Spring Sparkles in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties with fun events

As the weather warms, wine predators everywhere are headed to outdoor wine festivals, tastings, and activities as well as picnics in the park on the beach.

As luck would have it, today is a Saturday and my 12th wedding anniversary –which means silk, linens, and pearls! Oysters anyone? Plus it’s Earth and Poetry month. So how should a wine predator poet celebrate?

Fortunately, I have several wonderful wine options!


Today in Ventura is “Champagne on Main”  which starts with a free Spring Street Fair from 10-5pm downtown Main Street with vendors and live entertainment. Then from 1:30-4:30 pm, the Champagne on Main Wine Walk showcases Champagne, Sparkling Wines, and Craft Beer sampling using a Wine Walk wristband, tasting cup, and a map of the participating tasting sites throughout Downtown Ventura. Tickets are still available and cost $50.

But after our son’s Little League game, we’re headed to Santa Barbara’s Alameda Park for Earth Day festivities including dancing to Upbeat and Spencer the Gardener followed by a very special Sea and Farm to Table dinner. This very special event is being held in the park and is sold out –but I will share details on twitter today and here down the road!

Organized by the Community Environmental Council, the “Eat Local Dinner” on Saturday, April 18 features the artistry of Jeff Olsson, Executive Chef and owner of New West Catering and Industrial Eats, in a menu centered around local, seasonal ingredients from Fairview Gardens and complemented by local seafood from The Cultured Abalone Farm and other sustainable sources. The 4-course, family-style meal includes wine pairings from Buttonwood Farm Winery. A pre-meal reception includes Jun Brewery, Mattole Valley Naturals, beer from Firestone Walker Brewing Co., and local artisan treats.

I heard Jeff Ollson speak at the 2014 Wine Blogger’s Conference, and I’ve enjoyed his food there and at Industrial Eats in Buelton. Wow! The menu for this multi-faceted, elegant mostly vegetarian dinner with wine pairings have been specially selected for each course includes:

Hors d’Oeuvres: Sautéed Dos Pueblos Abalone on Truffled Duck Egg, Sea Urchin with Citrus and Sea Salt Fairview Gardens Strawberries Buttonwood Farms Almonds with Jun Brewery, Full Spectrum Green Lemonade, and Firestone 805.

COURSE III Bruschetta of Fresh Fava Bean Hummus with Tat Soi and Rock Crab, Roasted Turnips and Lacinato Kale with Chimichurri, Braised Collard Greens with Pancetta and Kohlra –with 2010 Buttonwood Grenache Syrah.

I’m really excited to experience such a vegetable centered meal as so often my go to for wine is red meat!

If we’re still in the celebrating mood, Sunday April 19, 2015 Ventura’s Wine Cave is hosting a  Joseph Phelps 5 Course Wine Dinner  by  new Executive Chef Brandon Worrell.

Napa Valley Jospeh Phelps died two days ago at the age of 87; he made his mark with over 40 years of innovative and solid wine-making as well as leadership in the area making Napa what it is today

The cost for the Joseph Phelps dinner at the Ventura Wine Cave is $99 per person plus tax and gratuity. Courses include Lobster & Peas (Butter Poached Lobster Tail, English Pea Puree, Serrano Ham, Lemon Verbena, Pea Tendrils)  paired with Joseph Phelps, Chardonnay, “Freestone Vineyards” 2012, then two meat courses Roasted Lamb Loin with Joseph Phelps, Pinot Noir “Freestone Vineyards” 2012 and a Prime NY Strip Loin with Joseph Phelps, Cabernet Sauvigon Napa Valley, 2012 and Joseph Phelps Insignia 2011.

Or simply go in and toast the master! Joseph Phelps Insignia, 2011 will also be available  for purchase by the ounce on the Enomatic machine.

The Ventura Wine Company is located in the industrial area of Ventura, home to a number of wineries and breweries: 4435 McGrath St. #301 Ventura, CA 93003. For reservations, call immediately: 805-642-9449. Info@venturawineco.com

Next weekend, on Saturday April 25 from 1-4pm,  is the 33rd Annual Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Festival at the River View Park in Buellton. Taste wine from more than 120 Santa Barbara County wineries, sample food from regional food purveyors, see art from local artists, and enjoy outstanding live music. General admission tickets are $75. Definitely worth the trip up from Ventura or LA! They also have buses running from Santa Maria and Santa Barbara– you could even take the train up and then ride the bus! www.sbvintnersweekend.com

The Spring Festival kicks off on Friday, April 24, 2015, from 7 – 10:00pm at Mattei’s Tavern, in Los Olivos with a  traditional La Paulee style dinner party. In the La Paulee tradition, attendees are requested to bring their favorite Vintage 2009 or older wine from Santa Barbara County or beyond to share. A welcome reception will be held al fresco, followed by dinner, served family style. Twelve Santa Barbara County winemakers will be seated among all the tables to ensure lots of interesting wine conversations: Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyards, Tyler Thomas; Qupe Wine Cellars & Verdad Wine Cellars, Bob Lindquist & Louisa Lindquist; Turiya Wines, Angela Soleno; Dascomb Cellars, David Dascomb; Presqu’ile Winery, Matt Murphy or Dieter Cronjie; Imagine Wine, Ross Rankin; Rusack Vineyards, Steven Gerbac; Melville Winery, Chad Melville; Martellotto Wines, Greg Martellotto. I’ve attended many events where the winemakers sit with attendees and it is really a wonderfully intimate experience–one that money just can’t buy. Price: $100 per person, plus 15% gratuity.

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