Spirits are rising: Visit SYV’s New Distillery

First comes wine, then comes craft beer…then comes moonshine distilleries? It’s true! The latest in local liquid fascinations, a distillery has put down roots in nearby Buellton.

The Business of SYV’s New Distillery

Opening the first legal distillery in Santa Barbara County since the Prohibition Era, Ascendant Spirits is the perfect new addition to Santa Ynez Valley’s growing food and beverage scene.

Surprisingly, whiskey ages well in Santa Ynez Valley for many of the same reasons that wine does – climate. Ascendant Spirits’ products include Breaker bourbon whisky, American Star vodka, Silver Lightning moonshine, single malt whisky and rye.

President and master distiller Steve Gertman explained in a recent interview that their products are infused with other local goods including fruit and rare caviar limes. Strawberries, for example, from nearby Santa Maria are used in Ascendant’s strawberry vodka the same day they are picked.

Gertman’s interest in crafting liquors started after his very first whiskey tasting while on a trip to Scotland. Since then, his love for the drink has only appreciated. “I’ve learned,” he writes on his website, “one thing that unites many different people around the world is a love for fine whisky.”

Speaking on the building of the Ascendent brand, he writes, “It was surreal the first time I saw our whisky, Breaker Bourbon, on the shelf at El Rancho,” Gertman says on Ascendant’s website. “I felt and still feel a great sense of pride and achievement that my dream had become a reality. I haven’t regretted my decision to take this journey, even at the darkest moments. I get intense satisfaction in creating a beautiful product that people enjoy. And I also get to be a mad scientist, creating new flavor combinations.”

They currently offer tastings Friday-Sunday each week. Be sure to visit the distillery on your next visit to Santa Ynez Valley!


For more foodie guides to the Santa Ynez Valley, read about artisan cheese, craft beer, brunch spots and, of course, wine.

Between our Starting Gate Restaurant, Winner’s Circle Lounge, room service, pool-side service and holiday specials, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott also knows a thing or two about food and beverages. Next time you stay, be sure to start or end your day with a meal by our talented team of chefs and cooks.

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Cheese, please! A Guide to Artisan Cheese in Santa Ynez Valley

Beyond the rolling hills of California wine country, there’s a lot of happiness spreading thanks to artisan cheese farms and shops popping up across California. A perfect match to the region’s first love, wine, the specialty of craft of artisan cheese is entering a new era in Santa Ynez Valley.

Image via matchmywine.com

Image via matchmywine.com

Artisan Cheese in Santa Ynez Valley

So what exactly is “artisan” cheese?
Artisan cheese is made by hand, using the craftsmanship skills of traditional cheese makers. It is the old-school, slow, small-scale creation of cheese.

What makes artisan cheese special?
Each artisan cheese undergoes a specific aging and ripening process in order to achieve certain aesthetics including a more developed flavor and texture. As a result, the cheeses are more complex in their taste and variety, reflecting the environment they were produced in.

Where in Santa Ynez Valley can the trend be found?
A number of businesses, including the recently opened Santa Ynez Valley Cheese Company are proud carriers of artisan cheese. Here are just a few of Santa Ynez Valley’s best options:

Santa Ynez Valley Cheese Company
If you’re not a cheese lover yet, owners Russ and Kristin Collins promise to make you one by the time you leave their newly opened shop! Located in downtown Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Ynez Valley Cheese Company is a new favorite among locals. Currently selling artisan cheese and cured meats, the Collins family has plans to one day produce and sell their own brand of artisan cheese thanks in large part to their own herd of sheep.
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Follow SYV Cheese Company on Facebook and read more about their journey here.

Los Olivos Grocery
The Los Olivos Grocery store is perhaps one of the best kept secrets when it comes to artisan cheese in Santa Ynez Valley. Offering an array of cheeses from around the world, the grocery store also has a cheese course available to teach you everything you need to know on how to become a connoisseur.
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The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is thrilled to play host to your California foodie adventures. From wine to cheese, our staff is prepared to help you plan the perfect outings to experience the taste of Santa Ynez Valley. Book our Santa Ynez Valley Grapeline Wine Tour Package for a carefree day in the Santa Ynez Valley hosted by a wine country insider, room accommodations and lots of foodie extras upon arrival in your room.

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Craft Beer in Santa Ynez Valley

For the past month, the Santa Ynez Valley has been engulfed in the merry, yeast-filled celebration otherwise known has Santa Ynez Valley Craft Beer Month. Perhaps most celebrated for its wine-soaked hills, the towns of SYV have increasingly become known as a place for artisan brews, flight tastings and craft brew festivals as well. Craft Beer Month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean pint glasses need be put away for the next 11 months.

Here’s a quick guide to experiencing and enjoying craft beer in Santa Ynez Valley:

SYVbeermap

SYV Beer Trail Map – When on a mission, it’s always best to have a game plan. The Santa Ynez Valley Beer Trail Map is the perfect one-stop shop for planning all your brewing adventures. Created by VisitSYV.com, the map gives the lay of the land with breweries, brew shops and more, broken down by town. Download your free map today.

