Show 508, January 21, 2023: Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks with Shelby Sim, President / CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley

Shelby Sim of the Santa Ynez Valley

“The Santa Ynez Valley’s creative culinary culture has long been at the heart of its wine country experience, but its wide range of flavors are never more accessible than during Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks.”

Restaurant Weeks has returned for the 13th consecutive year, January 16-31, once again showcasing the region’s culinary bounty — and the perfect Santa Ynez Valley wines to pair with it — with a variety of special three-course prix fixe price menus.”

“The restaurants that participate in Santa Ynez Valley’s annual festival of flavor feature curated, chef-driven, three-course menus at price points of $30, $40, or $50, plus tax and gratuity. Many of the region’s wineries and tasting rooms also participate at various levels, offering two-for-one tastings, special tasting flights, and discounts on bottle purchases.”

“Restaurant Weeks brings foodies together each year for an affordable, immersive culinary experience,” said Shelby Sim, President/CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The region’s wines are typically what come to mind first when thinking about the Santa Ynez Valley. But Restaurant Weeks showcases our gifted local chefs and their diverse and inspired culinary creations in a way that is accessible to most everyone.”

For the latest updates on Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, including menus and participating restaurants, wineries, and tasting rooms, visit their Restaurant Weeks website.

Shelby Sim is our guest highlighting Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks.

Later in the year is Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley 2023. The four-day, six town celebration of food, wine, and more takes place September 28th through October 1st across the towns of Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Ballard, and Buellton.

Show 498, November 5, 2022: Marco Longinotti, Chef de Cuisine, Nella Kitchen & Bar, Los Olivos Part One

Marco Longinotti of Nella Kitchen and Bar at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn

Opened in September 2020, Nella Kitchen & Bar (the sister restaurant of S.Y. Kitchen Cucina Rustica in Santa Ynez) located adjacent to the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos offers fresh, modern Cal-Italian cuisine showcasing local ingredients and focuses on ‘Roman Pinsas’. It is under the culinary direction of Executive Chef / Partner Luca Crestanelli and Chef de Cuisine, Marco Longinotti.

“Meals are served on the front porch overlooking Grand Ave in Los Olivos where guests are warmly welcomed, or in the cozy Dining Room which also has a private, handsomely appointed Wine Room that can host family seating and private parties.”

Cocktails (artfully prepared) are serious here and focused on classics and served in the Lounge with ample bar seating. Chris Hewes, formerly barman at some top LA spots (like the Library Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel), is now pouring at Nella. He also offers a tight selection of popular zero-proof cocktails / mocktails. Consider a house specialty, Green Mile, with cucumber, lime and ginger beer. Refreshing…

Chef Marco Longinotti takes a break from his busy kitchen to join us.

Show 498, November 5, 2022: Marco Longinotti, Chef de Cuisine, Nella Kitchen & Bar, Los Olivos Part Two

Marco Longinotti of Nella Kitchen and Bar at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn

Opened in September 2020, Nella Kitchen & Bar (the sister restaurant of S.Y. Kitchen Cucina Rustica in Santa Ynez) located adjacent to the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos offers fresh, modern Cal-Italian cuisine showcasing local ingredients and focuses on ‘Roman Pinsas’. It is under the culinary direction of Executive Chef / Partner Luca Crestanelli and Chef de Cuisine, Marco Longinotti.

“Meals are served on the front porch overlooking Grand Ave in Los Olivos where guests are warmly welcomed, or in the cozy Dining Room which also has a private, handsomely appointed Wine Room that can host family seating and private parties.”

Cocktails (artfully prepared) are serious here and focused on classics and served in the Lounge with ample bar seating. Chris Hewes, formerly barman at some top LA spots (like the Library Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel), is now pouring at Nella. He also offers a tight selection of popular zero-proof cocktails / mocktails. Consider a house specialty, Green Mile, with cucumber, lime and ginger beer. Refreshing…

Chef Marco Longinotti takes another break from his busy kitchen to continue with us.

Show 497, October 29, 2022: Gleason Family Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley with Callie Gleason & Winemaker Max Marshak Part One

Callie Gleason Bieszard of Gleason Family Vineyards

Gleason Family Vineyards (GFV) is the corporate umbrella for 3, separate, distinct wineries located in the Santa Ynez Valley under the leadership of two generations of the Gleason Family. Their Winemaker is Max Marshak. The properties are Roblar Winery & Vineyard, Refugio Ranch Vineyards, and their most recent acquisition, the historic Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard. Director of Marketing Callie Gleason and Winemaker Max Marshak join us to pull the cork on both Refugio Ranch Vineyards and Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard. in Solvang.

