Tag archives: wine tasting

Crafting Red Wines and Sipping Santa Barbara’s Pinot Noir
By Jamie Knee   |   February 13, 2024

As winter sweeps into Santa Barbara, its crisp touch ignites an irresistible craving for soul warming meals, and the perfect wines to match. Embracing hearty pastas, savory stews, and dishes that stick to your ribs, this season demands the company of bold, full-bodied red wines. Many of us savor the richness of red wine, understanding […]

In the Name of Love: Experts Choose Seductive Wines for Valentine’s Day
By Gabe Saglie   |   February 13, 2024

I blurted out the word “seductive” to my wife recently, though I was actually describing a wine we were sharing. The 2014 Pas de Deux ($65 at kukkulawine.com) from the Kukkula winery in Paso Robles’s Adelaida District is a 50-50 blend of syrah and grenache, a combination I love. This bottling was extra special, though, […]

Santa Maria Valley: A Wine and Fun-Filled Weekend Escape for Santa Barbara Locals
By Jamie Knee   |   December 12, 2023

As a wine and travel writer, I’ve had the privilege of exploring some of California’s most charming wine regions. However, I recently stumbled upon a hidden gem a mere hour’s drive from Santa Barbara but a world away in terms of experiences: Santa Maria Valley.  With 34 tasting rooms, over 50 restaurants, and unique attractions […]

Across the Valley: Presqu’ile Winery Announces Strategic Expansion
By Gabe Saglie   |   November 14, 2023

Presqu’ile’s just-announced land purchase will give it a footprint across two of Santa Barbara County’s most revered wine-growing sites. The family-owned winery has already made a name for itself with the wines produced at its Santa Maria Valley location. Founded in 2007 by the Murphy family, the 123-acres estate just north of Highway 101 is […]

La Lieff Wines: A Community Gathering Spot for All
By Jamie Knee   |   November 7, 2023

Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara’s vibrant Funk Zone is La Lieff Wines, a place where wine meets community and everyone is welcomed with open arms. I had the pleasure of sitting down with my close friend Gretchen Lieff, the proprietor and owner of La Lieff Wines, to delve into her journey, the challenges […]

Summer of La Lieff
By Richard Mineards   |   September 19, 2023

Animal activist and winemaker Gretchen Lieff threw an end of summer bash at her La Lieff winery in the Funk Zone for 50 guests. “It has been a wonderful summer,” says Gretchen. “We hosted events for Planned Parenthood, the Wildlife Care Network, C.A.R.E.4Paws, the Adopt-a-Pet program, UCSB Arts & Lectures, and the Teddy Bear Cancer […]

Party in the Valley Culinary Fête Aims to Impress
By Gabe Saglie   |   September 19, 2023

Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley makes its grand return this month, though you could really say this will be the feast’s true premiere. The pandemic put on the brakes after the event’s first year. And while last year marked its official post-Covid return, all signs point to the 2023 rendering of this multi-day, multi-city, […]

Elevated Experiences: Fess Parker Ramps Up Wine-Inspired Offerings
By Gabe Saglie   |   August 22, 2023

The Parkers have been busy.  The multi-generational enterprise behind a slew of visitor options across the Santa Ynez Valley is repositioning itself as a local leader in the arenas of wine and hospitality. “People these days who are investing to come visit our area – they do have higher expectations today than they used to,” […]

Unveiling the Charms of Santa Barbara Wine Country
By Jamie Knee   |   July 25, 2023

Living in Santa Barbara wine country is a stroke of good fortune for wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. Crowned the wine region of the year in 2021 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this beautiful area offers a delightful blend of scenic landscapes, exceptional wines, and a thriving wine culture. Nestled along the Central Coast of California, […]

To the Wine Lover Go the Spoils: May Offers Myriad Events Inspired by the Grape
By Gabe Saglie   |   April 25, 2023

Santa Barbara’s wine industry is rolling out the red carpet. Mid-May is studded with a bevy of events aimed at maximizing the enjoyment of, and understanding of, locally-produced wines. Here’s a snapshot of some of the key events presented by both the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience’s “Taste of Santa Barbara,” making a triumphant return, as […]

