Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Celebration
by Sao Anash
The Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance of Santa Barbara County will be holding its inaugural Wine & Fire event Friday, June 9 – Sunday, June 11, throughout the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The Wine & Fire weekend begins Friday evening with a relaxed celebration of Santa Rita Hills pinot noirs and chardonnays, paired with artisanal wood-fired pizzas from the American Flatbread Company of Los Alamos. More than two dozen winemakers will be on hand to present their Santa Rita Hills pinot noir and chardonnay wines. The Friday night kickoff will be held on the grounds of the mysterious and historically significant La Purísima Mission in Lompoc. A film featuring commentary by local winemakers will also be screened. “The spirit of the weekend is meant to celebrate the merits of the Santa Rita Hills; this includes the wines and vineyards but also the people and the place,” said Mike Kohne, director of marketing for Foley Estates Winery and Vineyard.
On Saturday morning, a rare “seminar in the round” will be held at Rancho La Viña on Santa Rosa Road. This unusual tasting will feature four rotations of six-person winemaker panels. Three panels are devoted to various manifestations of pinot noir from Santa Rita Hills, while the remaining panel will be entirely dedicated to chardonnay. Guests will remain seated as winemakers rotate from one table to another, creating a more intimate setting than is normally found at wine-tasting symposiums. “Saturday provides a unique and fun perspective through which to view these marvelous wines,” said Peter Work of Ampelos Cellars. “Santa Rita Hills winemakers will visit with patrons and pour wines for them in both a structured setting as well as during the fire-inspired, relaxing lunch.”
Following these impassioned tastings, event guests will enjoy a ranchero-style gourmet lunch created by chef Jeff Olssen of New West Catering. Guests will also be invited to speak informally to any number of Santa Rita Hills producers, while relaxing under several aged coastal oaks. Guests will be able to meet and mingle with winegrowers from such Santa Rita Hills wineries as Hitching Post, Ken Brown, Huber, Ampelos, Melville, Demetria Estate, Seasmoke, Alma Rosa, A.P. Vin, Foley, Rusack, Gainey, Gypsy Canyon, and Arcadian, just to mention a few. “Share in the passion and take this amazing opportunity to taste many of America’s most critically regarded and highly allocated wines,” added Work.
The Saturday afternoon symposium and lunch will end at approximately 3 p.m. On Sunday, numerous Santa Rita Hills wineries will host open houses, one-time-only tastings, and wine sales at their individual locations.
To learn more about Wine & Fire and the various open houses, visit staritahills.com. Tickets are $325 per person and include access to the Friday night dinner, as well as the Saturday wine seminars and winemaker lunch. (Contact the individual producers regarding their open houses and/or winemaker dinners.) Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.