This is a great time of the year to go wine tasting in our beautiful back country--the hills are green, sometimes ablaze in gold, swathed with the state flower, the California Poppy, and coming into full bloom too! This is an unhurried time of year to visit the valley.
Travelling over Highway 154 is not bad I've found. There was so much media hype the week the road was closed, I think it scared off a lot of drivers into taking Highway 101. Highway 154 seems less travelled right now. And with the signal lights on the arch bridge, I have noted the waits have never been more than three minutes. The signs on the road which read "subject to 30 minute delays" have, to this point, been crying wolf!
Good News to report
Besides the fact we've got some of the world's hottest winemaking talent here in the county, and some of the coolest climate in coastal California--perfect for chardonnay, viognier, pinot noir and syrah--this county gets out, to a large degree, and promotes its wines to the rest of the country. No wonder so many of our wines are regarded as the finest produced in California and the world, with some vineyards commanding the highest grape tonnage prices in California!
- Veteran winemaker Rick Longoria is leaving Gainey to establish his own winery operation which will be located between Ballard and Solvang on Alamo Pintado Road, between Curtis Winery and Buttonwood Farm.
Rick did a brief stint as winemaker at Rancho Sisquoc until he got on as the winemaker at J. Carey Cellars in 1978. Rick started producing wine under his own name in 1982, and became the winemaker at Gainey in 1984. He will continue as Gainey's consultant. Congratulations, Rick!
- Seventeen wineries from Santa Barbara County did the Boston Wine Expo, and then did a Washington, D.C. media and trade tasting, earlier this month, according to the Association's executive director, Pam Maines Ostendorf.
Blast from the past, or is this "deja vu?"
Peggy Lindt, a graphic artist from Santa Barbara, has been commissioned by the Vintners' Association to design the 1997 Vintners' poster. Peggy has the distinction of winning this design competition two times. She designed the 1988 Vintners' poster too. Pam Ostendorf told me the new 1997 poster will be available in early March.
Bob Senn writes The Independent's monthly wine column, "Grapevine," and owns the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
- Tickets are still available for Sunday, April 20 for this year's Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association. The event will take place at Firestone Meadow. The price is $60 per person. For reservations or additional information, call the Association at 688-0881.
- Saturday, March 15, 7 p.m., Fess Parker Winery will offer a festive St. Patrick's Day Dinner at the winery--corn beef and cabbage and all the fixin's, Fess Parker wine and traditional Irish music with the Moody Druids. $55 all inclusive. For more information or reservations, call the winery at 688-1545.
- Saturday, March 15, 6 p.m., Rancho Sisquoc offers a St. Paddy's Day Jig at the winery. Cost: $30 per person includes food, wine and entertainment. Dancing begins at 8 p.m. Proceeds benefit Blochman School. For more information call the winery at 934-4332.
- Saturday, March 15, 7 p.m., the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium, tasting room for many prominent local wineries, is doing a special wine tasting of wines which cost $8 or less--"Much Ado About Nothing" in honor of The Ides of March. For more information, call 688-4409.
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