Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Under the Oaks

"The festival is limited to fifty wineries this year, so if you see more than that listed on the website I've cheated," says Meridith Moore, Events Manager at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. "What's important is there's no wine I wouldn't drink." That's quite an endorsement from Moore, who has been the wrangler for the museum's Santa Barbara Wine Festival the past several years. (As for how they scored the primo name, it's because they were there first, kicking the event off in 1983; yes, you could have sung "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" to your hangover after the first one and been au courant.)

Want to read the rest then do so at the KCET blog.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In the Court of the Master Sommelier Kings

Earning the title Master Sommelier isn't merely some puffed-up honorific -- it's kind of like passing the bar (no pun intended), as fewer than 200 candidates have aced the three-part exam in 40 years. The documentary SOMM, which hits theaters June 21st after a handful of festival and sneak preview screenings, follows a cohort of men (more on that in a bit) prepping for and taking the arduous exam. In the tradition of Spellbound and Kings of Pastry and Air Guitar Nation, SOMM has the thrill of a built-in "who will succeed amongst the obsessive?" narrative thrust that's undeniably gripping. But it's equally fascinating to consider what it reveals about the world of wine and those expert enough to serve it to us at the ritziest of places. You're not going to find a Master Sommelier breaking out his latest value play at the Fish-Meat Village down the block, let's put it that way. No, they end up with titles like United States Ambassador to Krug Champagne.

Want to read the rest then do so at the KCET blog.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sausage on State

A business meeting at the Starbucks across from Paseo Nuevo led to one of downtown’s newest eateries, Hoffmann Brat Haus. John Mullen, one of seven partners in the business, noticed the Snack Shack had already closed after only two months — turned out its owner had planned to move to Santa Barbara from Napa, and despite investing much money, his wife decided she didn’t want to leave Napa. “I think this is one of the best properties in Santa Barbara,” Mullen, former owner of Northstar Coffee, claims. “So within 10 days, I had an offer accepted.”

Want to read the rest then do so at the Indy's site.

Failla Wines: The Anti-Napa

Sitting on the pleasant porch of a venerable old farmhouse along Napa's famed Silverado Trail this May, it seemed a bit of a surprise that the red wine I swirled in my tasting glass wasn't Cabernet Sauvignon, the valley's king grape. Nope, this was Pinot Noir, and a very Burgundian one at that. But I was tasting at Failla Wines (pronounced FAY-la, and it's Italian, or more accurately, Sicilian), and the wine was made by Ehren Jordan, who has made a habit of not being habitual. For 18 years he was the winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars, best known for their bodacious yet beautiful Zinfandels -- my friends and I used to joke the Turley Moore-Earthquake Vineyard got its name because it pushed almost 17% alcohol in some vintages, and was sure to register seismically upon you the day after (especially since it tasted so balanced you'd drink plenty of it). Jordan was also a partner and winemaker at Neyers Vineyards, but has been slowly building up his own winery -- named after his wife Anne-Marie Failla, who runs the business end -- and as of February is devoting himself totally to it, even if that it means less than 5,000 cases a newsletter (the best way to get the wines).

Want to read the rest then do so at the KCET blog.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Beasts At Tablas Creek

A sheep's bleat is no mere mild-mannered "Baa." It's insistent, full of needy vibrato. Imagine a few dozen of them at it, and the din almost turns into a horror movie soundtrack, but that doesn't seem to faze Levi Glenn, viticulturist at Tablas Creek Vineyard, who is standing amidst the flock, plus a couple of donkeys, and a few more aloof alpacas. As part of a recent Meet the Vineyard Animals event at the Paso Robles winery, Glenn led the tour, and got into the pen to fed the eager ruminants, who were up on their hind legs trying to jam their heads into his feed bucket. "If we get to a hundred sheep, then 50% of the mowing will be done by them," he explains. That helps keep the vineyard organic -- no need for Round-up when the sheep chomp the weeds -- and saves on hand-mowing, too.

Want to read the rest then do so at the KCET blog.