Fall is my favorite time of the year in wine country. For one thing it’s harvest time, and as as of the last week in August, many winemakers were already harvesting their first grapes of the season.
And it’s likely you know these winemakers are working their most difficult time of the year, usually 16-hour work days. Yet there’s still time for fall harvest celebrations, thanks be to Bacchus, the Greek God of wine (and agriculture) who was most celebrated for revelry.
However, when I’m searching for the best wine festivals to participate in, I look first to the fests that include great food. After all, you can’t imbibe in all of that alcohol without eating a lot of good food. Believe it or not, eating keeps your body from sending all of the alcohol directly to your blood stream. The way I see it you’re there to have fun while enjoying a great experience, not to get wiped out. So here are my choices so far for some great fall wine country experiences you will never want to forget, not before or afterward.
The 20th annual harvest dinner and wine tasting is coming up soon, both wine club members and non-members can make reservations to join the fun.
This fall, Flying Goat Cellars will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a harvest party on Saturday, Sept. 14. It’s a lunch and barrel tasting that’s taking place at the winemaking facility located at 1215 West Laurel Ave. in Lompoc (take note that it’s not at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto tasting room). It goes on from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The price for wine club members is only $25 per person, and they can buy up to four tickets at that great rate. Non-members will be charged $50 per person, unless you sign on for the club when you buy the tickets. One of the many reasons it’s good to join a wine club, the benefits are always enticing thanks to lower prices for wine purchases and cool parties.
At this year’s harvest celebration they’ll provide a sneak peek into the harvest, tastings of wines not yet released into the marketplace, plus new releases, and a delicious lunch with vegetarian and/or meat choices.
The “intimate affair” will be hosted by vintner/winemaker Norm Yost, his partner/wife Kate Griffith, and their dog Cooper. They will also provide an opportunity to create your own cuvee (varietal blend), and feel like a winemaker. I have always respected Yost’s wines, both sparkling wines and pinot noirs, and there will be much more to taste and enjoy. Learn more and/or order tickets at www. Flyinggoatcellars .com
When I contacted Megan McGinnis at Flying Goat Cellars, to ask if this publication date was too late to provide this news, she said no. “Most people wait until the last week to buy tickets, so I don’t think it will hurt to provide this notice with only one week left.” I have found that’s the way it works all over the Central Coast, so act fast.
The SLO Wine History Project
There are many reasons to admire the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County, which is doing so much to preserve the rich heritage of the SLO County wine industry.
They will be offering a day of learning more about our fine local wines at the recently renovated, historic Octagon Barn at 4400 Octagon Way in San Luis Obispo, not far from the Los Osos Valley Road exit off Hwy. 101, on the east side. The event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., and it’s sure to be an outing that’s family friendly.
The Wine History is providing a booth with featured wine collections while pouring fine wines from Saucelito Canyon Vineyard & Winery. The free event features an art show, dairy education, food trucks where you can purchase snacks, plus face painting and kids activities. After 5 p.m. there will be a ticket required concert with live music by The Shawn Clark Family Band. It will cost only $15 per person with proceeds benefitting the SLO Land Conservancy.
If you would like more information about the wine history project and their exhibitions, visit their webpage at www. Winehistoryproject .org. They are currently promoting a brand new venture, “The Food History Project and Wine History Project will be joining forces to honor local chefs, winemakers, growers, and vintners alike.”
They are hoping to establish a an archive of local cookbooks with local recipes, and books written by local chefs. If you can donate any of those cookbooks, they would appreciate it. You easily reach them online or through their contact information.
312 North Ninth Street, Lompoc, CA 93436
Ampelos is the greek word for “vine,” chosen because we believe that all “great wines start in the vineyard.” We employ biodynamic farming practices with rich cover crops, our own compost, elimination of herbicides and in general good, environmentally conscientious farming -- one of the first vineyards in the United States to be certified sustainable, organic and biodynamic. One of the best things about being winemakers is our opportunity to meet and share our love for wine with others. Come visit us and join us for a glass of wine.
1515-B East Chestnut Ave, Lompoc, CA 93436
Tasting Room Hours Thu-Fri 1pm-4pm Sat-Sun 12pm-4pm
The Brander Vineyard
2401 Refugio Rd, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Since its inception, The Brander Vineyard has been highly acclaimed as a top Sauvignon Blanc poducer, and for many years the only Brander Vineyard wine was an estate-bottled Sauvignon Blanc. Today, the focus is still Sauvignon Blanc, with one main bottling and five distinctively different reserve wines. A small quantity of red wine is also produced, featuring the classic Bordeaux verietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). As well as single varietal bottlings, extremely small amounts of Bouchet (a Bordeaux blend) and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are offered.