 

 

Solvang Brewing Company – Located in Solvang, the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang Brewing Company is where Danish tradition, craft beer and delicious food come together. With deep roots in the community, including one founding owner who is a fourth generation Solvang born Dane, local pride is a staple here. They brewing company also recently won a Gold Medal in the San Diego International Beer Festival competition.

Valley Brewers – Everything you need for DIY libations, Valley Brewers specializes in home brew, wine and cheese making supplies.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. – Run by a father/son team, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. has an affinity for top tier beers, particularly those that showcase the unique flavors of the Santa Ynez Valley. Their beers have one numerous awards at the Denver International Beer Competition, Los Angeles International Beer Festival, World Beer Cup and World Beer Championships to name a few. Stop in at their Buellton taproom or Los Olivos tasting room for firsthand experiences!

Firestone Walker Brewing Company – A three time Great American Beer Festival winner and 4 time World Beer Cup champion, Firestone Walker Brewing Company is serious about creating quality brews. The company has come a long way from its first days as a small brewery and now serves the entire Central Coast region of California. For those wanting to learn the ins and outs of their processes, complimentary, guided tours of their brew house and cellar are offered daily.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe – Captured in the Oscar-award winning film, Sideways, Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe has been a must-stop for wine, beer and food lovers since its opening in 1995. Lunch and dinner menus are updated seasonally to capture the tastes of the central Californian coast and beer and wine tastings are available daily until 5 pm.

easyJackFirestoneWalker1Journeys can be taxing – which is why the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott invites you to relax inside our comfortable, spacious walls before, during and after your trip down the SYV Beer Trail. Sleeping in won’t be difficult thanks to our Marriott Revive beds and complimentary wireless Internet, over-sized work desks, sofas, easy chairs and mini-refrigerators mean the comforts of home are never too far away. And even if you don’t make it through the brew map, local favorites including Firestone Walker Brewing and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. are available on-site in our Winner’s Circle LoungeBook your trail-blazing stay now!

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Brunch in the Santa Ynez Valley

Can we agree that life would be better if every day included a leisurely brunch? For most of us, brunch remains a weekend-only pastime, but fortunately, the Santa Yenz Valley has no shortage of delicious spots to make the most of it.

Next time you’re in the area, here are a few spots to brunch in the Santa Ynez Valley:

Starting Gate Restaurant
Inside the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, the options are yours for the taking at Starting Gate Restaurant. From a breakfast buffet with made-to-order omelets, eggs, crisp bacon, waffles, cereal and granola to modern classics like French toast, huevos rancheros, 3-egg omelets with the freshest ingredients and piping hot coffee and juice, there’s no way you’ll leave hungry – or unsatisfied.

Vineyard House Restaurant TheVineyardHouse_SYVblog
Located in a 1907 Victorian home, Vineyard House Restaurant is surrounded by gardens and views of the area’s surrounding mountains. Under the shade of century-old pepper trees, brunch on frittatas, crab benedict, French toast, steak and eggs, fresh salads, pasta and pizza. This is a place that brings all the best of California to the table.

Café Quackenbush
Don’t be fooled by the small menu, this café and gallery is a Los Alamos treasure that excels in sandwiches (pulled pork, oven-roasted turkey) and daily soups alike. And that’s not to say that breakfast items including brioche French toast, omelets (ham and brie, Dungeness crab) are to be missed. Sit among artwork in the gallery, inside the café or outdoors with a view of historic Los Alamos.

Fresco Valley Café
FrescoValleyCafe2_syvblogLocated in the Danish-haven of Solvang, Fresco Valley Café prides itself on fresh, organic, sustainable Californian cuisine. From scrumptious breakfast sandwiches and their quiche-of-the-day to hearty breakfast burritos and scrambles, they live up to their sustainable goal by using only local free range organic eggs. Top the meal off by sipping fresh cappuccinos, mimosas and bellinis under the patio’s umbrellas and you’ll definitely be glad that you got out of bed that morning.

Mother Hubbard’s Restaurant
If you want to dine where all the locals are, round up your crew and head to Mother Hubbard’s Restaurant. Located in Buellton, this diner is a family affair with options for days. From family favorites listed on the menu to griddle vittles and omelets galore, this is a home cooking kind of place where, with time, everybody knows your name.

Paula’s Pancake House
PaulasPancakes_syvblogCharles and Paula Greenwald have been serving breakfast to the Santa Yenz Valley for three and half decades. It was with Paula’s Pancake House, opened in 1986, that Danish pancakes became their calling card. Committed to exceptional food quality, fresh ingredients and genuine hospitality, their breakfast is served all day.

