, Kali Kopley.

Longoria: “From the very beginning of my career,” Longoria says, “I felt that the Santa Barbara wine region had the potential to produce world-class wines, and it’s been very gratifying to see that belief realized over the more than 30 years I’ve been here. It’s also been very rewarding to have had the good fortune over the years to have some of my wines contribute to the acclaim of our wine region.” Longoria’s winery and tasting room are located in Lompoc.

Details on Sunday: Event takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Fleischmann Auditorium at the Mission Creek campus of the museum, located at 2559 Puesta del Sol in Santa Barbara.

Tickets, limited to 100, are $75 for museum members and $100 for non-members, and remain available at www.sbnature.org/tickets

For more information, contact Meridith Moore, (805) 682-4711, Ext. 112, or mmoore@sbnature2.org

About the museum: Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History reconnects more than 100,000 people each year to nature both indoors and out. The Museum has 10 indoor exhibit halls that focus on regional natural history, including astronomy, birds, insects, geology, mammals, marine life, paleontology, plant life and the Chumash Indians.

The museum is also home to the only full-dome planetarium on the Central Coast, a research library, and the John & Peggy Maximus Art Gallery.

The Museum’s outdoor exhibit experiences include a nature trail, the Chumash Sukinanik’oy Garden, The Museum Backyard & Nature Club House, the Butterfly Pavilion — and a real 74-foot Blue Whale skeleton, which is visible from the road and turns quite a few heads.

The Museum’s outdoor nature experience at its Sea Center located on the historic Stearns Wharf. This facility provides the nearly 100,000 people who visit it annually a window to ocean life in the Santa Barbara Channel via interactive exhibits and close-up, hands-on encounters with sea creatures.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

Venerable Central Coast Wine Classic grows into Santa Barbara County for 31st year

  WineClassicLogo-2016-date-hiOne of the Central Coast’s most enduring wine events and a major fundraiser for several nonprofits in two counties will this year expand into Santa Barbara County when it opens Wednesday, Aug. 10.

The Central Coast Wine Classic, now in its 31st year, comprises 18 events over the course of five days. Among those events are barrel tastings, live and silent auctions, symposiums, dinners, lunches and special tours and wine tastings.

One of most popular events is the Thursday dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. That event is $1,250 per person.

The Wine Classic opens Aug. 10 with a barrel tasting of an array of California wineries from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Greengate Ranch & Vineyard in the Edna Valley, and culminates with a sold-out VIP Champagne Louis Roederer & Black Caviar Brunch in Santa Barbara at Stella Mare’s.

The dinner at San Simeon' Hearst Castle is one of the most popular CCWC events

As of last week, at least seven of the 19 events had already sold out, including the final brunch, all of the Friday evening dinners and the Edna Valley tour, also on Friday, said a CCWC organizer.

Archie McLaren is the founder of chairman of CCWC, and relocated almost two years ago to downtown Santa Barbara after residing in San Luis Obispo County for decades.

His employees say he holds the history of the CCWC in his head.

“I’m trying to be an extension of Archie’s brain” when it comes to organizing the multiday event, said Beverly Aho, one of McLaren’s employees since 2006 and a resident of Avila Beach.

Her colleague Robin Bort, who resides in Reno, calls McLaren “such a pleasure to work with. He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and is very kind and generous.”

Aho and Bord both volunteered for CCWC (Bort for 20 years and Aho for 10) before McLaren hired them to assist him with event organization and production. While they’ve been colleagues for more than a decade and work closely via e-mail and phone, the two women have “never met” in person, Aho chuckled.

Bort, her husband and a group of others teamed to found the annual Live Oak Festival that takes place in June at Live Oak Camp along the Santa Ynez River, she said. The Live Oak Festival continues to benefit KCBX to this day.

Bort is a graphic designer who just completed her 31st version of the annual catalog that showcases the live auction items available during the event.

There are 52 lots in the current catalog, viewable here at http://www.centralcoastwineclassic.org/live-auction.php

The lots are “a mix of lifestyle items and wine and are very unique,” Bort told me.

The Wine Classic caters to guests “from all over the world” who help fund Central Coast nonprofits with their auction purchases, Aho said.

She and McLaren personally speak to every potential guest interested in event attendance, she said, adding that organizers strive to offer “personalized assistance” to help guests decide which event is best suited to their tastes.

The centralcoastwineclassic.org website clearly states: “We do not offer online registration. You are more than a computerized payment to us. You are a valued guest!”

Guests will be transported to, from and between events via a fleet of buses, Aho said. (“Our bus schedule is crazy!”)

To reach Aho for tickets or additional information, call her at (805) 235-8130, or inquire via e-mail at sylphie333@yahoo.com.

While in its early days the CCWC was a fundraiser solely for KCBX-Central Coast Public Radio, more recently it has boosted the coffers of multiple nonprofit organizations in both counties.

Since 2004 when the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation was created, CCWC has raised a whopping $2.5 million for 125 organizations that focus on studio arts, performing arts and healing arts, according to a news release.

Among the beneficiaries for 2016 are the Hearst Preservation and the Friends of Hearst Castle Foundation, the Léni Fé Bland Performing Arts Fund and the Boys & Girls Club of Northern San Luis Obispo.

Among the highlights of the 2014 live auction lots: 60 bottles of fine French red Burgundy that sold for $35,000; a 2014 harvest dinner for 24 people that was presented by Au Bon Climat and the Buellton Hitching Post restaurant, $24,000; a wine and culinary tour of French wine country for two people, $20,000; a dinner with McLaren and baseball legend Tim McCarver and a dozen bottles of rare wine, all the 1984 vintage, for $20,000; and a gourmet food & wine cruise for two from Singapore to Hong Kong for $15,000, according to publicist Maureen McFadden, handling media for McLaren for the fist time this year.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

 

Bacon & Barrels' opening night dinner showcased local fare, bacon, Biddle Ranch

More, please? Best.appetizer.ever, this was candied bacon "cracker" with feta, herbs and grapefruit Bacon. Love it … or not. Actually, I am not acquainted with anyone who doesn’t eat good bacon like the end of the world is near.

I even have a friend who married a vegetarian and eliminated all meat from her diet. But here and there, she still indulges in bacon, because it’s the one thing she cannot live without.

To be clear, I don’t consume much bacon at home, but it’s a staple when I dine out.

And so I dined well at the VIP (“Very Important Pig”) dinner last Friday that kicked off the Bacon & Barrels celebration, held this year for the first time in San Luis Obispo County.

That evening took place at Biddle Ranch Vineyard, located on the road of the same name, just off Highway 227/Edna Valley Road.