Brewer - Clifton
329 North F Street Lompoc, CA 93436
At Brewer - Clifton, we have an utmost respect for nature. We believe that the geographic, geologic and climatic uniqueness of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation provide an ideal place to grow chardonnay and pinot noir of intensity, complexity and specificity. Within the appellation, each vineyard carries its own imprint. Our mission and indeed our passion is to present wines that convey the characteristics inherent to each of these sites, with uncompromising quality. Our tasting room is open from 11am to 4pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Please call in advance for an appointment for groups of 8 or more people.
Bridlewood Estate Winery
3555 Roblar Ave. Santa Ynez, CA 93460 http://www.bridlewoodestatewinery.com/
Bridlewood Estate Winery’s 105-acre estate (a former horse ranch) and mission-style winery and tasting room echo the traditions of California’s past, with long, cool verandas surrounding a stone courtyard. The winery specializes in Syrah, with seven unique offerings. By sourcing from distinctive vineyards throughout the Central Coast, the winemaker works with unique flavors, aromas, and textures to create exquisite, well-balanced wines for you to enjoy. If you love wine, or simply want to experience the beauty of Santa Barbara County’s Wine Country, Bridlewood Estate Winery welcomes you.
Buttonwood Farm Winery
1500 Alamo Pintado Road Solvang, CA 93463 www.buttonwoodwinery.com
Experience the laid back nature of Buttonwood Farm Winery. Nestled amongst gardens and orchard and set below our estate vineyard, our Tasting Room features our superb estate wines, delicious farm products and friendly staff. Learn all about our farm as you enjoy our full range of wines while relaxing on our patio or picnicking in the garden. Conveniently located between Solvang and Los Olivos on Alamo Pintado Road. Life’s a peach at Buttonwood Farm!
Cambria Winery & Vineyard
5475 Chardonnay Lane Santa Maria, CA 93454
Estate defines the culture of Cambria. For more than 25 years, we have produced wines that faithfully express the singular stamp of one of the finest cool-climate crus in California. In this exceptional setting known as benchland, referring to the way the foothills rise up from the valley floor, the ancient, complex soil hosts the vineyards of our estate winery. Family-owned, sustainably-farmed, and passionately tended by a team proud to be stewards of this remarkable property, each wine we produce is 100% estate, fully revealing the essence of the Santa Maria Bench.
Carhartt Vineyard & Winery1
2990A Grand Avenue Los Olivos, CA 93441 www.carharttvineyard.com
Come and visit with the winemakers, Brooke and Mike, at the "World's Smallest Tasting Room", to taste our full range of current wines. Open 11am to 5pm, Daily. We welcome visitors to the vineyard, but by appointment only please.
Carr Vineyards & Winery
414 N. Salsipuedes Street Santa Barbara, CA 93103 www.carrwinery.com
Enjoy wine tasting, wines by the glass, flights of wine and wine on tap! Open daily 11am - 6pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11am - 8pm Established in 1999, Carr Vineyards & Winery specializes in ultra-premium, limited production wines from Santa Barbara County. Owner and Winemaker Ryan Carr also oversees the management of over 100 acres of vineyards, allowing him to handcraft each vintage from grapes grown to his specification. Varietals include Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Franc. Visit the 1940s Quonset Hut winery in downtown Santa Barbara to experience the art of winemaking.
Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard
3940 Dominion Road Santa Maria, CA 93454
Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery is a small ultra-premium winery specializing in Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Founded in 1988 by the Beko family, Cottonwood Canyon joins traditional Burgundian wine-making practices with American ingenuity to produce age-worthy and memorable wines.
Brothers John and Steve Dragonette and close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis founded Dragonette Cellars in 2005 after having worked together at a renowned wine shop in Los Angeles. Their shared passion for great wine brought them to wild, windy and remote northern Santa Barbara County where they spent the next several years seeking out extraordinary, cool-climate vineyards and dedicating themselves to careful, patient, minimalist winemaking.
As vignerons, they have committed themselves, above all else, to the mindful farming of precise blocks in exceptional vineyards for low yields and high quality and to the shepherding of these grapes into wines of purity, complexity and balance. Given the remarkable climatic and soil diversity in Santa Barbara County, Dragonette Cellars produces small lots of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah of interest and distinction.
-John Dragonette, Steve Dragonette, & Brandon Sparks-Gillis
Evening Land Vineyards
1503 East Chestnut Ave Lompoc, CA 93436 www.eveninglandvineyards.com
Evening Land Vineyards has brought together a collection of pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards in the three great growing regions of the American West. Come taste the American Terroir! Our tasting room hours are Friday-Sunday 11AM-5PM.