“Located at 2990 Grand Avenue and Hwy 154, Refugio Ranch is a 415-acre estate located in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA of California’s Central Coast. Within the property, covered largely by old oak trees, twenty- six select acres were mindfully planted and have been well cared for by the Gleason Family. Refugio Ranch represents a centuries-old history of cowboys and cattle ranching. The native land has been left largely untouched but for the vines that the land itself nurtures and readies for harvest. The Gleasons believe it is “terroir” or that sense of place, that gives a wine its soul.”

“The charming town of Los Olivos, CA was founded in the late 1800’s as the southern terminus of the Pacific Coast Railroad. Many historic buildings from that era still stand in Los Olivos today, including the present home of the Refugio Ranch Vineyards Tasting Room. The building was built circa 1912 as the warehouse for the Pinal-Dome Refining Co. (later Union Oil) where the tank cars from the railway were filled.”

“The Gleasons have taken great care to preserve the structure and spirit of this slice of history. The early 1900’s warehouse is now home to Refugio Ranch’s two tasting bars, a VIP lounge and an expansive outdoor deck ~ making it one of the largest tasting rooms in Los Olivos.” There is convenient on-site parking as well as accommodating restrooms.

“Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard (and Farm) is a small gem set amidst the splendor of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. The farm is a shining example of the vision of its late founder, Betty Williams. Betty was always ahead of her time, and in the 60’s set out to create a working farm based on good practices for people, animals and the earth. First there were horses, then organic vegetables and finally, a vineyard.”

“Today, the 42-acre vineyard (now owned by Gleason Family Vineyards) stretches across a sun-drenched mesa on the eastern portion of the 106-acre property. Buttonwood started planting in 1983 and now have 38,000 vines, small in the world of wine, but huge to Buttonwood. The on-site tasting room is surrounded by other bounty from the farm, including olives, pomegranates, peonies, herbs, summer vegetables and of course, their famous peaches!” Adding a farm-focused, limited menu under the culinary direction of Executive Chef Peter Cham is on the immediate horizon.

Show 497, October 29, 2022: Gleason Family Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley with Callie Gleason & Winemaker Max Marshak Part Two

Gleason Family Vineyards (GFV) is the corporate umbrella for 3, separate, distinct wineries located in the Santa Ynez Valley under the leadership of two generations of the Gleason Family. Their Winemaker is Max Marshak. The properties are Roblar Winery & Vineyard, Refugio Ranch Vineyards, and their most recent acquisition, the historic Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard. Director of Marketing Callie Gleason and Winemaker Max Marshak continue with us to pull the cork on both Refugio Ranch Vineyards it’s Tasting Room in Los Olivos and Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard.

“Located at 2990 Grand Avenue and Hwy 154, Refugio Ranch is a 415-acre estate located in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA of California’s Central Coast. Within the property, covered largely by old oak trees, twenty- six select acres were mindfully planted and have been well cared for by the Gleason Family. Refugio Ranch represents a centuries-old history of cowboys and cattle ranching. The native land has been left largely untouched but for the vines that the land itself nurtures and readies for harvest. The Gleasons believe it is “terroir” or that sense of place, that gives a wine its soul.”

“The charming town of Los Olivos, CA was founded in the late 1800’s as the southern terminus of the Pacific Coast Railroad. Many historic buildings from that era still stand in Los Olivos today, including the present home of the Refugio Ranch Vineyards Tasting Room. The building was built circa 1912 as the warehouse for the Pinal-Dome Refining Co. (later Union Oil) where the tank cars from the railway were filled.”

“The Gleasons have taken great care to preserve the structure and spirit of this slice of history.  The early 1900’s warehouse is now home to Refugio Ranch’s two tasting bars, a VIP lounge and an expansive outdoor deck ~ making it one of the largest tasting rooms in Los Olivos.” There is convenient on-site parking as well as accommodating restrooms.

“Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard (and Farm) is a small gem set amidst the splendor of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. The farm is a shining example of the vision of its late founder, Betty Williams. Betty was always ahead of her time, and in the 60’s set out to create a working farm based on good practices for people, animals and the earth. First there were horses, then organic vegetables and finally, a vineyard.”

“Today, the 42-acre vineyard (now owned by Gleason Family Vineyards) stretches across a sun-drenched mesa on the eastern portion of the 106-acre property. Buttonwood started planting in 1983 and now have 38,000 vines, small in the world of wine, but huge to Buttonwood. The on-site tasting room is surrounded by other bounty from the farm, including olives, pomegranates, peonies, herbs, summer vegetables and of course, their famous peaches!” Adding a farm-focused, limited menu under the culinary direction of Executive Chef Peter Cham is on the immediate horizon.

