Wine & Fire

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.

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