Show 439, August 21, 2021: Gretchen Voelcker, Winemaker, Piazza Family Wines and Winemaker / Owner Luna Hart Wines Part One

Gretchen Voelcker of Piazza Family Wines

“After falling in love with the Santa Ynez Valley, Ron and Nancy Piazza looked for a place to retreat from the city and call home for almost 30 years. They longed to have a ranch to share their love of the land with their family and friends.”

“When they found what is now called Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon they immediately knew it was home. Living among the vines and with sweeping views of Ballard Canyon, Ron and Nancy decided to begin Piazza Family Wines in 2018. With the production facility just a short walk down a well-trodden dirt path they hand crafted the first vintage from their estate.”

Winemaker, Gretchen Voelcker (also Winemaker for her own label, Luna Hart Wines,) knows the importance of the vines and spends the entirety of the year working with esteemed Vineyard Manager, Ruben Solerzano to grow grapes that allow for natural wines to be made using minimal intervention.

“The Piazza’s officially launched the brand in November of 2020 with a range of six wines from their Bella Vista estate vineyard in Ballard Canyon and their sister vineyard Mount Carmel in Sta. Rita Hills. They are focused on honest organic farming, natural winemaking and highlighting the land through their wines.”

“The Bella Vista Vineyard is producing Grenache, Syrah, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano and Sangiovese; while the sister vineyard, Mt. Carmel, is producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These wines are stunning and elegant yet racy with true varietal definition.”

“As winemaker at Piazza Family Wines, Gretchen is responsible for the entire process, from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle. With a focus on organic fruit and ingredients, she spends more time in the vineyard than most winemakers. Her vision is to produce minimal interference wines from her favorite grapes, showcasing the fruit purely and precisely. Inspired by gifted winemakers and driven by her own independent spirit, Gretchen pays strict attention to every detail and focuses on the craft of making wine the natural way.”

Winemaker Gretchen Voelcker pulls the cork on Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart Wines for us.r us.

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Show 439, August 21, 2021: Gretchen Voelcker, Winemaker, Piazza Family Wines and Winemaker / Owner Luna Hart Wines Part Two

Gretchen Voelcker of Piazza Family Wines

“After falling in love with the Santa Ynez Valley, Ron and Nancy Piazza looked for a place to retreat from the city and call home for almost 30 years. They longed to have a ranch to share their love of the land with their family and friends.”

“When they found what is now called Bella Vista Vineyard in Ballard Canyon they immediately knew it was home. Living among the vines and with sweeping views of Ballard Canyon, Ron and Nancy decided to begin Piazza Family Wines in 2018. With the production facility just a short walk down a well-trodden dirt path they hand crafted the first vintage from their estate.”

“The Piazza’s officially launched the brand in November of 2020 with a range of six wines from their Bella Vista estate vineyard in Ballard Canyon and their sister vineyard Mount Carmel in Sta. Rita Hills. They are focused on honest organic farming, natural winemaking and highlighting the land through their wines.”

“The Bella Vista Vineyard is producing Grenache, Syrah, Graciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano and Sangiovese; while the sister vineyard, Mt. Carmel, is producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These wines are stunning and elegant yet racy with true varietal definition.”

“As winemaker at Piazza Family Wines, Gretchen is responsible for the entire process, from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle. With a focus on organic fruit and ingredients, she spends more time in the vineyard than most winemakers. Her vision is to produce minimal interference wines from her favorite grapes, showcasing the fruit purely and precisely. Inspired by gifted winemakers and driven by her own independent spirit, Gretchen pays strict attention to every detail and focuses on the craft of making wine the natural way.”

“Gretchen also has her own label, Luna Hart Wines, with grapes sourced from her favorite, hand-picked vineyards. It’s a boutique wine company specializing in small batch, handcrafted wines also in the Santa Ynez Valley. Gretchen crafts select wines in which she explores the techniques and nuances that continue to stoke her passion for wine.”