Our Starting Gate/ Winner’s Circle Restaurant is just one example of the pride we put into serving the needs of our guests. No matter the time of day, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is prepared to help make your stay the best we possibly can. Book your stay now to discover the many delicious side of SYV tomorrow.

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A Wine and Cheese Pairing How-to for the Holidays

Santa Ynez Valley Style

The holidays are upon us which most likely means you’re at least two drafts into guest lists and menus for an upcoming festivus get-together. Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, we love a good wine and believe, as tradition tells, that there are few better things to pair it with than cheese. We’ve created a mini pairing how-to for holiday events and even threw in a few beer options to ensure you’re covered when it comes to family and friends and their spirit of choice.

A wine and cheese pairing party by Alchemy Fine Events.

A wine and cheese pairing party by Alchemy Fine Events.

A few basic wine pairing principles:

Go White
When it comes to wine and cheese pairings, people tend to think red, but truth be told, white is where it’s at. As local winery, Bridlewood Estate Winery and Laura Werline, an award-winning author and authority on cheese, share, “Compared to reds, white wines, like Chardonnay, work better with most cheeses. Most people don’t like to hear this, but I promise you, it’s true.” The lack of tannins (textural elements like grape seeds, grape skins and oak that make wine taste dry) along with white wine’s lively acidity usually make it the better choice.

If Red, Go Light or Old
Just in case you insist, No way, no how can I go through the holidays without a glass of red wine – may we suggest you look for a lighter, older one? A light, low-tannin wine like a Beaujolais is a great choice. Just make sure to pick one that has had time to age because (vino nerd-alert) tannins mellow over time.

Pair like with like
Just as when you plan a meal and pair lighter wines with lighter foods and heavier wines with heavier foods, so too, light cheeses like goat cheese, tend to pair nicely with a crisper, lighter wine. The rule also applies to beer and cheese: pair mild with mild and intense with intense.

Pair From the Same Region
When in doubt, make this your go-to trick.

Salty with Sweet
A winning combo in all fields of food, the salty taste of a blue cheese and even some washed rind cheeses beautifully balance the sweetness of dessert wines.

Rich and Creamy with Bubbles
Champagne or any sparkling wine paired with a rich, creamy cheese is a great pleasure – and that’s what the holidays are for, right?

 

A few brew & wine pairing cheat sheets:

Image via matchmywine.com

Image via matchmywine.com

Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the American Dairy Association (ADA) partnered to create a simple guide (originally found at BeerAdvocate.com):
Sharp Cheddar with Pale Ale
Feta with Wheat Beer
Mascarpone with Fruit Beer
American Cheese with Pilsner
Colby with Brown Ale
Gorgonzola with Barleywine
Gruyére with Bock Beer
Swiss Cheese with Octoberfest Beer
Parmesan with Amber Lager

Wisconsin Cheese has two brilliant and easy online pairing tools that allow the user to pick a wine, beer or cheese which the tools then match to a smorgasbord of pairing options: Cheese Cupid
Wisconsin Cheese Pairing Tool

 

Thanksgiving Buffets in Santa Ynez
Santa Ynez Valley Marriott loves to entertain and this Thanksgiving, we welcome you into our home. Reserve you and your family’s places at our Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet now and let the worry of feast-making to-dos disappear. Our Starting Gate restaurant will be preparing a chef-carved turkey, prime rib of beef, baked ham, poached salmon, jumbo shrimp, a pasta bar, a variety of Mediterranean and local salads and delicious desserts. Reservations are required, so please call (805) 688-1000 to reserve a table. For more information, visit us at syvmarriott.com.

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Santa Ynez Valley Brings on the Bacon!

Santa Ynez Bacon CelebrationIf the mere thought of bacon cooking causes your mouth to water reminiscent of Pavlov’s pups…

If your most heartwarming childhood memories include Sunday mornings with mom cooking up that ultimate comfort food…

Then the Santa Ynez Valley, a bacon mecca in its own right, has the key to make your bacon dreams come true! The home of world-class vintages and craft beer adventure is now taking bacon-fever to a new level…because yes, even bacon pairs well with wine!

Bacon-philes unite!

Bacon and Barrels Saarloos and SonsBacon And Barrels – Imagine an entire festival dedicated to cutting edge bacon concoctions and amazing cocktails to compliment them. As the bacon craze is reaching legendary status, that is just what the Santa Ynez Valley has in store Friday – Sunday July 19-21. The weekend kicks off with an all bacon dinner under the stars in Los Olivos. Followed by Saturday’s main event, at Saarloos and Sons Field, featuring the hottest chefs from the finest local restaurants preparing dishes starring bacon in its most inventive forms. The best mixologists, brewers, and wineries will quench your thirst with refreshing bacon-based and bacon-inspired cocktails and brews. Live music will be provided by the  Mother Corn Shuckers, an 8 piece acoustic Bluegrass/Americana band based out of the Central Coast of California. Bacontrepreneurs and bacon-friendly brands will exhibit their wares and even a piggy petting zoo will be on hand. Celebrity Judges will award the ‘Jefe del Porko’ award to the Top Chef and Mixologist of the day for achievement in the bacon arts.  It is destined to be a raucous, rockin’ good time for all. Sunday wraps up the bacon bonanza, so don’t leave yet! Cruise around the Santa Ynez Valley with your Bacon & Barrels wristband for deals on food, wine tasting, and more.  Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.Tickets availability is extremely limited so don’t hesitate! **Non-drinker tickets only available to date.

