Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest Weekend

Firestone Vineyard Koehler Vineyard Curtis Vineyard

Santa Barbara is one of our favorite wine regions. Typically we find our way that direction in April for the Vintners Spring Weekend, with it’s Seminars, special events and of course the Grand Tasting.  This year, we thought we would mix it up a bit and we will be attending the Celebration of Harvest.  Fall rather than spring, post harvest rather than bud break…it gives a different visual of the area.

We just did a Flash tour through a large portion of California Wine country and our starting and ending point was Santa Barbara County.  You simply can’t beat the diversity.  With the East/West Valley and the temperature increasing a degree per mile as you drive from the cooler Sta. Rita Hills (think Burgundy) through the Santa Ynez Valley past Ballard Canyon (think the Rhone) and on into Happy Canyon (yep think Bordeaux), (not to mention the micro climates you find in Los Alamos Valley or the amazing Vandenburg fog that influences the grapes in Santa Maria and Foxen Canyon), you get a wide range of varieties that grow well here, so when it comes to the Santa Barbara Vintners events, there is something for everyone.  We have done a highlight reel of our favorite stops in this amazing area.  Of course that list is growing, but check out So you are heading to Santa Barbara and want to know where to taste wine.

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This years Celebration of Harvest, kicks off with their signature event “Taste of Santa Barbara Wine Country“.  This event will be held at the Fess Parker Resort, right across from the beach in Santa Barbara.  50 wineries will be on hand to pour their fall releases and word has it that many will have library wines available for tasting also.  And of course their will be great food from some of the best restaurants and vendors in wine country.

Many of the greats will be there, Alma Rosa, Au Bon Climat, Qupe and some of our favorites, Beckmen, Casa Dumetz, Clos Pepe, Jamie Slone, Presqu’ile, Riverbench, Zaca Mesa. And don’t miss stopping by The Central Coast Group Project if you want to try something new.  Scott Sampler of CCGP has been working with extended mascerations and is producing some very interesting wines.

In addition they will have Harvest Experience Passports available.  The passport allows you to visit up to 12 of the participating tasting rooms over the weekend, many of which will have special experiences and tastings just for passport members.

They also have a series of Collaborative Dinners in various locations, where a restaurant or chef are paired up with several wineries for a unique dining experience.  There are 4 of these set up in various locations around the area from a Surf and Turf dinner Angel Oak at Bacara out on the shore with Fiddlehead, Zotovich, Martian, Longoria and Jaffurs wines, to a Cowboy BBQ in Los Alamos with Municipal Winemakers, Casa Dumetz, Lumen, Frequency and Bedford.  Further in there is a Farm to Fork, Vine to Glass dinner at the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe with Bernat, J. Wilkes, and Refugio Ranch and then and East Meets West at the magical Ballard Inn Gathering Table with Chef Budi Kazali creating amazing dishes to pair with wines from Melville, Andrew Murray, Beckmen and Star Lane Vineyards.

Celebration of Harvest Weekend is a great opportunity to taste a variety of the amazing wines from this area and get to meet some of the winemakers.  There is so much to this amazing area you could spend weeks here and not see it all (trust me, we’ve tried).  So take the weekend and learn about this amazing wine region that is practically in LA’s backyard.  There are beautiful wines being made here and there is something for everyone.

You can find out more on the Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest site, where you can see the entire schedule for the weekend, buy tickets for the events and purchase your passport for the weekend.

And be sure to stop back here!  We look forward to sharing with you all of our adventures during the Celebration of Harvest.

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9 Great places to eat in Santa Barbara County

Where to eat in SBC Wine Country

The City of Santa Barbara is filled with great places to eat that are easy to find. When you get out into Wine Country, finding those places can be a little more difficult. We find that word of mouth is the best way to find great places to eat, so here are a few spots we’ve found through great recommendations. From fine dining to fast casual there are plenty of great options for dining over the 2015 Vintners Spring Weekend.

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Full of Life Flatbread 

in Los Alamos

On the weekends this place is hopping!  There are often Winemaker dinners held here, and it is a gathering spot for winemakers from the area.  If it’s busy, order a flatbread to go!  We ordered a 50/50 split flatbread and enjoyed it with a bottle of local wine and an amazing view of the Los Alamos Valley.
225 Bell St, Los Alamos, CA 93440

Thursday: 4:30 to 9 pm
Friday and Saturday: 4:30 to 10 pm
Sunday Supper: 4 to 8 pm

(805) 344-4400

Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos

If you are looking for elegant fine dining, Mattei’s Tavern is the place.  The Tavern was built in 1886 as a Stage Coach Stop, it became a hotel in 1887 when the railroad came through.  Today it is owned by Charles Banks & Chef Robbie Wilson.  The food is modern and upscale with local ingredients.  Their beautiful wine list changes often and is all served in Zalto glasses which makes the wine taste even better.
2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos, CA 93441
Dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday 5:00 to 10:00 and Sunday 5:00-9:00
(805) 688-3550

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe in Los Olivos

The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe is the perfect spot to stop for a little lunch or dinner when you are tasting in Los Olivos.  You are likely to see a gaggle of winemakers here, enjoying lunch with family. The last Friday of each month they have a guest winemaker in the house, walking around talking to guest and pouring their wine.  This place is elegant without being stuffy and their selection of local wines is spectacular.
2879 Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441

Open for lunch and dinner from 11:30-8:30 Monday – Friday

Saturday & Sunday, open for breakfast from 8:00 – 10:30 a.m., 11:30 – 8:30 p.m. for lunch & dinner.