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
6200 Foxen Canyon Road Los Olivos, CA 93441
In 1989 the Fess Parker Family embarked on an adventure in the wine business in Santa Barbara County. Our original goals remain the same to this day: create wines of the highest quality and build a multi-generational family business. Over twenty-six years later, we have succeeded in garnering great critical acclaim while remaining entirely family owned and operated.
1597 E Chestnut Ave Lompoc, CA 93436 www.fiddleheadcellars.com
Fiddlehead Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines are passionately made from only the finest grapes, hand nurtured and cultivated and then aged to distinction. It’s a lively and fun atmosphere, and we think this attitude shows through in our wines. Note: Tours by appointment only.
Flying Goat Cellars
1520 East Chestnut Court, Unit A Lompoc, CA 93436
In many ways, Flying Goat Cellars is a study in contrasts. A humorous name and a serious lineup of wines. A startup “garagista” mode and 25 years of winemaking experience. A caricature of a leaping goat on a heavy and premium wine bottle. A mission of merriment and a dedicated commitment to professionalism. The result is exactly what owner/winemaker Norman Yost set out to do when he established Flying Goat Cellars in 1999.
7200 Foxen Canyon Road Santa Maria, CA 93454
Both our new FOXEN tasting room and our historic 7200 tasting "shack" are now open for double the fun!! Come by and check out our new winery, just south of the "shack" to taste our Burgundian and Rhone-Style varietals. Then head down to the "shack" to taste our Cal-Ital and Bordeaux-style wines. Both tasting rooms are open daily from 11-4pm. Our hours change on holidays.Come see what we're up to!
3950 East Hwy 246 Santa Ynez, CA 93460 www.gaineyvineyard.com
The Gainey Vineyard is comprised of 100 acres of vineyards, an Arabian horse operation, 1000 acres of rangeland upon which beef cattle feed on native grasses, and 600 acres farmed primarily to organically grown fruits and vegetables. The goal of Gainey Vineyard’s winemaking program is to create wines of uncompromising quality with optimum flavor and aromatic components that reflect the unique characteristics of the vineyards from which they come.
Hitching Post Wines
406 E. Highway 246 Buellton, CA 93427 www.hitchingpostwines.com
Frank and Gray first made wine at home in 1979. They found their first Pinot Noir in 1981. The project moved to a winery in 1984 to Frank and Graymake the first wines under the Hitching Post label. From 1991 to 2000, Frank and Gray have made their wines at the Au Bon Frank and GrayClimat/Qupe Winery on the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. In 2001, Hitching Post Wines moved to Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria. Yearly production has grown to 4700 cases.
Jaffurs Wine Cellars
819 E. Montecito Street Santa Barbara, CA 93103 www.jaffurswine.com
We are open for tasting Friday through Monday from 11 am to 5 pm. During the summer months, we are open everyday from 11 am to 5 pm. Appointments are not necessary if your group is 6 people or less, and you plan to visit during our regular tasting hours.
308 N 9th Street, Unit C Lompoc, CA 93436
Formerly part of an old Spanish land grant named Rancho San Julian, the Cargasacchi/Jalama Vineyard sits just a few miles from the Pacific. The area has a rich history of cattle ranching and farming dating back to the time of the first California missions. A few of the original vines first planted by the natives of La Purisima Misson still remain nearby. Today, we continue the ranching and farming tradition by raising Black Angus cattle and Pinot Noir grapes. Tasting hours are 12-5 Thursday through Sunday or by appointment.
343 N.Refugio Rd Santa Ynez, CA 93460 www.kalyrawinery.com
Nestled among hundreds of acres of rolling vineyards is the original Kalyra Winery. You'll be served from the bar featured in the 'Sideways' movie, and enjoy our full-length deck that offers a fantastic, tranquil picnic spot for your full tasting day as well.
Kenneth Volk Vineyards
5230 Tepusquet Road Santa Maria, CA 93454 www.volkwines.com
Our Santa Maria tasting room is open daily from 10:30AM - 4:30PM and our Paso Robles tasting room is open daily from 10:30AM- 5:00PM.
5360 Foxen Canyon Rd. Los Olivos, CA 93441 www.koehlerwinery.com
Koehler Winery is a 100 acre estate, recognized as among the best in the Santa Ynez valley. When Kory Koehler acquired the property in 1997, her vision was to create world-class premium wines at affordable prices. Her 67 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Syrah, Sangiovese, Grenache and Viognier. The wines received high praise from Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, Wine & Spirits Magazine and the New York Times. Open daily 10 am to 5 pm. Guests may enjoy wine on the grounds, surrounded by the family's menagerie of animals and exotic birds.