Ryan Deovlet (of Deovlet Wines, and also of Refugio Ranch Wines) has been the winemaker at Biddle Ranch since the 2014 vintage. Chef Maegen Loring crafted the meal. She’s the owner of Maegen Loring Catering and a longtime favorite on the Central Coast for her knack pairing area wines with fresh, local fare.

The Biddle Ranch winery’s tasting room is surrounded by ample outdoor space that Bacon & Barrels’ staff put to good use that evening. The walled-in side yard, deck and courtyard protected us from the afternoon breezes as we commenced with appetizers and wines.

B&B Menu 7.15.16

First up was the Biddle Ranch 2015 Rosé, a delicate but flavorful blend of 60 percent sangiovese and 40 percent syrah. Soon making the rounds were paper cones full of popcorn dusted with chicharrones dust, a finger-licking delight when paired with the rosé.

Next in line came my favorite for the evening: Candied bacon “cracker” with whipped feta cheese, grapefruit and herbs. By this time, some of us had estate chardonnay in our glasses, which also married with this delightful bite of rich herbs plus savory bacon. Pure deliciousness.

The first course, steamed clams with butterbeans, pancetta, orange aioli and oregano showcased the freshest clams soaked with essence of orange and bacon sauce. The accompanying wine was the Biddle Ranch 2014 pinot grigio.

Then came second: Flatbread topped with chevre, prosciutto-wrapped beets and pickled greens, and paired with pinot noir.

The evening’s entrée was served with a 2014 syrah and featured bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with basil mashers and plum-blackberry salad. About those mashers? Yes, they were green, and I had three helpings …

… which meant I had zero room left for dessert: Bourbon-bacon pecan pie with orange caramel.

Other happy diners outside in the evening sun at Biddle Ranch

I appreciated Loring’s effort to keep the dinner “family style,” which for me translates to smaller servings all around. When meals are plated, one often ends up with too much food, which means we often overeat, and/or food gets wasted. Kudos all around to Loring and Holly Holliday, owner of Create Promotions, organizer of Bacon & Barrels.

 

 

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Popular Bacon & Barrels makes San Luis Obispo debut this weekend, July 15-17

Bottle Branding photos/Would you like bacon with your drink? Bacon & Barrels celebrates four years of bacon-inspired food and barrel-aged libations with its San Luis Obispo County debut this weekend, July 15 to 17.

Holly Holliday, founding queen of Bacon & Barrels and owner of San Luis Obispo’s Create Promotions, parent organizer of this event and BubblyFest, relocated the popular event north from its early locations at Saarloos & Sons’ field in Los Olivos in 2013 and 2014, and last year, at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard outside of Solvang.

In 2014, just one year after launching Bacon & Barrels in Los Olivos, Holliday added a sister event every May since, in San Diego.

Bottle Branding photos/ Like creative food made with bacon? Bacon & Barrels is your new heaven

While general admission tickets remain available for this Saturday’s event at Madonna Inn Meadows, the coveted VIP (all-weekend access) tickets just sold out.

In the case of Bacon & Barrels, VIP stands for “Very Important Pig,” and guests who partake in that status take it Very Seriously.

VIP attendees will enjoy all three sections of Bacon & Barrels: Friday evening’s kick-off dinner at Biddle Ranch Vineyard House; early admission (noon) to Saturday afternoon’s festival at Madonna Inn Meadows with exclusive access to the lounge; and finally, the Buffet & Bloody’s Sunday Brunch at Sidecar, 1127 Broad St., also in San Luis Obispo.

The tickets that are still available (get yours today, as they will not last) include early-admission (noon to 5 p.m.) for the festival Saturday ($80); general admission (1 to 5 p.m.) ($60); and both categories of the designated non-drinker tickets ($30), for early and regular entry to the Saturday event.

All Saturday tickets include parking, a glass, live music, live chef and mixology demonstrations, and all food samples — while supplies last. You won’t leave hungry.

Those who pay to sample the libations get all of the above — plus everything alcoholic.

About those live demonstrations: Chefs from the hottest restaurants will prepare and proffer small plates starring the most creative forms of (what else) — bacon and pork belly. To pair with the nibbles will be drinks from brewers, winemakers and mixologists, who will offer bacon-inspired and bacon-based libations. You really cannot go wrong here, folks.

The Spazmatics will provide live music Saturday.

For more details on the entire weekend, visit http://www.baconandbarrels.com/schedule-slo/

Holliday notes that Bacon & Barrels is proud to support the Create Community Foundation, which provides grants and assistance to organization that serve at-risk youth. In addition, the festival makes it an annual goat to divert 95 percent of its trash from landfills via cutlery, napkins and cups that are biodegradable and compostible.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

Garagiste Festival 'Southern Exposure' returns to Solvang Feb. 13 & 14

  The Garagiste Festival, founded in Paso Robles in 2011 to introduce small-production, cutting edge winemakers to the public, returns to Solvang’s Veterans’ Memorial Hall Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13 and 14, with two days of grand tastings, as well as signature tasting seminars on mourvedre and — to honor Valentine's Day on Sunday — sparkling wines from the Central Coast.

“We are proud to continue our mission of bringing the best new garagiste winemakers to our audience and, just as importantly, bringing the story behind the wines straight from the winemakers themselves,” said Doug Minnick, Garagiste Festival co-founder.

The founders focus their efforts on winemakers who produce fewer than 1,500 cases of wine per year.

Featured will be ‘garagiste’ winemakers from the Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles, Napa and other regions. Proceeds benefit the Garagiste Festival Scholarship Fund at Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department.

Garagiste (or “garage-east”) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot winemakers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules.”

Today the descriptor is a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.

New this year is a drawing for two VIP tickets for Sunday, ($95) and a room on Valentine’s Day night at the Landsby, Solvang’s new luxury hotel. To participate, visit http://on.fb.me/1ZHwbpa

Tickets are available at http://garagistefestival.com

Early-access tickets for either day are $75 and provide entry at 1 p.m. General admission tickets to either day’s Grand Tastings are $55 each; the tastings run from 2 to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

For general information, visit http://www.garagistefestival.com

The Saturday (mourvedre) and Sunday (bubbles) tasting seminars will be moderated by Stewart McLennan, Garagiste Festival co-founder and radio host.

Saturday’s seminar, led by winemaker Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines, will explore a variety of interpretations of an underdog grape beloved by many winemakers on the Central Coast. Other participants will be Bob Tillman of Alta Colina Wines, and Eric Moshseni of Zaca Mesa Vineyards. The three will explore the different styles of the Rhone grape varietal, and discuss why it’s one of the world’s most widely planted.

Sunday’s seminar, sponsored by BubblyFest, will focus on sparkling wines, aka ‘bubbles,’ and will feature three winemakers: Halcyon Wines’ Tyler Elwell; Dan Kessler of Kessler-Haak Vineyards; and Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars.

