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I admire the fact that International Women’s Day, which celebrates successful businesswomen around the world, has resulted in an annual event that honors our popular women winemakers who make outstanding Santa Barbara County wines.

According to the Women Winemakers Dinner media relations group, “International Women’s Day has been celebrated worldwide since 1909, with a focus on working women’s achievements and issues. In a working environment that sees about 10 percent of the global wine industry as female winemakers, Santa Barbara County boasts a much higher percentage of women winemakers than most places in the world, with nearly double the average.”

After relocating to the Central Coast in early February 1996, I realized there was less than a half dozen women making wine professionally in San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties, except perhaps some home winemakers who were relatively unknown. Leap to current times, and there are more than 20 professional women winemakers in Santa Barbara County alone!

The Women Winemakers Dinner, a wine and food charity affair, will take place March 8 at K’Syrah Catering and Events, 478 4th Place, in Solvang. The event is supported by local women winemakers in Santa Barbara County who will join together to provide you, their guests and supporters, an unforgettable wine and food experience.

But this no ordinary party. Some proceeds benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County. By joining forces rather than contributing individually, the Women Winemakers’ group combined donations and service time to provide larger grants, which has a much greater impact on important causes for organizations serving women and children. In 2016, the Women’s Fund received $50,000 in grants.

The Women Winemakers Dinner event in Solvang honors our local women winemakers, as well as local women chefs. Last year, the inaugural event was so successful it sold out in a few weeks. This year, many other women artists making fine wines have jumped on board to support the rise of women entrepreneurs in the wine industry.

Many of these small artisan wine brands are new in the region, and the dinner party will provide a wonderful opportunity to meet the women behind the brand, while tasting their wines. You’re sure to find some new favorites here. Because of the increased interest by women winemakers, the event organizers were able to increase the size of the venue to accommodate more guests and to provide different levels of options for participation and support.

“The March 8, 2018 event will bring together a good portion of the county’s female winemakers in a show of support for each other, and other working women worldwide; those who toil and labor while honing and elevating their craft in their workplace, while also balancing work lives with family and community service,” according to a statement about the event.

More than 20 female winemakers will join together, but the meal will be prepared by some of the Santa Ynez Valley’s leading female chefs collaborating on a four-course, sit-down dinner to pair who some of their winemaker colleagues’ wines.

In addition to the seated dinner portion of the evening, this year’s event will feature a tent on a closed-to-traffic street in front of K’Syrah’s downtown Solvang venue. Inside the tent, the winemakers will pour tastes of their wines and talk with guests during a predinner reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It will include passed appetizers and a cheese table by local female cheesemonger Janelle McAtamney, of Solvang’s Cailloux Cheese Shop. The dinner follows.

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The culinary team creating the multicourse dinner with wine includes executive chef Brooke Stockwell, from K’Syrah Catering and Events, who will be joined in the kitchen by baker Amy Dixon, of The Baker’s Table in Santa Ynez; Theo Stephan, owner of Los Olivos’ Global Gardens; chef Cynthia Miranda, from The Lucky Hen Larder in Santa Ynez; wine country chef Robin Goldstein; and additional Santa Ynez Valley chefs and food crafters, whose names will be announced as the event nears.

Participating winemakers and wineries confirmed to date include Karen Steinwachs, from Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard; Sonja Magdevski, from Casa Dumetz Wines; Brooke Carhartt, from Carhartt Vineyard & Winery; Alison Thomson, from Lepiane Wines; Lane Tanner, from Lumen Wines; Adrienne St. John, from Rideau Vineyard; Gretchen Voelcker, from Moon Unit Wines; Jessica Gasca, from Story of Soil; Tara Gomez, from Kitá Wines; Angela Osborne, from A Tribute To Grace; Kimberly Smith, from LaMontagne Winery; Marisa Beverly, from Bevela Wines; Clarissa Nagy, from Nagy Wines; Sandra Newman, from Cebada Wine; Angela Soleno, from Turiya Wines; Brit Zotovich, from Dreamcôte Wine Co.; Morgan Clendenen, from Cold Heaven Cellars; Anna Clifford, from Terravant Wine Company; Helen Falcone, from Falcone Family Vineyards; Kat Gaffney, from Spear Vineyards & Winery; Sarah Holt Mullins, from Rancho Sisquoc Winery; and Katie Povah and Jill DelaRiva Russell, from Cambria Wines. Additional participating winemakers will be announced.

Ticket purchases are required in advance from womenswinemakerdinner.eventbrite.com. The reception is $50 per person and dinner costs $125 per person (not including online processing fees). 

There will be free parking at the venue and in the adjacent public parking lot.

The March 8 event isn’t limited to women. Buy a ticket for the man in your life who isn’t intimidated by an International Women’s Day dinner party.

Kathy Marcks Hardesty can be reached at Kathy@centralcoastcritic.com.

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