38th annual Vintners Festival will return to Solvang’s Mission Santa Inés
The 38th annual Vintners Festival will return to Solvang’s Mission Santa Inés on Oct. 8, and feature more than 70 wineries large and small. (Jeremy Ball / Bottle Branding photo)

One of California’s most popular and enduring wine events, the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival, will return to Solvang on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The festival will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Mission Santa Inés and feature more than 50 wineries and gourmet offerings from more than 30 regional chefs, restaurants and food producers.

Visitors will be able to meet winemakers and winery owners to learn why Santa Barbara County was named 2021 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in November 2021.

Guests can also enjoy samples of the region’s best sparkling wine in the Bank of Marin-sponsored “Bubble Lounge,” along with live music, and culinary and viticulture demonstrations.

Those who want a jump-start to the festival — entry at noon instead of 1 p.m. — can purchase an early entry admission ticket for $125.

Mission Santa Inés, ag 1760 Mission Drive, is located just outside downtown Solvang, meaning it’s a short walk from many local accommodations. While parking is available on the mission property, attendees are encouraged to walk or carpool to ensure safe transport to and from the event.

“Santa Barbara Wine Country has been internationally recognized as the Wine Region of the Year because it produces globally competitive wines from one of the most diverse growing regions in the world,” said Alison Laslett, CEO of the Santa Barbara Vintners, formerly the Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

“But education, experience, passion and wisdom the winemakers pour into every bottle is what really sets us apart.”

Laslett added that “our wine country offers more varietals than any other wine region, so everyone from wine novices to experienced collectors and connoisseurs will find cases to buy and enjoy at home.”

For visitors who wish to extend wine tasting from one day to several, the Vintners Visa, $50 per person, will be valid from Thursday, Oct. 6, through Monday, Oct. 10.

The pass, which offers special tastings at more than 12 area wineries, can be procured from one of seven tasting rooms throughout the region. While the visa can be purchased separately or bundled with festival tickets, it does not include entry into the festival itself.

General admission tickets are $95 and grant access to all of the day’s tastings and festivities starting at 1 p.m. For those whose primary residence is in Santa Barbara County, the “Locals’ Discount” tickets are $75. Note: These discounted tickets are only available to the first 250 buyers.

Tickets for nondrinking guests, such as designated drivers or children between the ages of 6 and 20, are $25 per person. Children younger than 6 have free entry to the festival.

Click here for tickets and more information about the festival, which will take place rain or shine. All tickets are nonrefundable.

Among the long-standing sponsors and partners behind the event are Bank of Marin, the Chumash Casino Resort, and Visit the Santa Ynez Valley.

Santa Barbara Vintners is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization founded in 1983 to protect and promote Santa Barbara County as a world-class wine growing region. The association includes winery members whose annual production is at least 75% Santa Barbara County (or sub-AVA) labeled, as well as extensive industry-associated members.

The association produces festivals; educational seminars and tastings; provides information to consumers, trade and media; and advocates for the Santa Barbara County wine and grape industry. Click here for more information.

Fess Parker Winery Named to Magazine’s ‘Top 100’ List

Wine & Spirits Magazine has recognized the family-owned Fess Parker Winery as a “Top 100 Winery of the Year” for 2022.

Each year, Wine & Spirits designates its Top 100 Wineries from diverse regions throughout the world of wine. After vetting thousands of producers in a two-step, blind-tasting process, the magazine’s editors developed a list of the best of the best, each selected for their overall performance in showcasing regional distinctions.

For the first time, Fess Parker Winery is a recipient of this prestigious award, and. one of only nine wineries from the Central Coast to be recognized. The three other Santa Barbara County wineries also represented in the Top 100 list are Au Bon Climat, Chanin Wine Co. and Samsara.

“This is an extraordinary honor for our family and the entire Fess Parker vineyard and winemaking team,” said Tim Snider, winery president.

“We continually strive to make the highest quality, most expressive wines from our region, and being recognized by Wine & Spirits only affirms these efforts. We couldn’t be prouder of our team, or more grateful to be making wine here in Santa Barbara County —a region that continually inspires us. Sharing this award with other Santa Barbara County producers truly speaks to the quality of this area as a whole.”

Fess Parker and his family have cultivated a world-class hospitality portfolio in Santa Barbara County since the late 1980s. The winery focuses on the grape varieties best suited to the region’s unique growing conditions — pinot noir, chardonnay and Rhône wines.

Click here for the complete list of Top 100 Wineries in available.

Must! Charities Raises $2.5 Million at August Event

Wine industry and business leaders from across the country again came together at Must! Charities’ PURPOSE Aug. 13 event with a shared passion to give back — and give back they did.

In just its second year, PURPOSE raised $2.5 million, easily eclipsing the $1.3 million generated from the inaugural event in 2021. With this latest success, PURPOSE is rising to be in the top 15 grossing wine auctions in the United States.

The event took place at Booker Vineyard in Paso Robles, and was an ambition of Eric Jensen, farmer-winemaker at Booker and a founding member of Must! Charities.

Having earned a reputation as the “the best damn party in Paso Robles,” PURPOSE exceeds fine dining, luxurious auction lots and festive live performances. It is a party with a heart, dedicated to supporting critical needs in the greater San Luis Obispo County region.

This year’s theme was “Let’s Get Uncomfortable,” prompting guests to dig deep on behalf of those in need.

“Our little community of Paso Robles continues to show why it is the hottest and most special place in the wine world,” Jensen said. “The local vintners and those who love their wines are not just in it for themselves. They are putting profits back and building a stronger, healthier community that strives to leave no one behind.”

The star of this year’s show was the “Fund a Need” lot benefitting the Juan Nevarez Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides academic opportunities to children of vineyard and winery workers.

A total of $1.3 million was raised for this lot, with more than $1 million earmarked for the scholarship fund and the remainder being invested in upcoming projects at Must! Charities.

Top “Fund a Need” contributors included contributors included JUSTIN Vineyard & Winery, Constellation Brands, Lisa and Eric Jensen, Sabrina and Doug Kruse, Law Estate Wines, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Saxum Vineyards and Southern Glazer’s. These top bidders set the tone and encouraged more than 100 other people to raise their paddles in the spirit of giving.

“The hardest workers, those working among the vines and in the soil, are the ones who built the Paso wine region,” said Becky Gray, executive director of Must! Charities. “But they aren’t always the ones recognized and glamorized.

“It was incredibly emotional to witness the camaraderie of the crowd to come alongside these families and create opportunities in education that they may otherwise not have.”

Click here for more information, or call 805.226.5788.

— Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via winecountrywriter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are her own.