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Tara Jones


Tara Jones: Toasts ‘The Spirit of Santa Barbara’

By Tara Jones, Noozhawk Columnist |

[Noozhawk’s note: Tara Jones is now writing a column for Noozhawk. Click here for a related article.]

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Santa Barbara’s, a celebratory feast of what this fair city has to offer locals and visitors alike during the month of October.

The theme of this year is "The Spirit of Santa Barbara," featuring the culture, cuisine and libations of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.

With something new to try almost every day of the month, Santa Barbara County just became an epicurean adventure your mouth can’t afford to miss.

There are myriad events happening this month, but there’s only one of you and so little time.

So, I’ve done the homework for you, and compiled a list of my personal favorites that will help you quench your thirst this October at any cost.

Grassini Family Vineyards Tasting Room, 813 Anacapa St., El Paseo No. 6, will be daily featuring a four-wine tasting flight paired with a Jessica Foster Confections truffle for $10. If you want to take your chocolate tasting experience to the next level, upgrade to a full chocolate pairing for only $4.

And while you’re there, purchase a bottle of some of Santa Barbara’s finest wine to pair with the hand-selected truffle recipe you will receive during this decadent experience.

If you’re looking for a way to wrap up your midweek workday, check out an economical $10 Wine Down Wednesdays with Your Local Winemaker at Renegade Wines, 417 Santa Barbara St., No. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Four local winemakers will pour a selection of wines and share their winemaking practices while you taste some of the finest fromage from C’est Cheese.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, 417 Santa Barbara St., Suite A-6 for $15 Sweets and Insobriety, every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Koval Confections will pair their secret family recipe toffees, fudge and creamy caramels, the locals affectionately call “crack,” with world-class chardonnay, pinot noir or sparkling wine grown in the Santa Maria Valley.

The sugars crafted by Koval Confections will have you hooked and crying uncle from the moment you unwrap your first piece, while the sparkling wines will have your taste buds swimming in luxury.

If you’re looking to mix up your usual Wednesday happy hour habit, stop by AVA Santa Barbara at 116 Yanonali St., where harvest updates, grape tastings, winemaker’s commentary and hearty small bites accompanied by local wines will be provided at Harvest Bites. This $15 weekly event, hosted every Wednesday night during from 5:30 to 7 p.m., will not only fill your belly, but will keep you up-to-date on this year’s harvest season.

To kick off your epicurean adventure, get dolled up in your finest 1920s attire and join The Great Gatsby Goes Gourmet party at Isabella Gourmet Foods at 5 E. Figueroa St. at 6 p.m. next Monday, Oct. 7.

Watch a master mixologist craft artisan mixers and elixirs from the Isabella shelves into specialty drinks. And be sure to purchase your $65 tickets soon, Old Sport, for this sweet throwback to the speakeasy days.

The piéce de résistance of for all you serious wine imbibers is the Winemaker for a Day event at Margerum Wine Company, at 59 Industrial Way in Buellton, on Oct. 11 or Oct. 25; a tremendous $250 investment into your wine snobbish knowledge.

Roll up those shirt sleeves and get down to work sorting and crushing grapes, yeasting and inoculating ferments, lab analysis, plunging and punch down ferments, barrel tasting and creating your own blend of wine.

During your day on-site, you’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch paired with various wines and an exclusive opportunity to work directly with the winemaker and staff who will guide you through the process of vine to wine.

Cost includes all supplies, lunch, wine pairings and a bottle of your very own blend to take home. Space is limited to 12 people per session.

For a complete list of events, click here and toast to the best of Santa Barbara County.

Tara Jones leads Eat This, Shoot That! and welcomes reader tips and ideas for future columns. She can be reached at [email protected]. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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