Santa Ynez Valley MarriottMake it a relaxing getaway and extend the bacon celebration with a stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Allow our attentive staff and soothingly sophisticated yet rural atmosphere envelop you in a rejuvenating getaway. Keep in the bacon spirit as you ease into your day with our Green Chile Buellton Burrito or the The Santa Ynez Omelet from  the Starting Gate Restaurant, where innovative recipes of the Santa Ynez Valley to bring you inspiring cuisine. Perhaps then indulge poolside with the Marriott Burger featuring 100% Angus chuck, aged cheddar and served with onions and yes…crisp bacon. Highlighting local produce, house-made ingredients and a selection of wines from local vintners, our selections will encourage you to indulge your palate. Finally unwind in the Winners Circle Lounge with a wide selection of Santa Ynez Valley wines and micro brews to complete your day. Click here to book your stay today!

wide selection of Santa Ynez Valley wines, micro brews – See more at: http://www.syvmarriott.com/santa-ynez-valley-dining#sthash.47KYuWqZ.dpuf
wide selection of Santa Ynez Valley wines, micro brews – See more at: http://www.syvmarriott.com/santa-ynez-valley-dining#sthash.47KYuWqZ.dpuf
Innovative recipes pare with the bounty of the Santa Ynez Valley to bring you unique cuisine to inspire and delight your senses. Local produce, house-made ingredients and a selection of wines from local vintners will encourage you to indulge your palate.
 

Innovative recipes pare with the bounty of the Santa Ynez Valley to bring you unique cuisine to inspire and delight your senses. Local produce, house-made ingredients and a selection of wines from local vintners will encourage you to indulge your palate.
 

 

 

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Pressing Matters in the Santa Ynez Valley

Olive Oil Tasting Santa Ynez Valley

The Santa Ynez Valley Tasting Trifecta:  Wine, Craft Beer…and Olive Oil

Chances are, most Santa Ynez Valley visitors have delighted in the offerings of regional world class vintages and brews from local wineries and craft breweries, yet there is another fascinating tasting adventure that affords your taste buds a reason to celebrate in the valley. Olive oil! Like wine and craft beer, this magnificent treasure comes in a wide and distinctive range of varieties and flavors. So also parallel to wine and craft beer, a  true tasting experience is indispensable in order to fully understand and appreciate it.

Ready for a little Olive Oil 101…

Why  Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Known in American kitchens as EVOO, extra virgin is an internationally recognized standard that designates the highest quality olive oil. It is produced by cold pressing, a process that extracts the oil without chemicals or excessive heat. The oil must pass rigid standards and taste specifications as determined by a certified tasting panel. Extra virgin olive oil is not filtered (which often in mass produced oils, introduces chemicals to the product). Although filtering does extend the shelf life by removing any actual bits of olive, which will ferment and cause the oil to spoil, it also diminishes the flavor in doing so. With that in mind, extra virgin olive oil is allowed to ‘rest’ in air-tight, steel tanks for a couple of months after crushing to allow some of the fruit particles and remaining water to settle to the bottom of the tanks and let the oil’s flavor mellow and stabilize. The oil is then taken from the top of the tank throughout the year ensuring a fresh supply of oil for bottling.  A few producers bottle a small portion of their new oil directly from the mill after pressing.  This olio nuovo or new oil is available only in late November through the early part of Winter and is often accompanied by a seasonal celebration at the mill.  It is the freshest and finest extra virgin olive oil available – brilliant green and the essence of olive oil goodness!

occoThe typical “extra virgin” olive oil you find in the supermarket today is an industrial product that has been heavily processed and is often labeled strictly for marketing rather that actual content. Since there is no real label enforcement through the USDA or FDA, it is helpful to be educated in label decoding. California, though, does adhere to an Extra Virgin Certification program that ensures quality. Bottles that are marked with the‘COOC’ seal are guaranteed certified.