Each seminar will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets to either seminar are only available as part of the VIP All-day Ticket, which includes a box lunch and early access (1 p.m.) to the grand tasting. VIP tickets are limited.

Winemakers already scheduled to pour include: Archium Cellars, Ascension Cellars, Baehner Fournier Vineyards, Bevela Wines, Brophy Clark Cellars, Carucci Wines, The Central Coast Group Project, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Clos des Amis, Coda Wines, Cordon Wines, Dascomb Cellars, El Lugar Wines, Graef Wines, Halcyon Wines, Iter Wine, Kessler Haak Vineyard, La Montagne Winery, Larner Vineyard, Levo Wines, Mallea Wines, MCV Wines, Millesime Cellars, C. Nagy Wines, Pace Family Wines, Press Gang Cellars, Rhythm Wines, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Scott Cellars, Seagrape Wines, small + tall wines, Stirm Wines, STANGER/JP3, Tercero Wines, Travieso Winery, Trojak-Knier Winery, Weatherborne, West of Temprance and Workman Ayer.

Garagiste Festival Sponsors are Tonnellerie St. Martin, Glenn Burdette and Farm Credit West; hotel sponsors are VisitSYV.com and the Hamlet Inn.

 

Dreamcote Wine Co. releases hard cider by the growler, plans cider expansion

Dreamcote Wine Co. releases hard cider by the growler, plans cider expansion

dreamcote-cider-6-30-15.jpg

  Winemakers Anna Clifford and Brittany Zotovich always have something new up their collective sleeves.

The two, the minds behind Dreamcote Wine Co., this year produced small batches of hard apple cider, which will be formally released this Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Dreamcote Fall Wine Release party, along with a new grenache, sausages and small-batch mustards and yes, guests wearing lederhosen.

In North America, “cider” is unfiltered apple juice. Beverages such as Dreamcote’s are known as hard cider, as they are fermented. While alcohol levels vary, they're usually below 10 percent. Dreamcote's is at 7 percent.

I caught up with the ever-affable Zotovich earlier this week in Buellton at Terravant Wine Company, where she is senior director of sales/winery services.

Dreamcote's cider is available at select eateries and via the Los Olivos tasting room and can be purchased by the bottle or growler

For several months, Dreamcote's 100-percent apple cider has been available by the bottle, but only recently have Clifford and Zotovich also made it obtainable via 2-liter growlers, poured straight from the keg.

The Dreamcote cider can be found at Scratch Kitchen in Lompoc and Industrial Eats in Buellton, as well as at a couple of Los Angeles accounts, where sales “are cranking,” Zotovich said.

She and Clifford are enthusiastic about experimenting with “cider trials” when they produce another batch in the next few months, and, Zotovich added ,“we hope to evolve into a line of seasonal and fruit ciders,” such as one made with apricots.

She discovered new inspiration by attending the Cider Summit in Portland last June. The Northwest Cider Association sponsors the two-day event in the food/wine/craft beer/spirits-savvy city. Zotovich returned home full of ideas and with a bright tank (vessel for secondary fermentation of beer or cider) in the back of her truck.

While Portland is a metropolis, it showcases an entrepreneurial spirit reminiscent of a smaller town, and encourages hand-crafted goods of all types. The earnest and enterprising Zotovich took note.

“I want to bring Portland down here as much as possible!”

Dreamcote's Fall Wine Release Party will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Los Olivos, 2933 San Marcos Ave. (down the street from the corner of San Marcos and Alamo Pintado avenues).

 

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for centralcoastwinepress.com

 

 

'Bubblyfest by the Sea' returning with parties, dinner, seminars and glamour

'Bubblyfest by the Sea' returning with parties, dinner, seminars and glamour

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  Following sold-out inaugural events at Pismo’s Beach’s 2014 Bubblyfest by the Sea and the Pop-Up BubblyFest in San Francisco last April, organizers are gearing up for a sell-out year two from Oct. 2 through 4 in the seaside town of Pismo Beach. "Bubblyfest by the Sea is an upscale, educational, dedicated sparkling wine and Champagne event, with a touch of humor thrown in,” said Holly Holliday, event producer.

Jeremy Ball/Bottle Branding The debut Bubblyfest by the Sea last year. This year's event returns to the ocean front setting at SeaCrest in Pismo Beach

Bubblyfest will return to the ocean front SeaCrest Hotel, located at 2241 Price St.

Ticket sales opened in February, and while VIP tickets were snapped up within a week, a few remain available for the Grand Tasting Saturday, as well as Friday’s excursion, dinner, seminars and cocktail party, Holliday told me today.

Visit http://www.bubblyfest.com/schedule-of-events/ for details on each event from Friday through Saturday.

All bubbly, all the time. Organizers expect the weekend event to be another sell-out.

New this year is the Sparkling Wine “Excursionar,” a chauffeured field trip to Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, a local specialist in sparkling wines. Attendees will enjoy an extremely rare tour of the famed production facility, and will taste through and learn about the nuances of all seven of Laetitia’s sparklers with winemaker Dave Hickey in the vineyard during the winery’s harvest activities.

David Glancy, Friday’s seminar facilitator, is the founder and chief education officer of the San Francisco Wine School, and one of just 12 people in the world to pass both the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Master Exam (MS) and the Society of Wine Educators’ Certified Wine Educator exam (CWE).

The San Francisco Wine School offers professional wine studies, among them the French Wine Scholar (FWS), Society of Wine Educators’ programs (SWE) and the California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS).

Glancy also heads SFsommelier Consulting and sits on the editorial advisory board of Sommelier Journal.

Glancy will "lead" participants to the Champagne region for an educational tasting on the history of Champagne and the new age of California Sparkling wines, Holliday said.

The winemaking panelists are Clarissa Nagy of Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, Tyler Elwell of Halcyon Wines and Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars. They will discuss vintages, growing conditions, terroir and winemaking styles between the “Old Guard” and “New Guard,” Holliday said.

More information:

Web and tickets: www.bubblyfest.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bubblyfest Twitter: https://twitter.com/bubblyfest

 

Wine & Fire 2015 highlights Sta. Rita Hills' chardonnay, pinot noir and grilled meat

Wine & Fire 2015 highlights Sta. Rita Hills' chardonnay, pinot noir and grilled meat

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Wine & Fire, the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers’ Alliance annual event, returns to the AVA this weekend, Aug. 14-17, with a barn party Friday evening, a namesake “fire” barbecue seminar Saturday morning and the grand tasting at La Purisima Mission late that afternoon. More than 40 of the SRHWGA vineyard or winemaking members will participate in the three main events, and most will also offer open houses and special tastings throughout the weekend.

The AVA comprises 30,720 acres, with 2,700 acres planted between 59 vineyards. Most common are pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, but 18 other cool-climate varietals also thrive. Visit http://www.staritahills.com/appellation/ for a map of the appellation.