Show 459, January 22, 2022: Michael Larner, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager, Larner Vineyard & Winery, Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley Part One

Micheal Larner of Larner Vineyard and Winery

Larner Vineyard & Winery established in Ballard Canyon in 1999 is truly a family affair operated by two generations of the Larner Family. It’s a California Certified Organically farmed estate. Tradition and passion guide the meticulous farming of 34 acres of Rhone varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier as well as the Italian variety, Malvasia Bianca. Limited annual productions of handcrafted quality wines define this boutique winery.

The Larner Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room is located in historic downtown Los Olivos and is open daily. Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Michael Larner’s wife, Christina, is the Retail Manager and also runs the adjacent Los Olivos General Store.

“Driven to find a family property they could all share in winemaking, founders Christine and Stevan Larner came to the Santa Ynez Valley. When they first set eyes on the property in Ballard Canyon in 1995, they knew this was their route to a family legacy. Christine still lives on the property but Stevan passed away in 2005. Stevan Larner was an Oscar-nominated, Emmy winning cinematographer who spent much of his early career in Europe where he first learned to love wine.”

“When the couple found the ranch property in Ballard Canyon, they set about clearing the land to plant vineyards in a place that had never before been cultivated. It was amazing to see the land toiled by machines, and analyze the soil and weather. Son Michael Larner took care of all the soil and geology matters, and the land told the family what to plant: Rhône varietals. And the rest is history.”

“Winemaker & Vineyard Manager Michael Larner earned his Master’s Degree in Viticulture & Enology at the University of California, Davis and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His formal training in wine continued with cellar apprenticeships at Marchesi Antinori’s Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Bolgheri, Tuscany) and E. Guigal’s Château d’Ampuis (Rhône Valley, France). He previously worked with Santa Ynez-based wineries Babcock Winery and Rusack Vineyards. He has been making wine since 1999.”

“Michael is co-founder of the Ballard Canyon AVA and recently served as president of this newly-founded AVA (American Viticulture Area). Ballard Canyon is one of our nation’s smallest AVAs and is focused on the production of quality Syrah.”

“Michael’s sister, Monica Larner, is a wine writer based in Rome. Following ten years as Italian Editor with Wine Enthusiast, she now reviews Italian wine for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. Monica takes a smaller role at the winery, but continues to contribute her knowledge in the final wines: from blends to aging time.”

Michael Larner is our guest to gently pull the cork on all that is Larner Vineyard & Winery.

Show 459, January 22, 2022: Michael Larner, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager, Larner Vineyard & Winery, Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley Part Two

Micheal Larner of Larner Vineyard and Winery

Larner Vineyard & Winery established in Ballard Canyon in 1999 is truly a family affair operated by two generations of the Larner Family. It’s a California Certified Organically farmed estate. Tradition and passion guide the meticulous farming of 34 acres of Rhone varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier as well as the Italian variety, Malvasia Bianca. Limited annual productions of handcrafted quality wines define this boutique winery.

The Larner Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room is located in historic downtown Los Olivos and is open daily. Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Michael Larner’s wife, Christina, is the Retail Manager and also runs the adjacent Los Olivos General Store.

“Driven to find a family property they could all share in winemaking, founders Christine and Stevan Larner came to the Santa Ynez Valley. When they first set eyes on the property in Ballard Canyon in 1995, they knew this was their route to a family legacy. Christine still lives on the property but Stevan passed away in 2005. Stevan Larner was an Oscar-nominated, Emmy winning cinematographer who spent much of his early career in Europe where he first learned to love wine.”

“When the couple found the ranch property in Ballard Canyon, they set about clearing the land to plant vineyards in a place that had never before been cultivated. It was amazing to see the land toiled by machines, and analyze the soil and weather. Son Michael Larner took care of all the soil and geology matters, and the land told the family what to plant: Rhône varietals. And the rest is history.”

“Winemaker & Vineyard Manager Michael Larner earned his Master’s Degree in Viticulture & Enology at the University of California, Davis and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His formal training in wine continued with cellar apprenticeships at Marchesi Antinori’s Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Bolgheri, Tuscany) and E. Guigal’s Château d’Ampuis (Rhône Valley, France). He previously worked with Santa Ynez-based wineries Babcock Winery and Rusack Vineyards. He has been making wine since 1999.”

“Michael is co-founder of the Ballard Canyon AVA and recently served as president of this newly-founded AVA (American Viticulture Area). Ballard Canyon is one of our nation’s smallest AVAs and is focused on the production of quality Syrah.”