 

What makes Olive Oils taste differently?
Olive Oil Santa Ynez Valley

Four main factors account for the variety of flavors:

  • type of olives – borrowing from wine tasting 101: varietals of olives offer distinctive flavors.  Producers can make their oil from single variety of olive, or a blend to create interesting and unique flavor combinations.
  • ripeness of olives – early harvested green olives tend to have ‘grassier’ flavors, while the later harvested darker olives tend to have ‘buttery’ ones. Additionally, a shorter gap between harvest and processing will produce a fresher, stronger oil.  Olives harvested late, in January or even February, will produce a darker, milder oil.13331566-branch-with-green-olives
  • growing and harvesting conditions – climate, soil and harvesting techniques all impact olive oil flavor. Many producers pick their olives by hand to avoid bruising. The olives are then pressed within 24 hours of being picked because like all fruit, they will begin to ferment, which will lessen the quality.
  • oil storage – exposure to heat, light, and oxygen can also impact olive oil taste. Light is very damaging to olive oil, as is heat; so unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. It starts out most pungent, and then softens over time, until it finally turns. Your best bet is to keep your oil in a cool, dark place.

Which brings us to taste. Ranges vary from delicate and buttery, to fragrant and fruity, to  olive-y and peppery, or leafy green and grassy. With this in mind, the logical place for an olive oil education to unfold is with tasting. All the reading in the world isn’t going to mean a thing unless you can connect it to the sensory experience—the aroma and taste of olive oil. The Santa Ynez Valley is host to a distinctive array of hand pressed olive oil farms, making it the ideal location to taste, learn, gather recipe ideas and explore the health benefits of this ‘other’ Santa Ynez Valley fruit. Check out the olive oil experiences the valley has to offer:

Jazz & Olive Oil Festival Los OlivosSanta Ynez Valley’s charming town of Los Olivos is hosting its Annual Jazz & Olive Festival, Saturday, June 8, at Lavinia Campbell Park from 1-4pm.  Enjoy all things olive paired with world class, professional jazz, fine wine tasting from 20 local wineries, vendor booths from over 10 regional olive oil producers, professional chefs cooking demonstrations, an amateur cook-off, great home-made food and the ambiance of one of the most charming small towns in America.  Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Olivos and benefiting local charities, the festival celebrates the growing contributions of the Santa Ynez Valley’s olive producers. Rumor is that this event ALWAYS sells out…so don’t miss out! Tickets include a free souvenir wine glass and plate, and are available for $50 each, from local Rotarians, at the Book Loft in Solvang, Coghlan Vineyard & Jewelers, the General Store in Los Olivos, Lucas & Lewellen Tasting Room in Solvang and Pea Soup Andersons’s in Buellton, by calling 805-325-9280,  or on-line. Tickets can be held for you at Will Call or mailed to you if you order early enough.

The local Olive Oil community in the Santa Ynez Valley is abundant. Some of the offerings include:

 

  • Olive Hill FarmOlive Hill Farm – Employing certified organic farming techniques as well as the solar power, Olive Hill Farm takes pride in producing some of the finest olive oils available as well as balsamic vinegars, wine vinegars, truffle oils, table olives, and other gourmet food products.
  • Rancho OlivosRancho Olivos – Sustainably growing olive trees which produce their award winning handcrafted gourmet olive oils.
  • Global Gardens Los Olivos Global Gardens – featuring olive oil from some of the most renowned groves on the planet, including countless Gold Medal Winners, Global Gardens also offers home-made fruit balsamic vinegars, organic mustards, organic snacks and other local California food items made in their kitchens.

For a memorable getaway, consider arriving early to visit the Los Olivos art galleries and shops, and tour the Santa Ynez Valley’s beautiful rolling hills,horse ranches, and vineyards. The Annual Summer Wine Pass Event is just kicking off and is the only ticket you’ll need this summer to enjoy fabulous wine tasting at the premier boutique wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley. Learn the ropes, tips for tasting and while in the Valley take advantage of an excellent opportunity…

Summer Wine Tasting Pass Santa Ynez Valley
It’s Summer Pass time!
One Pass – One Price – 13 Wineries!

The pass (available online for $40 and on-site for $45), includes one wine tasting flight (usually 4-5 wines) at each of the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association participating tasting rooms (a $130 value). You choose the dates anytime between May 1 and August 31. There are no reservations required and no blackout dates. Your pass will expire when you’ve tasted at all 13 wineries or on August 31, 2013 – whichever occurs first.

The Summer Wine Pass participating wineries include: Alexander & Wayne in Los Olivos, Buttonwood Farm Winery, Casa Cassara in Solvang, Cimarone & 3CV Wines, Daniel Gehrs Wines, Imagine Wine in Santa Ynez, Lincourt Vineyards on the Amamo Pintado, Lucas & Lewellen, Rideau Vineyard, Standing Sun Wines in Buellton, Toccata Wines and Toretti Family Vineyards.

syv-logo2Make it a true custom getaway and book your stay at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Enjoy the unspoiled, relaxing charm of the valley and all it has to offer. The Los Olivos Olive & Jazz Festival as well as the Summer Wine Pass are just two of the many adventures waiting for you in the unforgettable Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the Starting Gate Restaurant, on-site at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, for cooked to order wood-fired pizza on the patio made with fresh, local ingredients,house-made dough and sauce on Wednesdays and Fridays, 5-8pm. Pair with a wide variety of local vintages and craft brews for a memorable summer evening meal.