Kimberly Spies Photography/ Guests at the 2014 Wine & Fire Barn Party relish the gorgeous view of the Sta. Rita Hills from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard historic barn

Wine & Fire 2015 opens Friday evening with the Barn Party, held for the third year in a row at the old Sanford & Benedict barn, standing on a hillside in the historic vineyard on Santa Rosa Road. The venue offers a breathtaking view of some of the most celebrated vineyards in Santa Barbara County.

Friday’s event will feature large format and library wines from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, as well as fire-grilled pizzas from Bello Forno, and music by the Caverns.

Putting the “fire” back in Wine & Fire is the debut Saturday morning of the “BBQ Blast” seminar, also at the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard barn.

That event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Joe Padilla of Terravant Wine Company is the master of ceremonies, said Barbara Satterfield, executive director of the SRHWGA. With the weekend’s renewed focus on grilling, four of the region’s hottest barbecue chefs will share with seminar participants their hot tips on four different wood-fire cooking techniques. The four are Steve Clifton, Rodrigo Gimenez, Frank Ostini and Matt Toll. Following the “fire” presentation, “wine” will be added to the mixture as select SRHWGA members team up with the four chefs to pair their wines with the barbecue for seminar guests.

The four teams:

Steve’s Rogue Vineyard Team: This team will be led by Clifton, the area’s local expert on everything Italian (via Palmina Wines), as well as world-class pinot noir and chardonnay (via Brewer-Clifton Wines), will “rock the art of wood-fired flat breads” with the use of his pizza oven, Satterfield noted. Pairings: Selected wineries.

Clos Pepe Vineyard Team: Born and raised in Mendoza, Argentina, Rodrigo Gimenez grew up enjoying fire-roasted meats. The Argentine barbecue technique was cultivated over hundreds of years by that nation’s gauchos. Pairings: Clos Pepe Vineyard wines produced by Ken Brown, Clos Pepe and Liquid Farm. Gabe Saglie, noted TravelZoo editor and writer and one of my wine-scribe compadres, will round out the team.

Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Team: Frank Ostini, owner and chef at the Hitching Post II Restaurant, specializes in open-pit red oak barbecue, a Central Coast classic style that is gaining attention nationwide. Ostini, co-owner with Gray Hartley of Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post wines, travels the country representing our local food and wine mecca when he’s not making wine or fantastic barbecue. Pairing: Wines from Stanford & Benedict Vineyard, led by winemaker Steve Fennell of Sanford Winery; Shawn Burgert, Wandering Wino blogger and radio host; and the wines from Hitching Post Wines.

Zotovich Vineyard Team: Matt Toll of Tollhouse BBQ focuses on the long, slow cook with his own dry rub spices and a big rig smoker. Timing is everything when it comes to smoking, Toll believes, and he’ll share with guests the trade secrets of the closed smoker, Satterfield said. Pairing: Zotovich Vineyard wines from Zotovich Cellars, and Transcendence Wines

Cargasacchi Vineyard Team: Cargasacchi Vineyard will feature Cargasacchi, Loring Wine Company and Siduri Wines to accompany winemaker Peter Cargasacchi’s barbecue sliders.

Kessler-Haak Vineyard Team: Representing this team will be Kessler-Haak and LaMontagne and its grilling team, headed by LaMontagne’s Theron Smith, who plans to serve up tasty treats. Joining this team will be Michael Horn from CRN Radio. Pairing: Kessler-Haak Vineyard wines produced by Kessler-Haak and LaMontagne wineries.

Kimberly Spies Photography/ Wines poured during the 2014 Wine & Fire Barn Party. This year's Friday event will feature large format and library wines

The band The Luck will provide music following the education seminar and during the tasting portion of the event.

One of my favorite spots, the beautiful and peaceful La Purisima Mission, will once again host Saturday evening’s grand tasting, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Join more than 40 winemaking members of the SHRWGA, sizzling local chefs and farmers for an evening of chilling and grilling

Avant, Babe Farms, Campbell Farms, Central Coast Specialty Foods, Homegrown Cowboy, The Hitching Post II, Los Amigos BBQ, RGC Argentine BBQ, Tollhouse BBQ, Scratch Kitchen and the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers will offer an amazing selection of local food favorites.

Providing live music will be father-daughter duo Country Heart.

Many SRHWGA members will also offer open houses and specials throughout the weekend. See http://www.staritahills.com/wine-fire for complete details on ticket sales, participating wineries, restaurants and food vendors, a list of open houses and more.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

Lompoc's Scratch Kitchen debuts winemaker dinners with Kessler-Haak Wines

Lompoc's Scratch Kitchen debuts winemaker dinners with Kessler-Haak Wines

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Augusto Caudillo and winemakers Dan and Ellen Kessler-Haak collaborated July 19 for the first-ever winemaking dinner at the Lompoc eatery Caudillo co-owns, Scratch Kitchen. Scratch Kitchen started service in early May, just three months ago. The chefs and co-owners, Augusto Caudillo and Gonzalo Pacheco, opened their doors to a lot of anticipation in this town — one that’s primarily working class and woefully light on quality food that isn’t Mexican or Thai.

Lompoc residents, starved for the innovative slash healthy cuisine easily found in other nearby cities, descended upon Scratch en masse, especially during lunchtime and for Sunday brunch.

For years, Caudillo, a 2006 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas, and chef Gonzalo Pacheco, his business partner and brother-in-law, had tossed around the idea of opening their own restaurant.

Caudillo is the youngest of eight children, and was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and raised on the Central Coast, according to www.scratch-kitchen.com He has worked at various restaurants around the country, including Lucky’s in Montecito, and as a personal chef.

Pacheco, born and raised in Mexico, moved to Santa Barbara in 1991, where he was introduced to the local restaurant industry. He graduated from the Hotel, Restaurant and Culinary Program at Santa Barbara City College in 1997, and worked in restaurants as varied as the Wine Cask, Fess Parker’s Grand Hotel in Los Olivos, and, like Caudillo, at Lucky’s.

* * *

On Sunday, July 19, arriving patrons were handed flutes of Kessler-Haak’s sparkling wine and pointed to a buffet of fresh fruits, crackers, breads and cheeses.

“I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d pick for a first-time winemaking dinner than Dan and Ellen of Kessler-Haak,” Caudillo said.

Once guests were seated, Caudillo, coordinating an eight-person wait and bar staff, put plates down in front of the 20-plus guests simultaneously, an impressive feat, and our meal began.

All of the courses and wines were well timed and the plates full of color and the food artfully arranged.

Pickled beets, watermelon and more comprised "Sottaceto," paired with chardonnay

Leading off was “Sottaceto,” meaning “pickled” in Italian, a plate featuring medallions of fried goat cheese, beets, chives, cucumbers and watermelon radishes paired with Kessler-Haak’s 2013 Estate Chardonnay.

