The April Vintners Festival, for thirty years Santa Barbara County’s favorite way to taste wines and meet winemakers, has for 2014 expanded into the four-day Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, April 10-13, and includes vineyard hikes, barrel toasting seminar, winemaker dinners, golf tournament, winery open houses, and much more.
The Santa Barbara Vintners has joined forces with Solvang-based Relevé Unlimited and upped the ante and offerings for 2014. New this year are ten “Signature Events” focusing on education, wine, food, and Santa Barbara County’s world-class vineyards, bucolic towns, and the gorgeous city of Santa Barbara. Additionally, more than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms are hosting individual events.
On Saturday, April 12, is the weekend’s crown jewel, the annual Vintners Festival Grand Tasting, held this year from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Buellton’s beautiful River View Park. The more than 100 winery members of the Santa Barbara Vintners will pour their newest releases, and the county’s top-rated restaurants and caterers will offer bites and small plates of culinary goodness. This year attendees will be able to purchase wine by the bottle or case and view the new Art Walk exhibit.
The Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend opens at noon, Thursday, with a shotgun-start golf tournament at Goleta’s Sandpiper Golf Course, overlooking the ocean. Join host Rex Pickett, “Sideways” author and playwright, and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the film that showcased Santa Barbara County with a “Sideways” trivia contest. Enjoy food from some of Santa Barbara’s food trucks and sip Foxen Vineyard & Winery and William James Cellars wines from stations right on the course.
After golf, drive up the coast along Route 101 to enjoy the Sta. Rita Hills AVA dinner and wine pairing at Buellton’s new hot restaurant, Industrial Eats, at 6:30 p.m.. The evening opens with a sparkling wine reception hosted by Clos Pepe Vineyards, followed by a delicious meal paired with wines produced in the AVA. Presenters include Clos Pepe’s Wes Hagen and Steve Pepe, Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Winery, and Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines, as well as wines from Dierberg Estate Vineyards.
Friday’s events begin at 9:00 a.m. with a day-long Wine Education Seminar Program at Hotel Corque in Solvang, featuring four seminar sessions, a gourmet lunch, and culinary/wine tasting stations. Topics of the seminars include: an overview of Santa Barbara County sparkling wine; a comparison of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs); a vertical seminar tasting; and an exploration of the wines from Bien Nacido. For more details on each seminar, visit www.sbvintnersweekend.com
Each seminar will include a handful of winemakers, who will share their experiences about the respective topics. Clos Pepe winemaker Wes Hagen will be the seminar series moderator. In addition to his role at Clos Pepe, Hagen has lectured at Cornell University, and researched and written the three most recently approved AVAs in Santa Barbara County — Sta. Rita Hills, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara and Ballard Canyon. He teaches a series of food and wine pairing classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria.
Friday afternoon includes Vineyard Hikes at five distinct vineyards in Santa Barbara County: Purisima Mountain, Baehner Fournier, Hilliard Bruce, Buttonwood, and Refugio Ranch.
Friday evening features a Barrel Toasting Seminar and barrel tasting hosted in Buellton by a group of wineries, and, in Santa Barbara at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort Hotel, the 90+ Points Top Rated Wine & Dine event, featuring winemakers whose wines have earned 90 points and more from various critics. Additionally, Brewer-Clifton, Brander Vineyard, and Flying Goat Cellars have events planned including a cheese pairing seminar, a seminar on Cabernet Sauvignon led by a Master of Wine, and a winemaker dinner at La Purisima Mission.
Saturday evening debuts the Vineyards Dinner Event featuring Sea Smoke, Grassini, Magerum, Dierberg, Kaena, Fiddlehead, and Andrew Murray at Grassini Family Vineyards in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. The four-course menu will be prepared by Village Modern Foods of Santa Barbara, and served under lakeside under oak trees, right in the vineyard. Melville, Lucas & Lewellen, Foxen, and Longoria are also hosting Saturday evening wine dinners at special locations.
The final Signature Event of the Vintners Weekend is the Farm-to-Table Picnic and Concert at 11:00 a.m. Sunday and features Jamestown Revival at Fess Parker Winery on Foxen Canyon Road. Jamestown Revival has appeared on “Conan O’Brien,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and the KCRW radio show “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” The duo blends Americana/Folk, Texas twang and back porch indie rock.
Sunday is also the traditional day of the Spring Weekend when many wineries host open houses and special events. This year includes an impressive list of participants including: Melville Winery, Pence Ranch, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, Au Bon Climate, Qupe, Brewer-Clifton, Flying Goat Cellars, Longoria Wines, and Kalyra Winery.
For more information about all the events throughout the weekend, as well as details on advance purchase tickets, visit www.sbcvintnerweekend.com or call 805-688-0881. You can get daily weekend updates on social media using #sbvintnersfest.