 

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Santa Ynez Valley Sipping into Spring

The vines have been sleeping through the cool, dark winter months in the Santa Ynez Valley and now as their buds awaken, the dreams of promising new vintages unfold. Local vintners emerge revitalized and ready to pour…

Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival 2013 Santa Ynez Valley

Celebrate the arrival of spring in the Santa Ynez Valley with a fabulous immersion into more than fifty varietals and over one hundred, world-acclaimed wineries.  Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival 2013 Santa Ynez Valley An annual rite of spring, the Vintner’s Festival held on April 19 – 22, returns to Mission Santa Ines in Solvang where it was born 30 years ago! What started as a small food and wine event for the locals in order to raise funding to print a visitors map of the 13 local wineries, has evolved into pure world-class wine bliss paired with homegrown gourmet flavor featuring celebrated local chefs and culinary professionals. The four day celebration features live music by Donna Greene & the Roadhouse Daddies and The Rock ‘n’ Blues Band, a silent auction benefiting People Helping People and complimentary hand and arm massages from Massage Therapy in Old Town Orcutt. Whether your wine appreciation status is novice or sommelier, the Santa Ynez Valley’s Vintner’s Festival embraces all…join a community of food and wine for the ultimate sip and savor event of spring.

Santa Barbara Vintner's AssociationHosted by the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association, the main festival takes place Saturday afternoon but the celebration runs Friday through Monday with many wineries offering tastings of library wines and barrel samples, vineyard barbecues, winemaker dinners, wine & food pairings, cellar lunches and open houses and discount specials. Local Santa Ynez Valley restaurants are also in on the festivities as well with participating wineries pouring at the eateries.

Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival 2013 Santa Ynez ValleyVintner’s Festival 2013 local food participants include: Avant Tapas & Wine, New West Catering, Stafford’s Famous Chocolates, Babé Farms, The Olive House, Starting Gate Restaurant at the Santa Ynez Valley MarriottBacara Resort & Spa, Panera/Ventura Café, Trattoria Uliveto, Cattaneo Brothers, Petros, The Willows Restaurant, Il Fustino, El Rancho, Valley Grind, Luna Olivo and Rancho Olivos.

 

Santa Barbara County Vintner's Festival 2013 Santa Ynez ValleyVintner’s Festival 2013 participating wineries:

