Six years ago, Santa Barbara’s soaked social calendar welcomed a brand-new entry: the Tequila Harvest Festival, which explored Mexico’s agave-based liquors with an annual afternoon expo most often at Elings Park. This Saturday is the popular fest’s finale, according to attorney Ernesto Rodriguez, who started the event with his friend Albert Martinez under their business, Agave Avenue, which they are selling. But they’ll be going out in style with a first-ever evening format and a couple of additional sipping soirees, as well. Here, Rodriguez reflects on their liquid legacy and explains what to expect this weekend.
What has your fest done for Santa Barbara? We have definitely enhanced Santa Barbara’s tequila knowledge. Now it is common to see people sipping tequila instead of shooting it. Moreover, business owners in town have begun to carry only 100 percent blue agave tequila products and have stopped using mixtos. Most importantly, people now understand the culture and tradition behind making an authentic agave spirit.
Why do we need to know more about tequila? Tequila is the trending distilled spirit, with ever-growing complexity and taste profiles. The process of making tequila and mescal is an art in itself that takes various years to produce an expression. Through our festival, guests are exposed to this rich culture and tradition, with the makers and/or owners present to provide a unique experience. As a result, guests are able to make informed decisions about their spirit selection next time they visit their favorite bar or liquor store.
What’s special about this year’s event? Since this is the last festival, we wanted to give it our all, so we kick off with a complimentary Tequila and Mezcal Tasting at The Good Lion Cocktail Bar on Wednesday, August 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. On Friday, August 28, we are hosting a three-course dinner at La Hacienda Restaurant in Old Town Goleta, where just 40 guests will sample award-winning tequila and mescal while dining. Tequila pairs great with food, and we have organized small pairing dinners at different restaurants over the years that guests have greatly enjoyed. We finish off with the Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest Festival on Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m. We will be featuring live mariachi music, a charro performance, an all-glass show, new participating restaurants, and more to sample than ever before!
The sixth annual and final Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest Festival is Saturday, August 29, 6-9 p.m. at Elings Park. Tickets range from $50 for groups to $115 for VIP, and designated drivers get in for $25. See agaveavenue.com.