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Two Restaurant Weeks with wineries and breweries

The phonograph and back wall at the Core Tasting Room in Old Orcutt, where the old vinyl records bring back memories. Ask vintner Becky Corey for your favorite music genre and she will likely have it to play for you.

This was a pleasant surprise to kick off the new year: the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Restaurant Week celebrations. Santa Maria's begins today, Sunday, Jan. 14, through Saturday and Santa Ynez Valley's is Jan. 21 through 29.

Instead of great deals provided strictly by restaurants, this year they’ve included special tastings at local wineries and breweries. The events coincide with California Restaurant Month, which promotes food and wine establishments, according to the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“Participating establishments will offer specials for $20.18 (per person in most cases). This could include a bottle of wine, a wine and food pairing flight, entree, appetizer or other items presented by the establishment.”

The participants include: The Century Room at the historic Santa Maria Inn, Cielito Lindo Mexican Grill, CNagy Wine Tasting Room, Core Wine Tasting Room, Far Western Tavern, Grevino Cafe & Wine Bar, Jersey Mike's, Maya Restaurant, Moxie Cafe, Straw Hat Pizza and Vintners Bar & Grill at the Radisson Hotel.

If you don’t already know, most of these restaurants have excellent local wine lists that are quite reasonably priced. For information, visit

Here is one winery’s great wine and food pairing during Restaurant Week.

Core Wine Co. in Old Orcutt, which is open daily, is offering some very tasty enticements. They are pairing four of their fine wines with four different flavors of biscotti, which is ideal as biscotti aren’t so sweet they overtake the aromas and layered flavors of the wines.

The tasting will start with the B. Core white blend with lemon zest-almond biscotti, Elevation Sensation with lavender-herbs de Provence biscotti, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve with mountain-gorgonzola-walnut biscotti and a sweet finish with their Candy Core dessert red wine with cherry-chocolate biscotti. The price is only $20.18.

Learn more about this very special tasting room that’s family-owned and operated by Dave (Mister Moreved, the winemaker) and Becky Corey, both of whom have a long histories in the Santa Maria Valley wine industry.

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The Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week begins Jan. 21 through Jan. 27. It’s the same great deal of $20.18 for a three- course meal at some excellent restaurants, and there are more good choices in wine tasting rooms and breweries.

This list is so much bigger that I can’t get all of them into this column, but I’ll provide the webpage address. So, I’ll focus on the wine and brew tasting rooms in each town:

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In Old Orcutt, Nagy Wines; in Buellton, Alma Rosa, Bottlest Wine Bar, Helix Wines, Loring Wine Co., Pence Ranch Winery, and Standing Sun Wines; in Solvang, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Solvang Brewing Co., and Wandering Dog Wine Bar; in Santa Ynez, Brander Vineyard and Kalyra Winery.

At Alma Rosa, owned and operated by Santa Rita Hills pioneer Richard Sanford, $20.18 will provide you with a library tasting of four extraordinary pinot noirs from his El Jabali Vineyard paired with cheese and confections. Another pioneer, Fred Brander of Brander Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, will offer five pairings of white and red wines with local and international artisan cheeses. One of my favorite breweries, Firestone Walker Brewing, will offer a hearty three-course meal for only $20.18, including cheddar jalapeno tots, pork chile verde mac-n-cheese and a decadent ice cream sundae with high gravity caramel and chocolate sauce. The array of fine brews to choose from means there’s something to please every taste. They do limit the hours for Restaurant Week, it’s only offered from 4 to 9 p.m. daily.

Learn more about all of the participating businesses, and most of them provide a link to their menu so you know in advance exactly what your choices will be. I always read through all of the menus to better decide what appeals to me most. And like most of my readers, I always support my favorites because I know I’m going to like pretty much everything they produce. You can see all of it on their webpage at

Note: The $20.18 price for participating restaurants, wineries and breweries does not include tax or tip; please tip generously. This is a great annual service for locals, especially since it’s not happening during tourist season when these small businesses are always busy. Indulge in great foods, wines and brews. I never miss the opportunity to partake at my favorites and to find some new faves, as should you.

Bon appetit!

Kathy Marcks Hardesty can be reached at