  • Ampelos is offering a 10% discount on wines.
  • Andrew Murray Vineyards is offering a 10% discount on any wine purchases. Friday 11 – 2, features a Blending Seminar with Winemaker Andrew Murray with the chance to learn about the process of blending and have the opportunity to blend your own bottle of wine, followed by a catered lunch (limited to 25 people). Saturday, 11-4 join the Spring Release Party and celebrate the launch of Andrew Murray’s new label This is E11even. Plus try all the new Andrew Murray Vineyards releases with music, food, and wine discount specials.
  • Au Bon Climat & Qupé 11- 3 offers an open house featuring library wines, current releases, and bargain wines. Wine from many of their labels will be presented including Au Bon Climat, Qupé and more during this special event as the winery is only open twice yearly to the public.
  • Baehner-Fournier at Bin 2860 is featuring a 20% discount on all current wines.
  • Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, Sunday at 10:30 is featuring a Vineyard Walk & Brunch with winemaker, Karen Steinwachs and soil guru Stan Katoda. Featuring a hike through the 39-acre estate vineyard with stops to taste various varietals, check out the progress of 2013 bud break, chat about soils, cane pruning and insight into why they grow wine and farm the way they do. To celebrate both Vintners’ Festival weekend and Earth Day Eve, they’ll conclude the walk with brunch at the vineyard pond and raise a glass in toast to the upcoming vintage!
  • Brander is hosting an open house Saturday 12-4pm with special wine tastings, BBQ and music.
  • Clos Pepe is hosting a Barrel Tasting and Bubble Bash, opening their winery in Lompoc Sunday 11-3 for a rare barrel-tasting and educational opportunity with wine educator and winemaker Wes Hagen. If you’ve ever attended a wine education event with Wes Hagen, you know his straight-forward, passionate delivery of the most interesting geeky tidbits in the world of wine. Taste current releases, the Homage to Chablis Chardonnay (the first stainless SRH Chardonnay, now in its 12th vintage), the rare Clos Pepe Estate Brut Rosé sparkling wine (the first SRH labeled bubbly), library wines and have the chance to take some of these rare bottles home with you. Barrel Tasting at the top of every hour: noon, 1 and 2 pm.
  • Dascomb Cellars offers 10% off any purchases and Friday 4-7 in their tasting room in the heart of Solvang, barrel tasting and cheese pairing with winemaker David Dascomb.
  • Demetria offers Visa holders a 10% discount with a purchase of 3 bottles or more.
  • Dierberg offers Visa holders a 10% discount on all wine purchases.
  • Fiddlehead Cellars, Sun 11-5, features Tasting in the Cellar with Kathy in the Lompoc ‘Wine Ghetto’! Highlighted with goodies on the grill, lively tunes (get out your dancin’ shoes!), Kathy and Rob behind the bar, and stories of travels near and far! Featuring a taste of their new releases – ‘Goosebury’ Sauvignon Blanc, ‘Pink Fiddle’ Rose of Pinor Noir and ‘728’ Fiddlestix Pinot. To top it all off, they may even give you a taste of the sparkling wine ‘Bubbles’. You will love the special deals offered Sunday only. Another Fiddlehead party not to be missed!
  • Flying Goat Cellars is hosting their Annual Winemakers Dinner, Friday at La Purisima Mission. Experience a food and wine pairing that you will never forget when winemaker Norm Yost collaborates with Bouchon Santa Barbara proprietor Mitchell Sjerven. Chef Greg Murphy complements a selection of our wines with his unique culinary creations. The evening begins with a sparkling wine reception in the mission garden, followed by an intimate dinner in La Sala, where seating is limited to 40 guests. An adjacent room is available for a private party up to 10-12 guests. Sunday from 11-4, join Flying Goat Cellars in launching a Bubbles Bar at the tasting room with an flight offering of all four Goat Bubbles sparkling wines: Rosé, Crémant, Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs. Winemaker Norm Yost will be pouring some of his finest vintages of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and sparkling wines. His recently-released 2012 Pinot Gris is flying out the door so get it while you can. We will also have light snacks and other surprises so be sure to come by!
  • Foxen is hosting and Open House Saturday and Suday 11-4. Be sure to stop by the tasting rooms for light hors d’oeuvres and special library wines. Also, Saturday at 6pm, a Winemaker Dinner at Alisal Guest Ranch is offered. Join Dick, Billy, Jenny and Becky for another fun-filled evening! For reservations call 805.937.4251. Sells out quickly!
  • Huber Cellars is offering Visa holders 10% discount on purchases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and 25% on case purchases.
  • Kalyra is featuring their 2nd Annual “Around the World” Wine & Food Pairing Sunday noon – 3pm. Spend a jazzy afternoon at Kalyra Winery as you explore the winery and tasting room following a specific route of stations that pair a full flight of Kalyra wine with artisan cheeses, meats and desserts. This event, introduced last year to their blooming roster of fun events, became an instant hit with guests!
  • Kenneth Volk, Saturday adn Sunday 10.30-4.30 features Open House Specials, Magnum Tastings, Pre-releases and light appetizers are featured this weekend.
  • Longoria is hosting a Winemaker Dinner with Chef Budi Kazali and Winemaker Rick Longoria for their annual celebration of food and wine at The Ballard Inn Restaurant, Sunday noon – 3. Space is very limited and sells out quickly.
  • Lucas & Lewellen & Toccata are each featuring their annual Vintner’s Festival Wine & Cheese Pairings with live music and wine specials, Saturday 5-8pm, no RSVP is required.   Also, Saturday evening 6pm, they are hosting a Winemaker Dinner at The Petersen Inn A featuring the cuisine of Chef Mini Dalfuoco paired to exciting new Lucas & Lewellen and Toccata wine releases. Reserve your place early to avoid the wait list.
  • Margerum’s owner Doug Margerum will be cooking up a three-course dinner for 48 people which will be paired with a selection of their wines. The evening will begin with barrel tasting and reception featuring their new Rosé. Dinner will take place among the barrels in our winery. This is a great chance to tour the facility not normally open to the public and interact with their team in an intimate setting.
  • Melville is hosting an Open House Saturday and Sunday 10-4, with pourings from their small lot collection and serving artisan cheeses and savory treats prepared by Lynn Sigafoos. Complimentary tours by reservation will also be offered at 11:30 1pm. Then at 6 pm, join winemaker Greg Brewer and the Melville family for an intimate five course dinner that will be paired with selections from their library and current release wines. Reservations are required.
  • Oreana Winery is featuring a Weekend Winedown with live music on the patio, Saturday and Sunday 2 -5pm, and 10% off purchases with Vintner’s Visa.
  • Point Concepción Wines will be open on Sunday 10-4 for a special opportunity to taste their current vintages and chat with winemaker Peter Cargasacchi.They are only open to the public three times a year, so come and take advantage! They are also offering a 10% discount with Vintner’s Visa.
  • Rancho Sisquoc is featuring  light appetizers and a 15% discount on any case purchase for Vintner’s Visa holders.
  • Rideau is host to a Vintners Festival Mardi Gras in a true New Orleans tradition. Iris will prepare of her famous Cajun/Creole inspired food that will be paired with newly released Rideau wines. Dance to the sounds of live Jazz, Funk and Blues that will fill the air. This is one event you won’t want to miss starting Saturday 11.30am!
  • Stolpman Vineyards is featuring an Educational Vineyard Tour, Tasting and Lunch in the beauty of Ballard Canyon. Join Pete, Tom and Ruben for an educational vineyard walking tour, followed by a tasting of our new releases and boxed picnic lunch Sunday at 11am. Also enjoy 10% off bottle purchases and 25% off case purchases for Vintner’s Visa holders.
  • Tercero Wines offering Visa holders a 10% discount on all purchases.
  • Zaca Mesa features live music from Sean Wiggins Sunday 10-4 in their courtyard. Epicurean Cowboy will be grilling up something amazing you can buy for a picnic. Wine by the glass available.