805.688.7265

Sides Hardware & Shoes in Los Olivos

Sides Hardware & Shoes is a Brothers Restaurant in Los Olivos.  The Nichols Brothers have been a fixture in this area since 1996.  They began with Brother Restaurant in Solvang then moved to Matteis Tavern in 2002 where they were until opening Sides Hardware & Shoes in 2012.  The food is from scratch, fresh and innovative.  A down-home feel with an elevated menu.  The name is from the buildings previous tenants and has a front porch and back patio for dining.  But it’s small so plan ahead and set a reservation,

2375 Alamo Pintado Avenue, Los Olivos, California, 93441

Open daily for lunch (11.30am – 2.30pm) and dinner (5 – 8.30pm, 9pm Fridays & Saturdays)

805.688.4820

Industrial Eats in Buellton

Jeff & Janet Olsson have been in this community for awhile catering events with their company New West Catering.  People in the Wine Industry here were very familiar with them for their fabulous food at special events.  Finally, they opened Industrial Eats and gave folks a place they could find them all the time.  The restaurant is small and fast/casual.  Order at the counter and find a seat, maybe at the big community table.  You will smell things cooking in the wood fired ovens which is their only method of cooking here.  The menu changes daily, depending on what the local farmers and vendors have available and is written on large rolls of butcher paper that hang on the wall behind the counter.  You can sign up for butchering classes or just pick up some of the amazing smoked and cured meats they sell at the deli counter.  And if you want to add photos to your Facebook feed that will make you drool, like their Facebook page where they post tantalizing photos of the incredible food they are serving during the day.

2879 Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441

Open daily 10 am to 9 pm

(805) 688-8807

Chomp in Solvang

Sometimes you just need something basic to eat.  A non fussy stick to your ribs kinda dinner.  Chomp is the place to go.  Located in downtown Solvang this place serves all American Cuisine; burgers, hot dogs, fish & chips, fries, onion rigs and some amazing shakes and malts.  The large wait staff of high school age kids, bustle about moving food quickly and efficiently with a team spirit.  The ice cream shakes are amazing and they have local beers and wines available.

1693 Mission Drive , Solvang, CA 93463

Open Mon – Thu, 11:30 – 8:30pm & Fri – Sun, 11:30am – 9pm

(805) 688-7733

Ballard Inn and Restaurant

We were lucky enough to attend the 1st annual Larner Vineyards Winemaker’s dinner here last year.  Chef Budi Kazali creates meals that are special, and memorable.  His style is Asian/French fusion is elevated by the amazing fresh ingredients that come from local farmers.  Pair this with an amazing local wine list and you have more than dinner, you have a great memory.  This small restaurant has only 12 tables, so be sure to make a reservation.

2436 Baseline Ave., Ballard, CA 93463

(800) 638-2466

Open Wednesday thru Sunday from 5:30 to 9:00

Terravant Winery Restaurant in Bueltton

Until recently known as Avant Wine and Tapas, the newly rebranded Terravant Winery Restaurant is one of our favorite stops.  The restaurant is on Industrial Way in Buellton and is attached to Terravante Wine Company which is a custom crush facility for local winemakers.  The restaurant serves amazing tapas and has 52 wines on tap on their Wine Wall, most of which are local. The food also is local, most of it coming from within a 30 mile radius of the restaurant.

35 Industrial Way, Buellton, CA 93427

11AM-9PM —Wine Tasting 7 days a week

Lunch: 11AM-3PM • Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 3PM-5PM • Dinner: 5PM – 9PM

Live Music: Thur, Fri, & Sat from 6PM-close

805.686.4742

Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez

The Grand Tasting is wonderful for tasting wines, and it’s also great for finding new restaurants.  Last Spring Michael tasted a bite from their booth at the Grand Tasting and knew where we were going for dinner.  Located in the city of Santa Ynez, this restaurant was busy when we arrived and we managed to get a seat at the bar.  I must admit to falling into a perfect spot, as we watched the pizzas go into the wood fired oven and were treated to a full show of culinary choreography as the staff seamlessly worked in the small space, making pizzas and pastas.  This kitchen works like a well oiled machine and it is a joy to watch.  And the food…well it’s pretty good too.

3687 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Lunch: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:30-3:00   
Dinner: Monday – Sunday, 5:00-10:00

805.688.6899

Again this is just a sampling, there are many more wonderful restaurants that I look forward to visiting.

And if you are headed to the Grand Tasting on Saturday April 25th at River View Park in Buellton, you will find many restaurants there with tastings to try!

For More information on the Santa Barbara Vintners  visit them at http://www.sbcountywines.com.