One of my favorite things about writing a wine column in the SB Sentinel is having an excuse to meet with different people in the Santa Barbara wine industry. More often than not, I’m meeting people who are truly paving their own way, doing what they love on their own terms, and it’s pretty cool! Recently, I met with winemaker Mike Roth, one half of the small Santa Barbara County wine label, Lo-Fi, which he established in 2013 with longtime friend Craig Winchester. Lo-Fi is a partnership between two friends who believe that wine should be enjoyed with food, on any given day, without having to spend a fortune. Kudos to that!
When Nick and I decided on Belize for our honeymoon, I was just as excited to try the local drinks as I was seeing if I could find good places to drink decent wine. Although Belize is more synonymous with rum than with fine wine, I had to find out… is there even wine in Belize? What else should one drink when in Belize?
Food and wine go hand-in-hand, but when you get to experience them together in one big celebratory weekend, you know it’s going to be an especially good time! This year marked my third time attending Pebble Beach Food & Wine, which celebrated its 9th birthday, and every year I leave with a full belly, new friends and a huge smile on my face.
There’s a lot of great wine out there, but one of my favorite things about wine writing is going behind the scenes to meet the people making the wine and/or hear the stories behind the wine. Recently, I got to do just that for the Spring issue of SB Seasons Magazine (out now), where I got share the wonderful story behind Grassini Family Vineyards‘ red wine known as ‘Equipo.’
After spending 3 days without a real shower during our sailing trip in Belize, Nick and I were eager to check into our hotel in Placencia. Besides, after all of the jungle adventuring, camping and snorkeling, we were due for more of a ‘honeymoon vibe’ to round out the trip. It was time for some quality rest and relaxation together at a beautiful, seaside hotel.
Belize has a lot to do on the mainland, but island hopping should definitely not be missed. There are more than 200 islands, or cayes, along the shoreline from north to south, many of which are uninhabited and secluded. The larger ones have airports, but the only way to visit some of the smaller cayes is by boat. When doing our research on Belize, Nick and I were excited to discover Raggamuffin Tours, which offers a three-day sailing trip departing from Caye Caulker (which we were already planning to visit) and ending in Placencia. Snorkeling, sailing, and camping all rolled into one epic adventure? Sold!
Pinot Noir drinkers rejoiced at the return of the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN), a two-day event held annually at Santa Barbara’s beautiful Bacara Resort. The 16th annual WOPN, now in its third year in SB, brought producers and sommeliers from all over the world together for a weekend of celebration and education through pinot-focused seminars, luncheons, grand tastings and exclusive winemaker dinners.
I have been a fan of Steve Matthiasson’s wine for a while… I remember first tasting his 2013 Matthiasson Rosé while having lunch at Zuzu in Napa, where I savored every sip of the wine and its bright grapefruit and minerally flavors. Made with a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Counoise, it’s the type of wine that’s versatile enough to drink on its own or to enjoy with food. I loved it!
Although not always the case, accommodations can sometimes make or break a vacation. We’ve all been there before… a place that looks so great in photos can be a complete let down in person. Luckily for us, Nick and I chose well for our honeymoon in Belize. In fact, the places we stayed were a huge highlight, such as the beautiful Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye!
Gruner Veltliner and Riesling, the two prominent white grapes of Austria, aren’t necessarily the first varietals that come to mind when thinking of Santa Barbara County wine. It’s true that Chardonnay dominates most white production around here, but that doesn’t stop Graham Tatomer from making high acid, mineral-driven, Austrian-inspired whites that are killing it in CA.