Sunday, October 25, 2009
The Santa Barbara County Vintners take a break to Celebrate Harvest with great wine and local cuisine
The annual Celebration of Harvest is held in October each year, when the vineyards and wineries are in the middle of harvest . They take a very needed break to showcase their latest wines. This year's Celebration of Harvest was held on the beautiful grounds of Rancho Sisquoc Winery in the Santa Maria Valley.
In Santa Barbara County, the east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique landscape allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world class wines.
Within Santa Barbara County there are three distinct appellations: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. In addition, the Los Alamos Valley region, between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations.
There are over 21,000 acres of vineyards planted in Santa Barbara County, many of those smaller, family owned properties. This all contributes to the diversity and quality that makes this wine growing region so unique. The old adage that “the wine is made in the vineyard” holds true, with vineyards being farmed by owners and vineyard managers and carefully assessed by a community of talented winemakers.
We have visited the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival held in April of each year. The Celebration of Harvest festival is held annually in October during the middle of harvest. As well as these great festivals themselves , these festival weekends are filled with open houses, winemaker dinners, special tastings and other very unique events.
This years theme for the celebration of harvest was " Grape to Glass". This wonderful event was held on the breath taking grounds of Rancho Sisquoc with views of the Santa Maria valley. This was not just a "wine tasting " event. There were opportunities to take home Pinot Noir cuttings with complete instructions on how to take care of this very special varietal . Guests could taste the juice of newly crushed grapes and see a mobile bottling line hard at work.
As local wine legend Bob Senn used to say “Wine is food to be consumed with food”, and it would be hard to find either a restaurateur or vintner in Santa Barbara Wine Country who would disagree. Even though the harvest is foremost in growers and winemaker’s minds, tomatoes, tomatillos, melons, apples, walnuts and a cornucopia of other local foods are also being harvested at the same time.This is why the annual “Celebration of Harvest Festival” sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association also features bites and tastes from the area’s finest restaurants, caterers and specialty food purveyors as well.
“Wine and Food go together like yin and yang, salt and pepper, night and day”, enthuses Jim Fiolek, Executive Director of the Vintners’ Association. “Wineries and Restaurants are the same; one would not be successful without the other, and besides we all really enjoy each others company and products. We are thrilled to have over two dozen of our culinary colleagues joining us this year at our annual Celebration of Harvest festival. We can’t wait to see what delicious and inventive tastes they create!”
Guests were able to taste treats from Adrienne’s Gourmet Foods, Babé Farms, Bacara Resort, The Ballard Inn, Brother’s Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern, Chef Rick’s, Decadence Desserts, Enterprise Fish Company, Far Western Tavern, Fresh and Easy of Santa Maria, Full of Life Flatbread, the Garden Room Restaurant, Global Gardens, Trattoria Grappolo, Here’s the Scoop!, Hitching Post II, Jessica Foster Confections, the Lompoc Kiwanis, Los Olivos Café, Mirabelle Inn Restaurant, New West Catering, the Olive House, Panera Bread of Santa Maria, Pearl Catering, Root 246, Santa Barbara Biscotti, Santa Barbara Jacek’s, the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company, the Staring Gate Restaurant, Trader Joes of Santa Maria, Trattoria Uliveto and The Willows Restaurant. Coffees were provided by Blue Sky Coffee and Rhythms Coffee & Smoothies.
The wineries joined together with local chefs who specialize in wine country cuisine, specialty food Curveyors and local bands Lady Blue and House Red band provided the guests for a beautiful afternoon of great wines, superb foods and lively music .
For those who have been in wine country anywhere in the world during harvest they know how important and stress full this time of the year is. What the vineyard owners and winemakers do this time of year could make or break their entire vintage.
We have had the pleasure of traveling in Santa Barbara wine country for many years and have come to appreciate several aspects of this very unique wine growing area. In this area, you still deal with " farmer" vineyard owners , many of whom rise at 3AM to harvest their own grapes day after day until harvest is completed. They have true passion for what they do and you can taste this passion with every sip of a Santa Barbara County wine.
We plane to attend the Festival in the Spring. For more information on tickets, maps, and alot of great information please feel free to visit http://www.sbcountywines.com. Until then join Elaine and Scott Harris from Vino Las Vegas as we take you to the Celebration of Harvest and speak with winemaker Kathy Joseph from Fiddle Head cellars about the event and the challenges of the 2009 Harvest.