Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a special South African Wine ‘Master Class’ here in Santa Barbara along with several wine industry professionals from SB and LA. I love attending these types of seminars because they’re so informative, but it’s also a great chance to try really interesting wines I may otherwise not have the opportunity to. South Africa in Santa Barbara? Sign me up!
It’s true that Blaufränkisch is pretty hard to find outside of Europe. Most people have never heard of it, but it is one of the prominent grapes of Austria (also known as Lemberger) and can be found in other parts of Europe. Known for its unique characteristics, it’s sort of a combination of Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Syrah all in one. I admit that I didn’t know anyone was making Blaufränkisch in California, let alone Santa Barbara County, until meeting David and Anna deLaski. They’re the owners of Solminer Wines, and yes, they make a Blaufränkisch!
There’s a little slice of Tuscany in Paso Robles thanks to the newly opened Allegretto Vineyard Resort, located about a 5 minute drive from downtown Paso. Technically the first ‘resort’ in Paso Robles wine country, the Allegretto opened last fall and I was looking forward to experiencing it firsthand (and crossing my fingers it would transport me back to my time living in Italy!)
Although Nick and I have passed through Paso Robles several times, it was only recently that we first stayed the weekend there. When planning our trip, Halter Ranch Winery, in the Adelaida District of Paso, was a name that kept getting mentioned as a place to visit. Perfect timing, too, since their new tasting room opened up only a couple of months prior!
Rick and Aurora Grimm, the couple behind Grimm’s Bluff, moved their family from Monaco to Santa Barbara in 2007 and soon found themselves missing the European wines they had grown accustomed to. Without much knowledge of California wines, they began exploring the Central Coast to better acquaint themselves with the wines of this region. During their tasting adventures, they found that Paul Lato made some of their favorite Santa Barbara wines, similar in style to their beloved European wines. Little did they know that a few years later they’d have their own label, Grimm’s Bluff Winery, and would hire Paul Lato to be their winemaker!
One of the benefits of living in Southern California is having access to farmers’ market produce all year long, but I especially love when the spring bounty arrives. While perusing yesterday’s farmers’ market, I was immediately inspired to make a spring green frittata, because who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner every now and again? Plus, I had the perfect frittata wine pairing in mind: the 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
I love tasting wines from places that are slightly off the radar. Of course, they aren’t always a hit, but it’s still fun to try new stuff. Given that it is officially rosé season (although, must we limit rosé to just one season? Nah…), now is a great time to explore pink wines from around the world. Now, you’ve probably had rosé from Provence and the USA, but how about rosé from Corsica?
It’s true there’s no shortage of wine available to us Santa Barbarians. As many tasting rooms as there are around town, there are a decent number of wine bars in Santa Barbara, too. From those pouring regional wine (and beer) to Old World offerings, here’s my guide to a few of Santa Barbara’s best wine bars, starting from closest to the beach and moving up State Street:
I have to admit, I had built up the Turtle Inn, Belize, in my head well before we arrived to the property. My expectations were on the higher side not only because the pictures looked incredible, but also because it was the last night of our honeymoon and I was hoping it would be utterly romantic and relaxing. I’m happy to report that we were not disappointed!
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, especially those who are doing what they love on their own terms. Recently, I met with winemaker Mike Roth, one half of the small Santa Barbara County wine label, Lo-Fi Wines, which he established in 2013 with longtime friend Craig Winchester. Lo-Fi Wines 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!