Thanksgiving is upon us! Hard to believe another year has flown by… (I know everyone says that, but it’s true!). Thanksgiving, to me, means family time, lots of food and, of course, wine. It’s also that time of year when I start to get a lot of wine pairing questions. Now, I am not one to tell people what to drink. I’d rather you drink what you know you enjoy, especially on a holiday. However, if you’re looking for wines that will pair well with all the different flavors on the Thanksgiving table, check out my rules & suggestions below!
Jamie Slone and wife Kym may be new to Santa Barbara, but they seem to be fitting right in. When you walk into their Santa Barbara tasting room, Jamie Slone Wines, you can guarantee you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome from the two of them and their cute dog, Sophie. I met with Jamie and Kym recently for my latest SB Sentinel column and had fun learning about their journey into the wine world over some of their wines.
I’ve tasted wine in some pretty cool locations before, from New Zealand to Portugal and Italy, and there’s no denying that each experience is unique and special in its own way. There are great wine experiences and then there are the exceptional ones… the pinch-me-is-this-real tasting where history, excellent wine, fantastic views and off-roading winery tours all come together. Where on earth could this possibly have taken place? None other than Mayacamas Vineyards, about 25 minutes outside of Napa on Mt. Veeder.
Sometimes a wine is special because you bought it for a special occasion. Sometimes a wine is special because of the people you drink it with, and other times a wine is special because there’s a unique story that comes with it. If the story tugs at the heart strings and makes you think about the people who made it when you take a sip, it’s special regardless of the price or taste.
I am very excited to announce a new monthly addition to my blog: 12 Questions With… Once a month, a winemaker, sommelier or wine aficionado will answer twelve questions selected by yours truly, each person getting the same set of questions to answer each month. The goal is to keep it fun and light-hearted while introducing you to some cool people in the wine industry.
If you remember my post on wine tasting in Los Olivos, you’ll know how much the town has changed. Once a dusty little western town, Los Olivos is now what I like to call a wine-lover’s Disneyland. There are over 30 tasting rooms (all within walking distance) in this quaint little town, with a plethora of good wine to choose from. It goes without saying that with so many options, it’s hard to decide where to go. A safe bet? Blair Fox Cellars, owned by winemaker Blair Fox and his wife, Sarah (both Santa Barbara natives).
It’s that time of year when everyone I know seems to be getting sick… and I am no exception! Since there are two sickies in our household, there’s no wine being drunk anytime soon. In the meantime, I’m sharing some pictures from a visit to Carmel this spring, also known as Carmel-by-the-Sea. Located less than 2 and a half hours south of San Francisco near Monterey, Carmel is a must-visit California coastal town.
Carmel is full of European-style Inns and B&Bs…
And quaint bakeries selling pretzels and pastries…
Just when I thought Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone couldn’t fit in any more tasting rooms, new places keep opening up! Even though they’re all different, each new place contributes to the funky, urban vibe that’s transformed the aptly named Funk Zone from an abandoned warehouse area to a bonafide wine and art destination. The SB Wine Collective, next door to Les Marchands and The Lark, opened up in early July and is the area’s first communal wine tasting location. Here you can taste small production wines from several different producers in an industrial, bright, and just plain cool spot. Not a bad addition to the neighborhood!
It’s been in the 90s around here in SB so it doesn’t really seem appropriate to be thinking about fall staples like soup, scarves and boots quite yet. Pumpkin spice? It’ll have to wait. It’s true – Southern California is still very much in summer mode and you wouldn’t know it’s October except for the fact that there’s football on. Before the weather turns and it ‘officially’ feels like fall, I’m still taking full advantage of my summer favs – from Sauvignon Blanc and picnics on the beach to light and zesty desserts, like these Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars I made the other night. The recipe, which is adapted from Tyler Florence’s, is an easy to make, not-too-sweet dessert that will leave you feeling like it’s mid-July (even if you’ve already whipped out the sweaters and leggings).
With sooo many wineries in the Napa Valley, it’s almost impossible to choose which ones to visit, especially if you have a limited amount of time. Do you go for the biggest names or most grandiose? The best or most exclusive wine? The off-the-beaten track wineries, or the ones you can get to on a tour bus? Tough choices, for sure. For me, I always enjoy a mixture of it all, but you can never really go wrong with a great view. CADE Estate Winery, located on the hillside of Howell Mountain just northeast of St. Helena, definitely has the view covered, but it’s the overall experience that makes it memorable.