Monday, April 23, 2012

Wine tasting in Santa Barbara County at the Carranza

Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival 2012

The word "Carranza" might be from a Basque surname, possibly derived from the words for "big rock," but I will always associate it with drinking wine in a cow pasture in 90+ degree heat. That's not really a bad thing when the wines are from Santa Barbara county and you have over a hundred vintners to choose from though. 

Wine enthusiasts carefully maneuvered major ruts, holes, and the odd cow-pie on Saturday to meet Santa Barbara county vintners, taste their wines, and enjoy great food and music.  The Festival was held at The Carranza on the outskirts of Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley.  The grounds are very scenic, surrounded by rolling hills dotted with old oak trees.  I'll just have to wear my boots the next time.
L-R top:  Blackjack, Carr, J Ludlow
L-R bottom:  Rarus, Cambria, TreAnelli

There were over a hundred wineries proudly pouring their latest vintages. The best part about the festival was finding vintners who don't have their own tasting rooms and have limited distribution.  Of course, many of the well-known, larger wineries from Santa Barbara county were there as well.
L-R top:  Lafond, Presquile, Mosby
L-R bottom:  Tantara, Silver, Tantara
It was a warm day with temperatures in the 90s and most people were looking for chilled white or rosé wines to taste. A few wineries were even chilling their red wines in an effort to keep them in the range of what "room temp" is normally.  Others were serving their red wines at warmer than optimal temperatures.
Decanting is good, and in this heat chilling red wine is a good idea too!

Grassini Family Vineyards pouring the 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
A few of the new wines I enjoyed were from Ampelos Cellars, Tre Anelli, Grassini Family Vineyards, J Ludlow Vineyard, Mosby Winery & Vineyards, Presquile Winery, and Silver Wines.  Some interesting wines that I'm familiar with included Au Bon Climat, Cambria, Carr, Jaffurs Wine Cellars, Lafond Winery & Vineyards, Melville Winery, Rusack, Rancho Sisquoc, and Tantara. There were so many wines being poured it was easy to find something interesting!

Cookies from Panera Bread, melon drink from The Willows, frozen syrah sorbet from the Epicurean Cowboy
A wide variety of gourmet food was served and most of it was great! There was something for everyone with restaurants and caterers like The Epicurean Cowboy, Hitching Post II Restaurant, Panera Bread, Rooney’s Irish Pub, Root 246, The Willows, and Zaca Ranch Cafe serving up samples that paired well with wine.
Hitching Post smokey BBQ with mushrooms and carrots

Red hot pickin from Burning James
Burning James & the Funky Flames, a funk n soul powered combo from the California Central Coast, performed some great numbers during the first half of the day.  Click here for a video of the band playing "Nasty Habits."

Wine tasters - out standing in the field
At the end of the day I picked up a Gruner Veltliner "green vine" (from Vintage Nurseries, courtesy of Allan Hancock College), to complete the wine experience.  It was a great time overall and I'm looking forward to more adventures tasting the wines of Santa Barbara county!

Prodigal looked like a no show, but I'm sure they'll return...

Contact CoonToonStudios to download hi-res pictures of this event.