Next up was a strawberry confit and herb salad served with the Kessler-Haak 2014 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir. The salad featured Iberico cheese, which balanced the bright-fruit acidity of the wine.

Roasted Tasmanian trout with pancetta and basil paired perfectly with Kessler-Haak's 2011 estate pinot noir

My favorite pairing was the choice by the chefs/winemakers to pair roasted Tasmanian trout, served ratatouille style with pancetta and basil, with the KH 2011 Estate Pinot Noir. The fish was perfect in flavor and texture, and the pancetta brought an elegant level of smoke to the table — but did not overpower the wine.

The fourth course featured a pistachio-crusted lamb loin served with a delicious cauliflower au jus with a smidge of mint jelly. Accompanying this was the 2013 KH Lafond Vineyard Syrah.

Lamb loin with cauliflower, mint and lamb jus

True story: I scraped clean my plate; I’ve never tasted better flavors of cauliflower.

Our meal ended with a dessert trio: A cheesecake bite, homemade Snickers-style chocolate bar, suitably melted in the heat of the night, and a tiny cheese board canapé. Accompanying these small-but-mighty-rich desserts was the Kessler Haak 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Star Lane Vineyard in Happy Canyon.

Three small but mighty desserts were paired with Kessler-Haak's 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Star Lane Vineyard

Scratch Kitchen is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m., also Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday dinner, 5 to 9 p.m.

Details: 610 North H Street, Lompoc, 809.0829

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

PROTOCOL Wine Studio illuminates both the business and passion of wine

Imagine a place where one can not only taste and buy wine, but also study and learn about wine, meet winemakers and delve into the soul of the California, U.S. and global wine industry. Such a business does exist: PROTOCOL wine studio, located in a San Diego business park.

Eric Guy and Tina Morey, the brains and passion behind PROTOCOL in San Diego

Calling itself “True Wine Culture,” PROTOCOL is the brainchild of business partners Eric Guy and Tina Morey, and operates as a parent company to four endeavors: #Winestudio Project, WineStudio, Wine Intel and Le Metro Wine.

First, Le Metro Wine: Its owners call this “the world’s most cutting edge wine club,” which is led by a team of wine professionals, writers and artists.

Each of the six-bottle wine collections focuses on a theme.

Along with Guy and Morey is Aaron Epstein, who is described on the website as a “writer, dreamer, wine geek and stay-at-home dad.” After “studying, selling and writing about wine since before he could legally drink it” and traveling around the globe to work in nearly every facet of the wine industry, Epstein in 2012 moved to San Diego, and teamed with Guy and Morey to create Le Metro, where his role is “curator.”

He continues to write, contributing to Edible San Diego and Riviera San Diego, and writes his own blog, winedad.com, full of his adventures as a stay-at-home dad.

Epstein was recognized in Imbibe’s 2015 “Imbibe 75,” a list honoring “People, Places and Flavors that will shape the way you drink in 2015.”

Epstein’s big news, which I stumbled across visiting his blog, is that he, his wife and their son are moving to Shenzhen, China, at month’s end. “Big changes this way come; thanks to Wifey’s consulting gig, we’re preparing to embark on a yearlong family adventure,” he wrote. Alas, he will bid farewell to Le Metro Wine.

But before he does, enter “Rosé on Midsummer’s Eve”, coming to San Diego’ Westgate Hotel from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 20, promoted by PROTOCOL and hosted by Le Metro Wine.

The goal: Sipping rosé wines from around the world, and watching the sun set on one of the longest days of the year from San Diego’s most glamorous outdoor patio, The Westgate Hotel’s Riviera Fountain Terrace. A selection of Provençal-style charcuterie – cheeses, meat board, garden-fresh vegetables and potato bar — will be available for nibbling, while San Diego’s funk and soul 14-piece band “Bump N Brass” will entertain guests all night — wear your dancing shoes!

Tickets are $55 for Le Metro subscribers, and $75 per person (through June 12) and then $89 the week of the event.

The backstory:

I met Guy and Morey in late summer 2013 when I accompanied two Santa Barbara County winemakers down to PROTOCOL Wine Studio to attend a winetasting featuring a handful of small producers. The space itself resembles an artists’ studio slash gallery slash classroom, with a small office off the far end. No glamour; pure utility and function.

Like many I’ve profiled in the wine industry, both Guy and Morey segued into wine education and retail from other careers. I’ll let them tell their stories …

Eric Guy: “Mine was a path with no heart. After 12 years in the banking and investment industry, I was well on my way to achieving everything I desired. And yet as I entered the decade of my 30s, I was completely miserable.

“So I stepped out of the relative comfort of white-collar existence and dared to ask the question, “What if I gave up everything in the pursuit of something meaningful?  And more importantly, what could that be?

“Not long after I sensed a life change was due, I found myself on a trip to San Francisco and onward through wine country.”

During this journey, Guy noted, he caught the flu, and …

“Through two nights of alternating between shivering and sweating, the spirit of the vines enveloped me. As I walked from the Eagle & Rose Inn, my refuge from this strange affliction, a seed was planted in my mind. It was a simple and casual thought, not the life-altering gong one might expect from an idea that would change my life. The thought was simply, “I wonder what working in the wine business would be like?”

I’ve spent the last decade of my life pursuing that question by unrolling my passion for wine and all that lies beneath it from culture, to history from science to socializing. Since entering the wine business I’ve worked as a retail floor grunt, wine buyer, retail manager, wine storage coordinator and Sommelier. The adventure has been worth every minute.  For me this is a business with heart, one that enables me to cultivate a life that I truly love.

Guy leads the West Coast workings of PROTOCOL wine.

Tina Morey:

“Wine was always at the family dinner table, especially the extended family. Even when I left home after college, wine was on someone else’s table and although I drank it and wonderful times were had, there was yet to be that wine “epiphany” everyone describes. So I went about my life: technical writer, pastry chef, caterer, wedding cake company chef and owner.

“It was a last-minute reservation at The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington, that did it for me. We sat at a communal table, spoke and laughed with folks from all over the country, listened to a classical guitarist.

“The highlight for me was the professionalism and ease that each and every staff member elicited. I wanted that confidence, that knowledge, that sense of complete trust of each member’s ability at any given time during the evening. The wine was part of the entire experience, but it fit so seamlessly it never stood out, but floated from course to course — a tightly choreographed play where guest was center stage.

“That was 2005, so just two years later I sold the cake business and enrolled into the first Court of Master Sommeliers Education Program in the United States.

“Now a Certified Sommelier, I’m on the long and winding path toward Master of Wine. And that’s when I met Guy, who was a fellow employee at a local wine retail shop where I was hired as “lowly floor employee.”

