I love learning about wine. Yes, I’m that person who takes notes at wine tastings and enthusiastically dives into geeky wine books. Although I’ve done my fair share of wine education and training, wine knowledge takes practice and it’s easy to forget things if you don’t keep up with it. I admit that after being pregnant and having a baby, my wine savviness has fallen a bit behind over the past year. So, I’ve made it a goal for 2018 to get back on track. Taste and study, study and taste! To help, I decided to join a few wine clubs that will introduce me to new wines from different regions, including two clubs from Les Marchands. I’m now on my second shipment and I have to say, it’s been a great educational tool!
While driving north on the 101 from Santa Barbara, it’s easy to pass Los Alamos and not even realize it’s there. Though the town is very small with just one main street, this one time stagecoach stop 50 miles north of Santa Barbara is now a bonafide foodie destination. Yep, this sleepy little western town has been revamped over the last few years, and no visit to Santa Barbara wine country is complete without a meal or two spent here. Better yet, stay a night or two. I promise you’ll find plenty to do!
Situated close to the coast, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara is a cool wine region ideally suited for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While these varieties make beautiful still and sparkling wines, there’s a very small handful of Santa Barbara producers who specialize in bubbles. Enter Strange Family Vineyards. This new player in the wine world is truly a hidden gem. Not only do they have a beautiful property, but their up-and-coming wines are some to take note of!
The holiday season is upon us, which means the internet is full of gift guides galore. Sure, Amazon gets plenty of my business this time of year, but it’s much more rewarding to support the small guys. While small businesses rely on us this time of year, the disruption the Thomas Fire has put on our entire Santa Barbara community has been palpable. Now more than ever, Santa Barbara businesses need our support! So, check out my Santa Barbara Holiday Gift Guide, featuring local and regional gifts for the food and wine lovers on your list!
Santa Barbara Wine Country hasn’t always been a foodie destination. In recent years, though, a few eateries have put towns like Los Alamos and Santa Ynez on the map. That makes me happy because if you know me, you know how much I like good food! So of course I was excited when new restaurant The Bear and Star hit the wine country culinary scene. Located in downtown Los Olivos, The Bear and Star offers ‘refined ranch’ food in a true farm-to-table dining experience.
If you live in Santa Barbara, you’ve probably heard of or have met winemaker Seth Kunin. There’s a good chance he’s poured his wines for you at one of his two popular tasting rooms in the Funk Zone. Or maybe you’ve run into him buying produce at the farmers’ market. A celebrated winemaker and California wine advocate, Seth was just one of those guys who seemed to know everyone and be everywhere! That’s why it’s so hard to write this in the wake of his passing. He was not only loved by all whom he encountered, but he was also my close friend.
Though it’s nice to earn points at hotel chains or relish in luxurious amenities at high-end resorts, there’s something special about boutique hotels. They’re charming, unique and typically offer warm hospitality, making a stay feel a little more personal. For all these reasons and more, I was excited to check out The Landsby, a lovely boutique hotel in Solvang. From the stylish ambiance to the peaceful courtyards, The Landsby brings a welcome sophisticated vibe to the valley!
When visiting Santa Barbara to taste wine, it’s easy to just hit up the cluster of tasting rooms in Los Olivos or stick to the urban wineries downtown. Even I find myself staying closer to home sometimes. But Santa Barbara’s northernmost AVA, the Santa Maria Valley, should not be overlooked. This cool region is home to some great wine! One winery to visit here is Presqu’ile Winery, a beautifully designed winery overlooking the Santa Maria Valley.
I’m all about eating and drinking for a good cause, which is why I was thrilled to finally attend LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade this past weekend. Held at UCLA, the fundraising event brought plenty of culinary star power for an afternoon of gourmet eats, inventive cocktails and top wine to benefit childhood cancer research. Now in its 8th year, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade raised an astonishing $1.3 million (beating last year’s record of $1M). Needless to say, it was a huge success!
When it comes to Moscato, I admit it’s not usually the first thing I reach for. However, there’s certainly a time and a place for a good Moscato d’Asti, the floral and fruity effervescent wine originating from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region. If made well, Moscato d’Asti can be a festive and fun wine that you should not be ashamed to drink. It’s a perfect summer refresher, and just so happens to be an excellent wine pairing with all the beautiful peaches that are in season… and I have just the pairing: Moscato d’Asti and Grilled Summer Peaches with Mascarpone Cream! Sounds delish, right?