Kathy Marcks Hardesty: Vintners Festivals and winemakers events
I am so happy to report the good news that our great Central Coast wineries are reopening quite successfully. Not only that, the vintners are celebrating with excellent entertainment in their tasting rooms.
As a result, I would advise you not to wait too long to make reservations at your favorites as they will fill rapidly. And with limited seating still advised, being busy is not limited to weekends. Even weekdays surprise me with the number of people so relieved to get outside wine tasting again.
For an opportunity to make reservations easily, I recommend visiting www. Sbcountywines.com, then click on events. There are amazing choices on there from sipping wine on the sea, to winemakers’ dinners, and a Rhone wine tasting with Kenneth Brown and Brander wineries slated for spring of 2022.
At Fiddlehead Cellars in the famed Lompoc Wine Ghetto, vintner and winemaker Kathy Joseph has already begun featuring live music on the tasting patio, every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. That’s a wonderful way to enjoy your wine tasting experience.
The musicians she’s featuring on May 9 will be Jacob Cole, and on May 23 Loren Radis, both local musicians. Joseph is following current COVID guidelines so space will be limited, yet you’re outdoors and that’s ideal.
I have long been a fan of Joseph’s pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs, and she has a new variety on board, gruner veltliner, well worth checking out. You can buy tickets in advance at fiddleheadcellars.com, or call 805-735-7728, even for last minute reservations. They are only open Friday through Sunday, and the hours vary, so don’t hesitate to call them.
Another notable event is the annual “Evening at Ember with Tolosa, on Tuesday, May 25 from 6 until 9 p.m. It’s a bit pricey, not unexpectedly, but it’s an extravagant affair.
I attended the first dinner there several years ago, and was totally impressed. An array of fine wine tastings, gourmet dishes, all generous in portions, and great fun with the winemakers in attendance. It will definitely fall into the unforgettable times of your life.
Although it’s designed for wine club members of Tolosa at $165 per person, it’s only $175 per person for non-members, if there’s still room. You can make reservations by contacting event manager Holly Holliday at email@example.com (please do not call the restaurant for reservations).
Tolosa does remind you, the date for this experience may change due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. They ask that you follow the event calendar as they update information and changes as they occur.
Good news and bad news about the 2021 Vintners Festival. For those of us who love wine, our great Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival was an event we looked forward to year after year. In fact, I traveled here from San Francisco in the early 1990s, just because of this great wine fest!
I still find it unimaginable skipping everything last year, when the “stay at home” order became the new rule. Let’s pray the pandemic is closer to over.
In early spring this year, I learned the annual spring wine fest wouldn’t happen, but we could expect them to reopen the fall festival. Well, the good news is that if you purchased tickets to the spring fest, you can still use them on May 7, 2022, when the Vintners Festival will reopen to the public. Cheers to that!
Who could help missing it? There were hundreds of great wines to taste, but you couldn’t taste them all. That’s why I recommend always visiting your favorites, and leaving room to try newcomers to our local wine scene.
And the foods were great, no carnival junk here. We joined long lines to dine on chef Frank Ostini’s Hitching Post II delectable barbecue, chef Budi Kazali’s Gathering Table for awesome gourmet treats, flatbreads from chef Clark Staub in Los Alamos, and many other tasty treats from Santa Barbara County all available with your ticket purchase. I’ve been to many wine fests in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, but few are as generous as our Central Coast events that include the best local foods.
The good news is that we still may see the Celebration of Harvest event reopen this fall. Also, if you prepaid for your tickets for the 2021 Vintners Festival, they’re still valid for getting into the spring event next year. According to a press release from the Santa Barbara Vintners:
“We will welcome you all back to the celebrated Vintners Festival with glasses of wine on May 7, 2022. Your tickets will automatically roll over in 2022. If you are unable to join then, you may donate the value of your tickets to the Vintners Association, and we thank you kindly if you choose to do so. Or you can request a refund by contacting the ticket agency directly by emailing them at support @nightout .com.”
Let’s keep our hopes high for fall 2021, and the return of the Celebration of Harvest!
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