28 Anacapa St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Open daily, from 11am - 6pm, just a block from the beach in downtown Santa Barbara!
2935 Grand Avenue Los Olivos, CA 93441 www.longoriawine.com
Our Tasting Room is located in downtown Los Olivos. Enjoy our beautiful garden and fountains while tasting our latest vintages. A must stop for connoisseurs, our annual production is only 3,500 cases per year. We have been producing ultra-premium wines in Santa Barbara County since 1982. Our wines include Albarino, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and red blends, including our very popular "Blues Cuvee," featuring a different artist label every other vintage. We also produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from some of the finest vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills, including our Estate Vineyard, Fe Ciega.
Loring Wine Company
1034 W. Aviation Drive, Lompoc, CA 93436 www.loringwinecompany.com
Our tasting room is located in the “Lompoc Wine Ghetto”. We're open to the public Friday through Sunday from 12pm to 5pm; Monday through Thursday by appointment only. To contact the tasting room staff, please call (805) 742-0478.
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
1645 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, CA 93463
Visit the Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards Tasting Room, located in the charming European village of Solvang. Voted “The Best Tasting Room in The Santa Ynez Valley” by readers of The SY Valley News. Our Tasting Room staff offers guests a sampling of Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards’ premium estate wines: rich and full-bodied reds, fine white wines, and our popular sparkling wine. On any given day, you may find owners Royce Lewellen and Louis Lucas behind the bar, pouring wine and captivating guests with the real “dirt” on the grapes.
Margerum Wine Company Tasting Room
813 Anacapa Street Santa Barbara, CA 93101 www.margerumwinecompany.com
Margerum Wine Company is committed to creating handcrafted wines using only the highest quality grapes so that we can make wines that are indicative of the place where they are grown.
5185 East Hwy 246 Lompoc, CA 93436
Melville Winery and Vineyards is located within the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in Lompoc, California, in Western Santa Ynez Valley. Melville’s Estate features a beautiful picnic area where we welcome guests to relax and enjoy their lunch and wine among the vines. Also consider experiencing the Melville Estate Private Tour and Tasting. Our tasting room is open daily from 11am-4pm. Groups of 8 or more welcome with a reservation.
New Vineland Winery
1501 E. Chestnut Ave. Lompoc, CA 93436
Our tasting room and winery in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto are open to the public by appointment during the week, and for walk-in tastings on the weekends. We offer tasting flights of our current releases and wines by the glass.
Pali Wine Company
1036 W. Aviation Dr. Lompoc, CA 93436
Pali offers tastings on Fridays and Saturdays from 11-4:00 pm, and by appointment Monday- Thursday. Tastings are $10 for fives wines (the fee is waived with purchase) and are are held in a quiet corner of the winery where wines are poured on top of a barrel. It's worth the trek to Lompoc (an hour north of Santa Barbara) just o try Pali's elegant and expressive wines.
1520 East Chestnut Court, Lompoc, CA 93436
Palmina produces a full range of wines crafted from Italian varietals grown in Santa Barbara County, California. Palmina is not trying to emulate the Italian versions of those wines, but rather translate the history of those grapes to the growing conditions and vineyard sites of the very unique characteristics of Santa Barbara County. Our tasting room is open Thursday – Saturday: 11am – 5pm and Sunday & Monday : 11am – 4pm.
Rancho Sisquoc Winery
6600 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria, CA 93454
At Rancho Sisquoc Winery we believe in crafting quality wines in small quantities. As one of the first wineries in the now famous Santa Barbara County wine region we have been around long enough to know that great wine is born from great vineyards. Here on the ranch we have over 300 acres of superb vineyards for our award winning estate wines.
Riverbench Vineyard & Winery
6020 Foxen Canyon Road Santa Maria, CA 93454
Riverbench Vineyard was established in 1973 when its first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted in the Santa Maria Valley. Made in limited quantities, Riverbench wines are available exclusively through our Tasting Room and selected fine restaurants. Having worked in the wine industry for the past 17 years, winemaker Clarissa Nagy has become known for her elegant and sophisticated winemaking style, and has an appreciation for fruit that comes out of the Santa Maria Valley.
1819 Ballard Canyon Rd Solvang, CA 93463
We are a boutique winery in Santa Barbara County dedicated to handcrafting wines of distinction and elegance. We hope that we can meet in person at our Tasting Room, nestled in the beauty of Ballard Canyon between Solvang and Los Olivos, California. In the meantime, our website will provide lots of details on Rusack – our philosophy, the vineyards, the wines, and the people that make it all happen.
