The new owners of the California Wine Festival, from left, Sean Hecht, Chris Bellamy and Blaine Lando, enjoy the beginning of three days of festivities at Thursday night’s Old Spanish Nights event at the historic De La Guerra Adobe. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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iSociety: Rochelle Rose

The 2015 California Wine Festival kicked off its three-day immersion in Santa Barbara with a celebration of wines, food and music true to Santa Barbara’s Spanish roots at Thursday night’s Old Spanish Nights event.

The courtyard of the historic De La Guerra Adobe, site of the original Spanish Fiesta in downtown Santa Barbara, provided the perfect setting for an early evening of wine and food festivities.

Many wineries showcased their world-class wines to 350 attendees, along with a diverse array of appetizers from top local restaurants, caterers and delis.

Food purveyors included Cantwell’s Market & Deli (which offered a yummy salmon dish), Casa Blanca Restaurant, Coastal Specialty Products, Kerrygold Cheeses and Butters (all the way from Ireland) and Santa Barbara Tamales to Go.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. and Surf Brewery complemented the wineries present, which included Ahnfeldt, Alma Rosa, Barlow, Beckmen, Caliza, Carol Shelton, Foley, Hunter DeHaven and Jamie Slone.

“This is an appropriate way to start off the festival with a nod to the Spanish heritage here,” California Wine Festival Executive Director Emily Kaufmann told Noozhawk. “This event is expanding and we are expecting a record crowd of 350 guests. Attendees now come from around the world; in fact, some plan their vacations around this festival.”

Present at the opening night were the new owners of the festival, Chris Bellamy, Blaine Lando and Sean Hecht.

“We purchased the California Wine Festival from the previous owner of 11 years,” Lando said. “It just worked out; he was ready to sell and we were ready to buy. He was a good friend as well.”

And it’s all not just fun. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County as well as global charities.

This effort was all helped by sponsors Cox, Celebrity Cruises, the Santa Barbara Public Market, The Tate Group, Roadtrek, Santa Barbara Auto Group, The Bank of Santa Barbara, Icelandic Water, Noohawk and many others.

As the evening progressed, the courtyard crowd enjoyed colorful flamenco dancers, Latin music and vocals, and dancing.

The kickoff event will be followed by the Paso’s Cab Comeback Tasting & Seminar and the Sunset Rare and Reserve Tasting on Friday, and the larger Beachside Wine Festival at Chase Palm Park Plaza at East Beach on Saturday.

Click here for more information about the festival.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.