Explore the wide range of ticket options available for purchase on line: Vintner’s Festival, VIP Early Entry, Vintners Visa Voucher, Combo Ticket, Ultimate Combo Ticket, and Designated Driver.

Vintner’s Festival 2013 Getaway

Santa Ynez Valley MariottSpring into the season with a celebration of vintages and culinary delight. Book your stay for the 4 day Vintner’s Festival at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. As one of the featured Vinter’s Festival culinary participants, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott’s own Starting Gate Restaurant features local selections prepared daily by Chef Ofelio’s culinary team.

 

 Later in the month, join us at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott for our chef’s special 2013 Easter Buffet. Santa Ynez Valley Marriott Easter BrunchClick here to view our 2013 Easter Buffet menu. Reservations are recommended and are available for seatings at 11:00am and 1:00pm. Highlights include omelets & Belgian waffles made to order, eggs benedict, mango shrimp with tropical fruit relish, smoked orange glazed salmon, chef carved prime rib and much more!

 

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Awaken your Appetite in the Santa Ynez Valley

 

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott The New Year is in full swing and with this comes both renewed purpose and the awakening of fresh adventure.

Consider a bit of culinary adventure to start 2013 off  and what better place to begin than the bountiful Santa Ynez Valley.

Truly a delicious destination, the Santa Ynez Valley and its charming circle of small towns:  Buellton, Los Olivos, Solvang, Ballard, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez, is a food lover’s utopia.  From inspired and eclectic wine country cuisine to authentic California coastal temptations, a true culinary adventure awaits. Fresh ingredients from local farms, innovative menus from inspired chefs, and of course, pairings with local vintages, the options are sure to delight any palate.

 

restaurant-week-graphic-largeCelebrate this culinary exploration of the Santa Ynez Valley with the Annual Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week 

Welcoming delightful new flavors this year, restaurants throughout the Santa Ynez Valley are offering special 3-course tasting menus for $20.13 in honor of the New Year! (excluding tax, tip and beverages).  Review the featured menu choices on-line and choose your favorites. Reservations are highly recommended. The participating restaurants this year include:

 

 

Ballard Inn Restaurant, Buellton, 805-688-7770

Avant Tapas & Wine, Buellton,805-686-4742

Starting Gate Restaurant at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, Starting Gate Restaurant Santa Ynez Valley MarriottBuellton; 805-688-1000 *To make it a culinary getaway, see below and book a relaxing stay while enjoying your epicurean adventure!

 

Bell Street Farm Eatery, Los Alamos, 805-344-4609

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, 805-688-7265

Petros at Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn, Los Alamos, 805-686-5455 (lunch only)

Dos Carlitos Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Santa Ynez; 805-688-0033

Ranch and Reata Roadhouse, Santa Ynez, 805-691-9663

Trattoria Grappolo, Santa Ynez, 805-688-6899 (lunch only)

The Willows at Chumash Casino Resort, Santa Ynez, 805-686-4152

Fresco Valley Café, Solvang, 805-688-8857

Hadsten House Inn Restaurant, Solvang 805-688-3210

Mirabelle Inn & Restaurant, Solvang 805-688-1703

Root 246, Solvang; 805-686-8681

Succulent Café & Trading Post, Solvang, 805-691-9444

 

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott“This is a wonderful time to experience the bounty and flavors of Santa Ynez Valley, the heart of Santa Barbara’s Wine Country. Visit long-time favorites as well as our newest restaurants. And of course, select some local wines or beers to go with your meal!” Kady Fleckenstein, Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, Executive Director.

 

 

 restaurant-week-graphic-starting-gateMake it a culinary getaway and book a refreshing start to 2013 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott while enjoying your epicurean adventure! Take advantage of Restaurant Week’s special offerings and enjoy a lunch or dinner sampling of local chef’s cuisine. Santa Ynez Valley Marriott’s own Starting Gate Restaurant is participating, the perfect place to start Restaurant Week, right at your door!

Book your stay today and join the Loyal Locals Dining Rewards Program offered exclusively by the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Eat. Drink. Earn rewards. Satisfy your palate and earn points towards dining, overnight stays, discount offers and free gifts each time you dine at the Starting Gate Restaurant, Winner’s Circle Lounge, and Lobby Lounge at the Santa Ynez Marriott.

 

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