There I had the opportunity to connect labels with actual winemakers and experience my first communal tasting glass experience with the other shop employees. During my time in the business, I’ve met the craziest and most sincere people I’ve ever known and I’m lucky to have called them colleagues and friends.

Today, Morey spends most days nurturing PROTOCOL’s East Coast clientele.

Both Guy and Morey are down to earth but full of knowledge and experiences about every aspect of wine, a fact that makes them a joy to be around. “Taste it, share it, live it!” is how they view their lives in wine, and I’d call that a most appropriate motto for the wine life.

Wine Intel. Sounds intriguing, yes? Think of it as intelligent solutions to wine management, especially the financial aspects of collections, and answers to questions ranging from transportation to liquidation and more. In addition, Wine Intel offers sommelier skills, for events and overall education, as well as wine consulting, retail services development and wine-list creation.

Finally, #WineStudio: This is PROTOCOL’s online Twitter-based program to “engage palates and brains.” It’s a combination of instruction and tasting, with a focus on producers, grape varietals, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching — and how this affects wine imbibers, say Guy and Morey.

Earlier this year, Morey graciously included me during a month-long focus on select bloggers, asking each of us to share how we came to write about wine and winemaking. Those of you Tweeters know that the Twitter-sphere is rapid-fire quick and demands concise language (skills I was forced to relearn during the evening I participated in #WineStudio).

I bemoan the fact that a lengthy drive separates me from PROTOCOL's home base, but someday, I will return for a dose of wine education, or a special tasting.

Information and contact details:

Here's more about PROTOCOL, straight from the heart of Morey and Guy:

PROTOCOL wine studio: Five Years On - A Start-up just Starting

http://protocolwinestudio.com

Eric Guy GUY@protocolwine.com

Tina Morey tina.morey@protocolwine.com

Location: 4186 Sorrento Valley Blvd., Suite H, San Diego CA 92121

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

Local women winemakers celebrate Women's History Month with March 28 tasting

Women winemakers, winery owners and managers, viticulturists, enologists and cellar hands will gather on March 28 to taste and toast in celebration of Women’s History Month. “Long before Congress designated March as Women’s History Month, women have been making wine history here in Santa Barbara County,” said Sonja Magdevski, owner/winemaker of Casa Dumetz, who will host the tasting at her two Los Alamos tasting rooms (Casa Dumetz and Babi’s Beer Emporium).

“Whether at the helm of winemaking, as pioneers Lane Tanner and Kathy Joseph have always been, coming up through the cellar ranks like Lorna Kreutz or, like Megan McGrath, moving into our area because of the allure of Santa Barbara County, our winegrowing region has always included women in winegrowing,” she said.

Karen Steinwachs, winemaker for Buttonwood Farm Winery, with Al Harry tasting, right

The tasting will feature a broad array of wines made by Santa Barbara County’s women, including those from Bonaccorsi, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, Cambria, Carhartt, Casa Dumetz, Cebada Vineyard, Cold Heaven, Foley, Harrison-Clarke, Kitá, LaMontagne, Lucas & Lewellen, C. Nagy, Rideau, Riverbench and William-James Cellars in a casual and convivial environment.

“Of the more than 3,400 wineries in California, approximately 10 percent have a woman as their lead winemaker,” said Clarissa Nagy, winemaker for both Riverbench and her own C. Nagy wines.

“We believe the percentage here in Santa Barbara County to be much higher, and we also believe that women supporting our winemaking efforts in the office, the market, the cellar and the vineyard are just as important to the success of our region.  Let’s all stand up and be counted on March 28!”

The public is invited to the tasting, which will be held beginning at 6 p.m at Casa Dumetz, 448 Bell Street, in Los Alamos, CA 93440. The event is free of charge, and will include live music.

For more information, please contact winemaker Karen Steinwachs (Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard) at karen@vintegratedsolutions.com or 805.350.0257.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

Zaca Mesa invites local winemakers to focus on syrah during technical symposium

When I tasted with Mohseni on Jan. 7, he, Burrows and Matt Mauldin, Zaca Mesa’s California sales manager, were eager to share what they had in store on Jan. 15. Given the vineyard’s history with syrah, and Mohsenti’s desire to brainstorm fresh ideas on how to market syrah to consumers, he and his staff had organized a “Syrah Bull Session.” Invited were Santa Barbara County’s syrah legends, among them Bob Lindquist, Craig Jaffurs, Bill Wathen of Foxen and Chad Melville of Melville and Samsara.

Since Hospice du Rhone relocated to Tennessee, and the the Rhone Rangers’ closest event takes place in San Francisco, Mosheni hoped today’s inaugural tasting would kick start other sessions throughout the year, and he plans to host a second seminar later this spring, with a date to be determined.

Syrah samples from the winemakers participating at Zaca Mesa's "Bull Session" on Jan. 15

On this morning, we were seated around tables in the cellar, ready to taste more than syrahs, and talk clones, climate and consumers.

Santa Barbara County syrah is a force with which to be reckoned, with 8 percent of the county’s vineyards planted to syrah. That compares to 6 percent of vineyards throughout California.

In addition to Zaca Mesa, those participating were the winemakers from Casa Dumetz, Fess Parker, Blair Fox Cellars, Firestone, Foxen, Jaffurs, Melville/Samsara, Municipal and Qupe.

Each winemaker poured two or three wine samples, and discussed clones, rootstock, barrel aging and winemaking techniques.

One of Mohseni’s wines, for example, was a barrel sample of 2013 Syrah, Estrella clone, planted on 37-year-old own rooted vines that grow in sandy loam soil.

Representing Coastal Vineyard Care Associates were Jeff Newton, Ruben Solorzano and Ben Merz.

A representative from Sunridge Nurseries was invited but unable to attend, Mohseni noted, as were a few other local winemakers.

The Estrella clone was one of the stars of the day, for as Chad Melville pointed out, “there’s more Estrella planted here (Santa Barbara County) than throughout Northern California.” Other clonal discussion boosted the merits of 470, 877, 383 and 174.

Despite Estrella’s prevalence, it seems that no one clone is more “popular” than another. When asked to define the clone most in demand, Newton responded: “Our criteria is to follow the lead of the winemaker.

In addition, multiple syrah clones on own-rooted rootstock in a particular block “creates an interesting mix” in a wine, Newton said.

Lindquist, whose Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in Edna Valley was planted in 2005, favors terroir over clonal choice, noting how his site resembles “coolness” found in the Santa Maria Valley, where “cool climate syrah” really shines.

Santa Barbara County as a whole has “uniqueness” not found in other nearby regions because of the overall coolness found here, Lindquist said.