“Michael’s sister, Monica Larner, is a wine writer based in Rome. Following ten years as Italian Editor with Wine Enthusiast, she now reviews Italian wine for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. Monica takes a smaller role at the winery, but continues to contribute her knowledge in the final wines: from blends to aging time.”

Michael Larner continues as our guest to gently pull the cork on more about the Larner Vineyard & Winery.

Show 388, August 29, 2020: Jeff Nelson, Founder & CEO, Liquid Farm, Lompoc

Jeff Nelson of Liquid FarmJeff Nelson is the Founder and CEO of Liquid Farm with their distinctive Tasting Room in Los Olivos and the Winery in Lompoc.

“We seek to support local viticulture and honor our palates’ love for old world wines that have naturally high acidity and are not masked by many of the modern-day manipulations.”

“To do so, we selfishly decided to make what we most love to drink: Chardonnay that is earth and mineral driven from cool climates with little or no new oak. To achieve these qualities we were drawn to one of the coolest of all California AVA’s, Sta. Rita Hills. Located in Santa Barbara County, it is home to some of the most Chardonnay-suited, unique, ancient soils in North America.”

“From the climate and soil, to the people and their wines, the Santa Ynez Valley is certainly one of the most special regions we have ever come across.”

“Often said, but very true, all great wine starts in the vineyard. Our project’s name reflects our strong belief in that philosophy. It is truly all about place in combination with the highest quality fruit and letting the varietal and regional TYPICITY of the wine shine through from vineyard to glass…Liquid from Farming.”

“We allow the wines to develop on their own with little intervention, minimal or no new oak and use no additives or machines to manipulate the wines inherent personality. The project is also committed to blending from the handful of special vineyards we work with in the small AVA of Sta. Rita Hills to produce a collection of Chardonnays that are markedly different expressions, but with the same thread of intense minerality and salinity they started with in the vineyard.”

The Liquid Farm collection also includes a Rose of Mourvedre and “SBC” Pinot Noir. James Sparks is the Winemaker.

“Jeff Nelson has been in the wine business for the past 20+ years, working for some of the top Champagne and Burgundy houses. With the name Liquid Farm on Jeff’s mind for many years, it was the catalyst in 2009 for starting the project with the helping guidance of Brandon Sparks-Gillis of Dragonette Cellars.”

Jeff Nelson gently pulls the cork for us on all things Liquid Farm.

Show 277, June 16, 2018: Executive Chef John Cox, The Bear and Star, Los Olivos, CA

John CoxLos Olivos’ The Bear and Star under the spirited culinary direction of Executive Chef John Cox, serves “Refined Ranch Cuisine” with flair inspired by the Parker family at the eponymous Fess Parker Wine Country Inn. The restaurant utilizes proteins (think Wagyu beef and lamb) and vegetables sourced from the nearby Parker Ranch, an incredible resource. The Bear and Star serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and is both a destination and a favorite of the wine-loving locals.

“The Bear and Star takes its name from the two states our founder called home – Texas and California – celebrating refined ranch cuisine paired with California’s bounty. The restaurant is intrinsically intertwined with the 714-acre Fess Parker Home Ranch seven miles away where the Wagyu cattle herd are raised and finished with the spent grains and pomace from the family brewery and winery. Also raised on the ranch are chickens, quail, rabbits, pigs and bees along with a number of heirloom fruits and organic vegetables for use at the restaurant.”

Chef John even has an eye-catching test hydroponic garden growing at The Bear & Star.

The Bear and Star’s Executive Chef/Partner John Cox (The Cowboy Chef) joins us with the enticing profile.

Show 261, February 17, 2018: Executive Chef John Cox, The Bear and Star, Los Olivos

John CoxLos Olivos’ The Bear and Star, serving “Refined Ranch Cuisine” inspired by the Parker family at the eponymous Fess Parker Inn, continues their collaborative Chef’s Table Dinners with Chef Neal Fraser of Los Angeles’ Redbird on Sunday, February 25, 2018. The five-course tasting dinner championing Southern California restaurant talent, staged in the state-of-the-art Chef’s Room, blends products raised on the Parker ranch with inspiration from Los Angeles County.

“The Bear and Star takes its name from the two states our founder called home – Texas and California – celebrating refined ranch cuisine paired with California’s bounty. The restaurant is intrinsically intertwined with the 714 -acre Fess Parker Home Ranch seven miles away where the Wagyu cattle herd are raised and finished with the spent grains and pomace from the family brewery and winery. Also raised on the ranch are chickens, quail, rabbits, pigs and bees along with a number of heirloom fruits and organic vegetables for use at the restaurant.”

The Bear and Star’s Chef/Partner John Cox joins us with the enticing preview.