In celebration of International Women’s Day, the fourth annual Women Winemakers Celebration that showcases the winemaking, cooking and baking skills of women winemakers, chefs and bakers will take place Sunday, March 8 at Roblar Farm in Los Olivos.

While prior celebrations were centered on dinner, this year’s event will be a brunch and take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. As in previous years, the event will benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County.

Tickets to the March 8 event are on sale online and available by clicking here.

Roblar Farm is located at 2121 Highway 154 at the junction with Roblar Avenue.

Tasting Reception tickets (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) are $50 per person (plus tax and online processing fees); the reception includes passed appetizers and tastings from more than 20 winemakers. “Full Feast” tickets (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) are $125 per person (plus tax and fees) and include both the reception and the seated, four-course brunch with wine pairings. Full Feast tickets are limited, and advance purchase is required.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated worldwide since 1909 with a focus on working women’s achievements and issues. In a working environment that sees about 10 percent of the global wine industry as female lead winemakers, Karen Steinwachs, general manager and winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard and co-founder of the annual Women Winemakers Celebration, said, “Santa Barbara County not only sees a much higher percentage of women winemakers than most regions in the world — with nearly double the average — but 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, making this event, and this year, that much more special.”

Participating winemakers and wineries confirmed to date include Steinwachs, Buttonwood and her own label, Seagrape Wine Co., Lane Tanner, Lumen Wines; Kathy Joseph, Fiddlehead Cellars; Brooke Carhartt, Carhartt Vineyard and Winery; Clarissa Nagy, C. Nagy Wines; Sonja Magdevski, Casa Dumetz Wines; Alison Thomson, Lepiane Wines; Brit Zotovich, Dreamcôte Wine Co.; Helen Falcone, Falcone Family Vineyards; Marisa Clendenen Matela, Bevela Wines; Tara Gomez, Kitá Wines; Mireia Taribó and Gomez, Camins 2 Dreams; Sandra Newman, Cebada Wine; McKenna Giardine, E11even Wines; Gretchen Voelcker, Luna Hart Wines; Laura Roach, Loubud Wines; Dana Volk, Dana V. Wines; Jessica Gasca, Story of Soil; Angela Osborne, A Tribute to Grace Wine Co.; Wynne Solomon, Peake Ranch Winery; Rachel Silkowski DeAscentiis, Say When Wine; and Anna Clifford, Jill DelaRiva Russell and Denise Shurtleff, Cambria Wines. More winemakers will be announced as the date nears.

The winemakers will be joined by chefs and bakers of the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys who will collaborate to create a four-course brunch to pair with a selection of their winemaker colleagues’ wines.

Chef Brooke Stockwell, executive chef for Gleason Family Vineyards, will be joined “in the kitchen” by other female culinary talent, such as baker Amy Dixon (The Baker’s Table, Santa Ynez); chef Cynthia Miranda and Alicia Valencia (The Lucky Hen Larder, Santa Ynez); chef Golzar Barrera of All Purpose Flower; Theo Stephan (Los Olivos’ Global Gardens); the women from Sass Catering and Pattibakes (Buellton); Joy and Taylor, owners of Solvang Spice Merchant; Leyla Williams and the team at Solvang’s Good Seed Coffee Boutique; Missy Morales of Lompoc’s Sweet Baking Co.; and chef Robin Reynolds of the Dunn School in Los Olivos.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, a giving circle through which individuals combine their money and/or time so that they can have a bigger impact on the causes most important to them. Since 2007, the Women’s Fund has provided the community an annual average of $81,000; the funds go to organizations serving women, children, the arts and the community.

New Winemaker, Director of Business Development for Alma Rosa Winery

Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards last month announced two new hires: Samra Morris as winemaker and RaeLynn Zenzius as director of business development.

RaeLynn Zenzius of Alma Rosa Winery

RaeLynn Zenzius (Courtesy photo)

Morris, born and raised in Bosnia, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food sciences from the University of Sarajevo, College of Agricultural and Food Sciences. She interned with the Department of Enology at the University of Sarajevo, which propelled her to pursue a career in winemaking.

Morris moved to Napa Valley, where she worked as a tasting room associate, interned in the vineyard for St. Supery, spent three harvests as a cellar intern for esteemed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown and worked on the cellar team at Michael Mondavi Family Estate. In 2017, Morris joined Free Flow Wines as a lab assistant, was promoted to lab supervisor the following year and then to QC manager in 2019. Morris joined Alma Rosa in the summer of 2019 as assistant winemaker.

Samra Morris of Alma Rosa Winery

Samra Morris (Courtesy photo)

“We’re thrilled to appoint Samra as winemaker of Alma Rosa. She brings intelligence, passion and a strong work ethic to this role,” said Debra Eagle, general manager.

Zenzuis comes to Alma Rosa from Kalyra Winery, where she worked her way toward general manager after stints in production and sales. A native of New England, Zenzuis said she was drawn to the West Coast for the chance to combine her entrepreneurial spirit with her love of the outdoors. She went on to build several businesses, studied long/short fiction at UCLA, and became an elite cycling coach and amateur bike racer before venturing into the world of wine.

