Lila and I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara in September last year--just on a whim, because we love wine and food and thought it would be a way to bring people together. Our first event was held at the beautiful courtyard of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. We had 60 people show up--a successful start to our new wine tasting group. We started the wine tasting group on Meetup--a social network designed to "build community"--one that is very effective in getting like-minded people together, whether they like wine tasting, hiking, reading, or whatever.
In October, Karen Steinwachs poured her Buttonwood Family Winery wines for us and the Hyatt Santa Barbara hosted, laying out a beautiful spread of food--a "build-yourself" appetizer bar with hummus, tapenade, cheeses, pita, Parmesan crisps, various flavored honey, and fruit that paired very well with Karen's wines.
Sauvignon Blanc Zingy and Cabernet Franc, among others.
We had lots of rave reviews on the tasting, like this one from Richard: "I want to THANK Tama and Lila for a wonderful event! The venue was just perfect and the Hyatt provided very nice appetizers. Lila and her helpers did a great job of keeping the tastings poured and it was a delight to have Karen, the winemaker at Buttonwood, present to tell us about her wines and wine making. FABULOUS!!!"
Bistro 1111 at the Hyatt Santa Barbara--they have really good happy hour food--like ahi tuna sliders and garlic flatbread--and all small plates and well drinks are just $5 each. It was a fun, casual way to get to know some of our Inside Wine - Santa Barbara members better.
As a thank you to our members, in December, we had a Holiday Party with some amazing prizes--beautiful wine gift baskets from Touring & Tasting that were chock-full of gourmet treats, like organic local pistachios, and stunning wines, like the Havens Meritage and the Lucas & Lewellen Cabernet Sauvignon; a round of golf at the prestigious Ojai Valley Inn; movie tickets; and a gift certificate to Seagrass Restaurant. The Hyatt had decorated the room festively, with a sparkly Christmas tree and holiday decorations.
Later that month, Lila hosted a wine tasting of the wines she reps with Franco Wines, at Vino Divino. I bought several bottles, including a wonderful Amarone that I neglected to photograph, that lasted for a week open--not turning, but developing in the bottle with age. Molto gustoso!
post. They have a remarkable story, and Inside Wine Santa Barbara was as enthralled with is as I was when I visited their winery in Edna Valley.
Some of our lucky Inside Wine members won door prizes of $25 gift certificates to Claybourne & Churchill. As member Debbie said, "A very lovely event. Great wine, nice venue and wonderful crowd."
Stacked Stone Cellars wines. Winemaker/owner Donald Thiessen poured his Paso Robles wines for us. He's a small-lot producer with a dry-farmed, head-pruned estate Zinfandel vineyard. He blends west-side Paso grapes into field blends where he can balance the ripe fruit with acidity and tannins. Affable, with a good sense of humor, Donald quipped that wine making is turning green into red--his "green" (cash) into red (wine)...and that the tasting was an attempt to turn red into green (i.e. sell some wine). He outlined some of the history of Zinfandel from its roots in Croatia, to the introduction into Italy, where it is called Primitivo, to the US. He jokingly told us that he is a wime maker who doesn't drink wine...because what he does is "research", not drink.
So, after half a year, I can say that Inside Wine Santa Barbara has been both a success and a lot of fun. In the year ahead, we're looking forward to a "field trip" to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto and a more structured wine tasting with a sommelier--we'll see what this year brings!
Follow us on Facebook and check out our Meetup page.