History in a Bottle “Ranchos de Ontiveros” is Nine Generations in the Making
By Gabe Saglie   |   January 31, 2023

“The wine bottle – it’s the only time machine that works!”  Just one of the many colorful one-liners delivered by wine whiz Wes Hagen, as a small group of wine buffs gathers around the table inside the rustic The Maker’s Son eatery in downtown Los Alamos last month. An authority on all things Santa Barbara […]

Post-Interview Review
By Richard Mineards   |   January 17, 2023

On Sunday night, a group of my Montecito neighbors gathered with animal activist Gretchen Lieff at her La Lieff tasting room in the Funk Zone with a three-man crew from U.K.’s ITV, led by Washington, D.C. news editor Alex Chandler, to watch the Duke of Sussex’s controversial half-hour interview with Cooper and give our thoughts […]

The Many Flavors of James Sparks: Local Winemaker Behind Multiple Premium Labels
By Gabe Saglie   |   December 27, 2022

It was a very personal turn-of-life event that led James Sparks to the world of wine creation – and consumption. One of a dozen children raised in a small, rural Idaho town, he left the Mormon religion a little over 15 years ago. The road to a new way of life led to Santa Barbara […]

The Ultimate Paddle Party: Santa Barbara Vintners’ Charitable Gala Returns
By Gabe Saglie   |   November 8, 2022

Winemaker phenom Bryan Babcock is throwing open the doors to his Montecito estate. The exclusive invite includes a five-night stay for six people at what’s affectionally dubbed Villa Flora, a captivating property located just three minutes from Miramar Beach that features Mediterranean architecture and elegant gardens. Guests will also be treated to a Spanish-inspired dinner […]

Tried and True – and Brand New: Vintners Festival Returns, Spotlights Santa Barbara’s Wide Range
By Gabe Saglie   |   October 25, 2022

The Santa Barbara Vintners Festival made its post-pandemic return this month. It was a lovely Saturday in Solvang, with bright blue skies and temps in the low 80s, as dozens of regional winemakers took over the grounds of the historic Mission Santa Inés and popped hundreds of corks for a lively crowd. Guests were also […]

Symphonic Birthday Bash
By Richard Mineards   |   October 18, 2022

It was music of a very different kind when Kathryn Martin, President and CEO of the Santa Barbara Symphony, celebrated the tenth anniversary of her half century with an ABBA-solutely fabulous fête for 70 guests at the La Lieff tasting room in the Funk Zone. Featuring a cover band of the Swedish singers, Abba Dabba […]

La Lieff Tasting Room Opens
By Richard Mineards   |   August 30, 2022

Montecito animal activist Gretchen Lieff, who has been making wine for 17 years, has opened her first La Lieff tasting room in the Funk Zone. The 1,000-square-foot Gray Avenue locale, formerly a storage facility for the late Pierre Lafond, had a sneak preview for Tama Takahashi’s 10-year-old Inside Wine club with 37 guests to show […]

Wine is Food, Too: Julia Child-Inspired Culinary Fête a Must for Oenophiles
By Gabe Saglie   |   May 17, 2022

Santa Barbara’s big culinary takeover next week is actually two years in the making. Taste of Santa Barbara, presented by the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience in partnership with the Julia Child Foundation, was originally scheduled for May of 2020, and then the world shut down. Rescheduled to this month – May 16 to 22 – […]

Finally, Pinot: New Releases Take Tercero Wines in New Direction
By Gabe Saglie   |   May 3, 2022

“People do tell me – ‘Wait, I thought you said you’d never do pinot!’” jokes winemaker Larry Schaffer. We’re chatting inside his sleek Tercero tasting room in downtown Los Olivos. And he’s pouring me his latest release: pinot noir. Schaffer’s Tercero label has always been a bastion for imaginative, thoughtful Rhône wines. And his approach […]

Mission Accomplished: New Rusack Visitor Center Redefines the Wine Tasting Experience
By Gabe Saglie   |   March 1, 2022

I’ve discovered the perfect afternoon sipper – Rusack Vineyards just released its 2021 Boundless Mission ($28), a wine that is, quite literally, history in a bottle. The mission grape was brought over to the Americas in the 1700s by Spanish Catholic missionaries who didn’t want to go without table and sacramental wine along the way. […]