5010 Santa Rosa Road Lompoc, CA 93436
In 1971 we discovered an overlooked, grape-growing treasure in the Santa Rita Hills. Recognizing a magical combination of climate and soil conditions much like those in France's famed Burgundy province, we planted the area's first Pinot Noir in our Sanford & Benedict vineyard. Pinot Noir has thrived in the Santa Rita Hills ever since, and so has Sanford Winery. Our Pinot Noir ranks among the best and most distinctive in the world.
Santa Barbara Winery
202 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
The wines under the Santa Barbara Winery label range from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to lesser known but memorable varietals such as Negrette and Lagrein. The tasting room is 2 blocks from the beach and the site doubles as a production (all of their white wines are processed there) and storage facility.
724 Reddick Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Benjamin Silver Wines currently produces extremely small bottlings of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Mourvedre, Syrah, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese from Santa Barbara County. The vineyards in Santa Barbara County benefit from sandstone and loam soils, over 300 days of sunshine a year, and a maritime regulated climate. Within the region, there is a diverse range of mesoclimates. These unique areas provide the ideal climatic conditions for growing a wide range of grape varietals well. The ability to purchase world-class quality fruit, fruit which produces wines with intense flavor and complex regional character, keeps Benjamin committed to Santa Barbara County wines.
1659 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, CA 93464
Over 20 years ago, our Founding Partner, Thomas Stolpman, discovered what we believe to be one of the greatest viticultural sites on earth. Hidden in the hills of California’s Central Coast, on a rare Limestone outcropping & unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean wind, this unique land is ideally suited to grow Syrah and Roussanne grapes. We are committed to preserving this natural environment for our vines through natural farming, dry farming, & sustainable employment. In the winery, we prefer native fermentation & minimal manipulation. Dedicated to sensible farming & winemaking, we believe that we can create natural, vibrant, site-specific wines, with a focus unique to Ballard Canyon AVA, California. You can see more great photos from Stolpmanvineyards on their
2330 Lillie Avenue Summerland, CA 93067
Summerland Winery produces quality, estate-grown wines derived from renowned vineyards across the Central Coast. Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) from which we source our wine grapes is a specially designated growing region distinguishable by its unique geographic, climatic and soil features. Our estate vineyard, Theresa-Noelle, is located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. It’s planted to 11 acres of four different Pinot Noir clones: 115, Pommard, 667, and 828 and has 6×3 spacing of 4 blocks. Founded in 2002 by Nebil “Bilo” Zarif, the wines created are precipitously focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals, though our winemaker also likes to dabble in expressive Rhône and Bordeaux iterations. We’re especially proud of our estate vineyard, Theresa-Noelle, in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Beyond the vineyards, Summerland Winery offers an inviting, relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy Summerland wines at their tasting room in the seaside village of Summerland, California.
313 N. F. Street Lompoc, CA 93436
We are a small, husband-and-wife run winery dedicated to making exceptional cool-climate Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some of the finest vineyards in Santa Barbara County’s acclaimed Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills winegrowing regions. We make our wines with care and integrity, in small lots and limited quantities, and in a style that embodies what we love about these grapes—their capacity for structure, nuance, complexity, elegance and ageing potential. We are also a winery with a purpose. Because we believe that wine has the potential to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, we support the efforts of several wonderful non-profit organizations by donating a minimum of 10 percent of our sales and an additional 10 percent of our annual wine production to these worthwhile agencies
321 North D Street Lompoc, CA, CA 93436
Winemaker and owner, Angela Soleno, captures the essence of making wine on a small scale with each bin, fermenter, vineyard block, and barrel getting her personal attention with touch, smell, and taste. The end result: dramatically fine-tuned wines. Turiya only produces red wines and specializes in Bordeaux varietals. Here you will find blends, as well as extremely small releases of single cultivars. A big part of Turiya dogma is to be aware - aware of what we put in our bodies. As a promise to our customers, Turiya vows to stay small and focused to ensure the best quality of hands-on winemaking.
Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards
6905 Foxen Canyon Road Los Olivos, CA 93441
Zaca Mesa is a Santa Ynez Valley estate winery dedicated to Rhone varieties. Since 1972, we have hand crafted wines from grapes grown in our vineyards to express their distinct character and genuine quality, offering you a unique experience to share. We believe in growing the best grapes in our vineyards and using the traditional wine making techniques to craft wines that are authentic and reflect our unique terrior. We do not follow the latest style trends, but instead focus on making wines with distinct character and genuine quality.
Reach Kathy Marcks Hardesty at Kathymhardesty @