Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 12:36 am | Fair 48º


Laurie Jervis: Celebration of Harvest Festival in Solvang a Fine Delight for Wine Lovers

A large crowd sampled wines and food at Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang during the Santa Barbara Vintners' Celebration of Harvest grand tasting festival Saturday afternoon.

While the afternoon was warm, a breeze kept attendees relatively cool as they wandered from booth to booth, sipping wines from the more than 120 producers who are members of the Santa Barbara Vintners, Santa Barbara County's largest winery and vineyard association. Twenty-five food purveyors, among them the Ballard Inn & Restaurant, Global Gardens, the Hitching Post II and Stafford's Famous Chocolates, offered small tastes of appetizers and desserts.

The association hosts two annual events, the Vintners Festival in April and the Celebration of Harvest in October. For more than a decade, the fall event took place at Rancho Sisquoc Winery on Foxen Canyon Road, but was relocated by SBV Executive Director Morgen McLaughlin to the Solvang Mission this year.

New this year was a morning seminar, held across the street at the Veterans Memorial Hall and featuring six winemakers moderated by writer Matt Kettmann of Wine Enthusiast and the Santa Barbara Independent.

Among the topics discussed: the current harvest, which for most panelists is complete or nearly so; the popularity of night harvesting — to keep both grapes and picking crews safe from mid-morning heat; and how Santa Barbara County has begun to edge out Napa County as the "local" wine region for residents of Los Angeles County, a huge wine market.

Producing good wine is only half the battle; one also has to market and sell it.

Panelist and Casa Dumetz winemaker Sonja Magdevski produces her wine in Buellton but for several years has operated a tasting room in Los Alamos. The tiny town has a higher-than-average per capita rate of tasting rooms and restaurants.

Los Alamos attracts two types of visitors, she said. The first are "those who stumble upon the town, usually looking for gasoline, and are shocked" by the choices for food, wine and beer tasting, as well as art and antiques. The rest are people who know about Los Alamos as a destination, Magdevski said, adding that returning visitors represent 65 percent of her customer base.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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