The winemakers present agreed that a tasting of library wines and a syrah “site tasting” would be educational, and that “banding together to get wine out there to the sommeliers and press” would benefit producers across the board.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press

"Thursday's Bottle" reunites for session of festive sparkling wines

"Thursday's Bottle" reunites for session of festive sparkling wines

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Welcome back to the second “Thursday’s Bottle,” an occasional adventure in blind tastings and wine reviews. The Thursday's Bottle series debuted in October of last year when the “panel” tasted three grenaches. Read that story here

As I noted with the grenache review, we’re a small group of food and wine geeks as serious as serious can be. We taste, talk and take notes. At the end of the evening, I double check that I can decipher all the notes, and then turn everyone’s thoughts into a story.

On Dec. 20, five of us gathered once again, this time to taste three sparkling wines. Before we tasted, I, as host, divulged only that one bottle was from Santa Barbara County and two were “Europe.”

The players: Katie Baillargeon and Marcel Rivera-Baillargeon, UCSB creative writing professor and online marketing specialist, respectively; Angela Soleno, winemaker/owner, Turiya Wines; Jeremy Smith, course director at Marshallia Ranch Golf Course, and myself.

Bottle One: “Smells light, with subtle fruit; fruity mid-palate; nice acid; not chardonnay; maybe the local one; creamy; opaque; acidic; green; light bubbles; lack of fruit on the first taste; light green on the second taste; light green apple on the nose; limestone; medium bubbles; heavy bubbles on mouth feel; not French; unbalanced; not the local bottle; light on the aromatics; sweet on mid-palate; hard to get anything on the nose; ocean, salty, saline; apricot and bread/yeast; mouth fizzles out; kind of disappointing; steely green limes.”

Bottle Two: “More carbonic than bottle one; meaty, color-rich; bigger; more substance on own; honey, fruity, hay; cotton candy, vanilla; smells like a love story; soft and lovely, gentle; we’re getting married and serving this at the reception; muted smell; like more than bottle one, and reminds me of rosé wine; like aftertaste/finish; smooth; fruit-forward; local; berry on the nose; balanced and sweet; honey; more residual sugar; France or mainland; nicely balanced; hay.”

Bottle Three: “Apple-y; nice and fruity; acidic, but like a middle range between bottles one and two; light bubbles, my favorite of three; Alsace; lighter color; long finish; this is local; the most balanced of the three; sweet but acidic finish; light nose; green apple taste; smells like California; fruity and sweet; makes me want to put it in my mouth; lemon zest; it’s great, but not amazing.”

The wines:

Bottle One: Mosby Wines Stelline di Cortese, estate, NV, $20. (Stelline di Cortese translates to “Little Stars of Cortese”). www.mosbywines.com

Bottle Two: Heitlinger 2009 Blanc de Noirs, Germany, $33 (Distributed by Wine Wise, the Vienna Wine Co.) http://www.weingut-heitlinger.de/de/

Bottle Three: Karanika NV Xinomavro Brut Cuvée Spéciale, Greece, $33 (Also distributed by Wine Wise). http://winewise.biz/producers/karanika/

I discovered both the Karanika and Heitlinger during a tasting Dec. 10 at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant. The focus that evening was on sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines, and you can read the story I wrote for Noozhawk.com here

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig Mountain Brew Co. opens Santa Maria taproom on Betteravia Road

  Four years ago, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company was a new operation named after a local mountain favored by hikers and bicyclists.

Today, Santa Barbara County locals know “Fig” as the place to meet for a cold one after work, for Quiz Night or for televised sports. From the original taproom on Industrial Way in Buellton, to the second site in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone to the smallest and newest site in Los Olivos, “Fig” rules.

The newest to open its doors is the Santa Maria taproom, located at 560 East Betteravia Road at College Avenue. The new site shares space with Me-n-Ed’s Pizza —once inside, go left for Fig and right for Me-n-Ed’s — and patrons can order Fig beer from the Me-n-Ed’s side, and pizza from the Fig side.

Kady Fleckenstein, Figueroa Mountain’s brand manager, and Jaime Dietenhofer, CEO and president, detailed the brewery’s expansion into the North County during a lunch at the taproom Nov. 13.

Spicy tater tots are on the menu at the new Santa Maria Fig Mountain Brew taproom

Santa Maria is short on night life, said Fleckenstein, and Fig hopes to fill that void. There will be football every Monday, Thursday and Sunday, and doors will open at 11 a.m. daily. On the menu are beer floats and beer cocktails, and a menu specific to Santa Maria, such as a tri-tip beef sandwich and tri-tip tacos.

“We want to make this a local place,” Dietenhofer said.

The taproom offers its own Mug Club for residents from Los Alamos to Nipomo. Among the perks are a discount card, field trips and chances to meet other folks who favor Fig Mountain beers.

Members of the military will receive a 10 percent discount on all orders, Fleckenstein said.

Fig Tri tip tacos

The Santa Maria taproom features bar and table seating with all of the core beers — among them Lizard’s Mouth, Imperial IPA, Hoppy Poppy and Davey Brown — on tap, as well as seasonal and special brews. And the menu features “bar bites” — delicious tri-tip tacos, a burger, tri-tip sandwich, spicy tater tots and chicken wings.

Lizard’s Mouth continues to be Fig’s most popular beer: “We can’t make it fast enough,” said Dietenhofer.

Early next year, Fig Mountain will continue its expansion with taprooms in both Arroyo Grande and Westlake Village, Fleckenstein said, and both of those sites will also contain breweries just like the original Buellton taproom.

Giving Fig’s booming expansion some scale, Dietenhofer noted that the company’s current overall production is between 15,000 and 20,000 barrels per year, and “we’re headed toward 60,000,” he said.

In 2010, when Fig opened its doors, production was 100 barrels and there were just five employees. Now Fig employs 100 people, Dietenhofer said.

Even with booming growth, however, the owners will never mess with a good thing: the beers themselves. Once the Arroyo Grande and Westlake Village sites open, Fig will have a total of seven brewers on staff, Fleckenstein said.

“Our beer recipes always stay the same, and all of our brew staff gets trained in Buellton.”

This weekend, Figueroa Mountain will celebrate its fourth anniversary from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Buellton facility. Featured will be live music from Stiff Pickle Orchestra and the Molly Ringwald Project, good eats from the Pairing Knife food truck and games and contests,

“This is an extra special year for us,” said David Esdaile, Buellton taproom manager, referring to the brewery’s skyrocketing growth. “We consider ourselves a family, and we’ve grown substantially this year with new employees, Mug Club members and customers.”

The anniversary beer to be released Saturday will be a Belgian-style Abbey Quadrupel that was aged in oak barrels with figs.

“This massive dark beer is heady with dark fruit aromas along with deep caramel notes and a deep malt backbone,” noted Mike Hastings, director of brewing operations.

Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer, father and son, founded Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in 2010, paying homage to the Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and labels featuring hand-drawn artwork depicting the local landscape.

Learn more about @FigMtnBrew or where to find the beer at www.figmtnbrew.com

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arroyo Grande's Comfort Market specializes in quality, comfort food for lunch, dinner

Less than six months after opening, Comfort Market in Arroyo Grande is getting lots of attention from diners and restaurant writers alike. A writer from the San Jose Mercury News recently paid a visit to Comfort and Ember and sang the praises of both.

Late one very warm October afternoon, I visited owner Kari Ziegler at the end of a long drive, looking for comfort — literally — from the heat of the road. She plied me with ice water, handed me the menu and suggested something cool and refreshing: The Morro Bay Tuna Niçoise Salad. It was marvelous, with fresh everything, from the bread to the tuna to the eggs to the generous slices of red onion.

 

Morro Bay Tuna Niçoise Salad at Comfort Market

Ziegler welcomes the praise and adoration from diners, because in addition to having a hand in everything from shopping to prepping, she photographs soups and sandwiches to promote Comfort via social media.

And it’s working: Regulars watch Twitter and Facebook to learn the daily soup specials. Ziegler likens it to being stalked — but in a good way.

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Ziegler, who owned the now-closed Gather Wine Bar further down Branch Street, has long had a bead on the community’s appetite for good food. If she and her staff make it, hungry people will come and eat it.

Ziegler relies on fresh, quality ingredients to turn out treasures such as the Taylor Ham & Cheddar, “a New Jersey classic,” with pork, cheddar cheese and a fried egg served on a brioche bun, or the Turkey Mango Stilton: Roast turkey breast with melted ginger-mago Stilton cheese and mozzarella, finished with local spinach and mayo on wheat.

Taylor ham and cheddar on Brioche

Seriously, I’m drooling as I write.

Ziegler understands that running an eatery is rewarding — and exhausting. The restaurant business incorporates cranky customers for whom nothing is right, but also faithful fans who hang on your every entrée and talk you up like nobody’s business.

Ziegler and her executive chef, Jaime "Jimmy" Mendoza, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, have teamed to offer a series of cooking classes that recently launched, appropriately, with a how-to on homemade soup.

As of this morning, only a few tickets remain for the next class, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30. Visit Comfort Markets, or https://www.facebook.com/comfortmkt for more information.

Details: Comfort Market is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (although the doors close when the food sells out, which happens). Located at 116 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande; comfortmarkets.com

In addition to on-site dining, Comfort offers custom picnic baskets, catering and a selection of pastas, sauces and more.

http://comfortmarkets.com/espresso-menus/menus/

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press

New at CCWP: The Business of Wine

Editor's Note: Welcome to what I hope will be a weekly posting of events, news about the Central Coast wine industry and the people behind the wine. “BUBBLYFEST by the Sea” nation’s first sparkling wine festival

The resurgence of sparkling wine consumption has inspired the nation’s first and only dedicated sparkling wine festival.

BubblyFest by the Sea will take place in the scenic, seaside town of Pismo Beach Oct. 24 to 26, highlighting more than 40 domestic and international producers of “bubbly” in a weekend-long festival.

The festival kicks off from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday with a Gatsby-themed Cocktail Mixer at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa. Gatsby-themed attire is encouraged. Unique Champagne cocktails will be paired with gourmet appetizers, the sounds of jazz band The Tipsy Gypsies, and stunning cliff-side views of the Pacific Ocean (Cost: $60 per person).

The BUBBLYFEST Grand Tasting will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel, where guests sample pours from more than 40 local, domestic and international producers of Champagne and sparkling wine.

Also featured will be gourmet samplings of artisan cheeses, chocolates, oysters, bread and other bites, as well as sparkling cocktail concoctions and musical entertainment. (Cost: $65 per person).

Finally, on Sunday, BUBBLYFEST will return to Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa for a Sunday Funday Champagne brunch from 10 a.m. to noon.

Staged on the ocean-side patio of the resort’s Lido Restaurant, the event will feature a three-course gourmet brunch prepared by Chef Jacob Moss, paired with bottomless Champagne. The Dan Curio of Moonshiner Collective will provide live music to complete the light-and-fun ambiance (Cost: $45 per person).

For more information and tickets, visit www.bubblyfest.com.

Wine Spectator honors Orcutt’s Far Western Tavern with 2014 Award of Excellence

The Far Western Tavern in Old Town Orcutt has earned the prestigious "2014 Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine, an honor reserved for select restaurants with exemplary wine lists.

The complete results will be published in the Aug. 31 annual restaurant issue of the Wine Spectator.

“We are thrilled to bring the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence to the Santa Maria Valley,” said Benjamin Chanler-Laurin, general manager and sommelier of the Far Western Tavern.

The Far Western Tavern was determined to take its wine list to the next level, with active input and support from restaurant co-owners, he explained.

“Some of the family members are vintners and wine collectors themselves,” he said. “They understood the significance of creating a standout wine list.”

“We really started to emphasize chardonnay, pinot noir and Rhône varietals — wines that excel in the Santa Maria Valley and across the Central Coast,” he said.

“At the same time, we wanted to offer examples of these same varietals from regions such as Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, to provide context and offer our local winemakers some international flavors to enjoy. And most important, we wanted to offer a diverse selection of affordable wines that paired well with our menu, including cabernet sauvignon and other varietals.”

(Editor’s note: Bien Nacido Vineyard held its 40th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner May 29 at Far Western, and the Miller Family graciously included me. I found the meal and wines paired with the five courses to be exquisite, in particular, the oak grilled Scottish salmon with hazelnut risotto and pan seared duck breast with grilled fennel and braised beets. The first and second courses each included three wines, and the others at least one. Besides, seated at my table were local winemaking legends Bob Lindquist, Jim Clendenen, James Ontiveros, Joshua Clapper and Trey Fletcher, making the evening one for the books). 

2014 grape crop predicted to be slightly less than that of 2013

California’s wine type grape production is forecast at 3.9 million tons for 2014, down 8 percent from 2013, according to a report issued Aug. 13 by the California Agricultural Statistics Service.

However, 3.9 million tons is still a sizable crop, and if estimates hold true, 2014 will be California's third-largest ever wine-grape crop to date.

The raisin crop is expected to be 1.95 million tons, down 13 percent from 2014, and table grape production is forecast at 1.20 million tons, down 2 percent.

The forecast is in line with Allied Grapegrowers’ earlier estimate of 3.8 to 4.0 million tons of wine grapes in 2014, though Allied president Nat Dibuduo said he thinks the state’s forecast for Thomson grapes may be high — with the Thompson crop down by as much as 20 or even 25 percent.

Send submissions for “The Business of Wine” to laurie@centralcoastwinepress.com, or winecountrywriter@gmail.com.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press