“We are so happy to have a woman with RaeLynn’s passion and indefatigable energy to help us grow the critical consumer direct channels that are integral to the health of a small winery,” Eagle said.

Alma Rosa was founded in 2005 by Richard Sanford, who was the first to plant pinot noir in the region in 1971. Sanford went on to launch two wineries before creating Alma Rosa, which Bob and Barb Zorich purchased in 2014.

Winemaker Wins Brunch with Billy Baldwin

Actor Billy Baldwin with winemaker Angela Soleno and guest Dennis Avila

Actor Billy Baldwin, left, with winemaker Angela Soleno and guest Dennis Avila. Soleno won a brunch with Baldwin during the 2019 Lompoc Rotary Wine Tasting. (Courtesy photo)

Billy Baldwin, a resident of Montecito and an actor, writer and producer, recently joined Angela Soleno, owner of Lompoc’s Turiya Wines, and her guest, Dennis Avila, owner of 246 Wine Tours, for a brunch at Lucky’s in Montecito.

Soleno won the brunch as a live auction item from the 2019 Lompoc Rotary Wine Tasting. Baldwin was the celebrity emcee at the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation gala ball and auction Feb. 15 at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara hotel in Goleta.

The 2019 wine tasting benefitted the Campaign for Lompoc Community Track & Field’s capital project at Huyck Stadium to the tune of $25,000, according to project campaign co-chair Ashley Costa.

Costa, who also attended the brunch, thanked Baldwin and Soleno for their generosity. “These gifts of time and treasure yet again underscore that while we may be from multiple ZIP codes, we are part of one larger mutually supportive community,” she said. “It makes me proud to be from Lompoc and proud to be from Santa Barbara County.”

The annual Rotary Wine Tasting event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Lompoc.

Bion Rice Departs Sunstone Vineyards & Winery

Bion Rice, CEO and director of winemaking at Sunstone Vineyards & Winery in Santa Ynez, has left the business, handing the reins to his family and new investors.

He will focus on his Artiste wine brand and a new consulting firm, Cultivate Growth Advisors, and has launched a podcast, “Two Glasses In,” in which he interviews area winemakers over two glasses of wine.

Sunstone was founded in 1992 by the husband-and-wife team of Fred and Linda Rice. In 2011, after the death of his mother, Bion Rice stepped into the role of CEO. From 2011 to 2015, the brand switched from its wholesale distribution focus to one led by direct-to-consumer sales from the Refugio Road estate.

Buellton Wine & Chili Festival Set for March 15

The 2020 Buellton Wine & Chili Festival will return for a seventh year from noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15 at Flying Flags RV Resort.

Attendees will sample fare from more than 30 wineries and craft breweries and more than 25 chili and salsa cooks, including local restaurants.

This year, the family friendly event will be held at Flying Flags, a glamping resort, and will feature live music by the Dusty Jugs and the VineYard Byrds. Bocce ball, table tennis and cornhole games will be available.

Hot Chili tickets ($50) are for all guests age 21 or older and include a souvenir wine glass, unlimited wine, craft beer and chili tasting. For guests under 21 years old, Mild Chili tickets are $15 and include unlimited samples of chili and salsa but no alcohol.

The event will benefit scholarship funds that support various local programs, among them local elementary and middle school PTSAs, graduating high school seniors and the Buellton Senior Center.

The Brew Bus will transport guests to and from the festival: in Santa Barbara, 10:30 a.m. at Figueroa Mountain; 11 a.m. at M Special Brewing Co. in Goleta; at Figueroa Mountain Brewing in Santa Maria at 10:30 a.m. and Solvang Brewing Co. in Lompoc at 11:15 a.m. Tickets for the Brew Bus must be purchased in advance.

Click here for tickets and more information.

Paso Robles Wine Community Donates to Relief Efforts

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance recently announced a contribution of $94,324 from the Paso Robles wine community to fire relief efforts dedicated to the Kincade Fire in Sonoma.

Funds were raised via a collaboration with more than 40 wineries and related businesses through November. The money will go to three nonprofit organizations whose efforts support recovery funds for agricultural workers and their families who were displaced from their homes, lost wages or otherwise affected by the Kincade Fire.

“The Paso Robles wine community came together to help our neighboring California wine communities impacted by wildfires yet again,’’ said Joel Peterson, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “Wineries and related businesses of Paso Robles raised these funds through direct contributions and by dedicating one dollar per bottle sold through the month of November 2019.”

The nonprofit organizations identified to receive the funds raised are the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation, the Corazón Healdsburg Unity & Community Fund and the Community Foundation of Sonoma County Resilience Fund.

“It is heartwarming to have our fellow community of winemakers and grape growers from Paso Robles support Sonoma County and its vineyard workers recovering from the 2019 Kincade Fire,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers and executive director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. “It helps make the world feel a little smaller and really shines a spotlight on the compassion and connectedness of the wine community. We are so grateful for the support and hope our friends in Paso Robles know what a difference they are making.”

The fundraising program started Nov. 1, one week after the wildfires ripped through an area northeast of Geyserville, in Sonoma. The fire burned 77,758 acres before it was fully contained on Nov. 6.

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