Santa Barbara seems to be an undiscovered gem of wine country. There were those that took notice when “Sideways” the movie came out back in 2004. Santa Barbara recently celebrated 10 years of “Sideways” in early September. While it is still a relatively young area with the first of the vineyards planted in the 70’s, this area has turned out some super star wineries and winemakers without losing it’s small town neighborliness.
Santa Barbara Vintners represents around 120 wineries in the Santa Barbara County Area and these wineries cover quite a bit of ground! With 5 AVA’s from the Santa Maria Valley AVA to the north and the Santa Ynez Valley AVA to the south which encompasses the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA and the new Ballard Canyon AVA. In addition the Wine Collection of El Paseo in Downtown Santa Barbara, the Lompoc Wine Ghetto in Lompoc and the Funk Zone near the beach in Santa Barbara, make where to start exploring a difficult question. Luckily the Santa Barbara Vintners hold 2 grand tastings each year, one in the spring and one at harvest, where all the wineries gather and you can see them all in one place.
The Celebration of Harvest held in October over Columbus Day Weekend, holds it’s Grand Tasting on Saturday October 11th. You can go and enjoy a day at the beautiful Old Mission Santa Ines with wine, food purveyors and live music. But this is more than just a fun day tasting wine. Many of the booths will have a winemaker pouring. You will get the feel of the winery and get to hear what is important to them. Remember I mentioned the superstar winemakers that this area has turned out? Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa, Rick Longoria of Longoria Wine, Doug Margerum of Margeum , Norm Yost of Flying Goat, Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead, and new winemakers Mikael Sigouin of Kaena, Michael Larner with Larner Vineyard & Winery…those are just a few of the well known names behind wines in this area that will pouring and chatting with people and telling them first hand, the stories behind their wines.
Santa Barbara County is a big place with lots of choices for where to go tasting. This is a great way to get your feet wet, find the wines and the people that intrigue you and then make plans to come back and visit their tasting rooms and get to know a little more about this very special place and it’s amazing people.
For more information on the Celebration of Harvest visit http://www.celebrationofharvest.com/festival.html It will give you details on the events at the Grand Tasting as well as other information on wineries events happening that weekend. You can also find a link there to buy tickets for the Grand Tasting.
See a video of The Highlights from their Spring Grand Tasting