Winemaker Gretchen Voelcker continues with us pulling the corks on both Piazza Family Wines and Luna Hart Wines for us.

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Show 437, August 7, 2021: Thomas Birkholm, Baker, Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe, Solvang Part One

Thomas Birkholm of Birkholm's Bakery and Cafe

Birkholm’s Bakery & Café in Solvang was founded by Carl “Cookie” Sr. and Charlotte Birkholm in 1951. 2021 celebrates the 70th Anniversary of this local institution. The Birkholms have been baking as a family and passed the recipes and techniques from generation to generation. In 1980, Carl Jr. and Elizabeth Birkholm stepped in to carry on the tradition of baking in Solvang. Carl continues to use the original Danish recipes that “Cookie” brought over from Denmark.

In 2012, son Carl “Thomas” returned to Birkholm’s and the Santa Ynez Valley with the desire to learn and continue the business like his Grandfather “FarFar” and Father had done before him. Thomas is the 3rd generation of Birkholm bakers in Solvang and with the Family he is carrying forward the proud baking tradition.

All of Birkholm’s baked goods are made from-scratch using the original recipes. They are known for their Danish All of Birkholm’s baked goods are made from-scratch using the original recipes. They are known for their Danish Butter Cookie Tubs containing nine varieties of cookies. On average they sell some 600 tubs per week. The Café serves an appealing variety of fresh salads and made-to-order sandwiches on house-baked breads. (Think Black Forest Ham with Swiss.)

Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe on Alisal Road remains family-owned and operated in picturesque Solvang promising to provide the personal touch “old-school.” “Committed to helping our customers achieve their sweet dreams with only the best to eat.”

3rd generation baker Thomas Birkholm joins us rolling pin in hand.

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Show 437, August 7, 2021: Thomas Birkholm, Baker, Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe, Solvang Part Two

Thomas Birkholm of Birkholm's Bakery and Cafe

Birkholm’s Bakery & Café in Solvang was founded by Carl “Cookie” Sr. and Charlotte Birkholm in 1951. 2021 celebrates the 70th Anniversary of this local institution. The Birkholms have been baking as a family and passed from generation to generation. In 1980, Carl Jr. and Elizabeth Birkholm stepped in to carry on the tradition of baking in Solvang. Carl continues to use the original Danish recipes that “Cookie” brought over from Denmark.

In 2012, son Carl “Thomas” returned to Birkholm’s and the Santa Ynez Valley with the desire to learn and continue the business like his Grandfather “FarFar” and Father had done before him. Thomas is the 3rd generation of Birkholm bakers in Solvang and with the Family he is carrying forward the proud baking tradition.

All of Birkholm’s baked goods are made from-scratch using the original recipes. They are known for their Danish All of Birkholm’s baked goods are made from-scratch using the original recipes. They are known for their Danish Butter Cookie Tubs containing nine varieties of cookies. On average they sell some 600 tubs per week. The Café serves an appealing variety of fresh salads and made-to-order sandwiches on house-baked breads. (Think Black Forest Ham with Swiss.)

Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe on Alisal Road remains family-owned and operated in picturesque Solvang promising to provide the personal touch “old-school.” “Committed to helping our customers achieve their sweet dreams with only the best to eat.”

3rd generation baker Thomas Birkholm continues with us whisk in hand.

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Show 405, December 26, 2020: Chef Lincoln Carson of Merite Bake Shop and Coast Range Restaurant, Solvang Part One

Lincoln Carson of Bon TempsWhen we last spoke with Chef Lincoln Carson he had just launched (as Chef & Partner) the ambitious Bon Temps Los Angeles restaurant located next to the Firehouse Hotel in the Arts District adjacent to Downtown Los Angeles. Unfortunately the critically acclaimed Bon Temps was an early victim of COVID 19’s devastating impact on the dining scene in Los Angeles.

Fortunately it’s been a busy year for Chef Lincoln nonetheless. In November Lincoln launched the Merite Bake Shop in Boise, Idaho. It’s a virtual kitchen bakery located at Crave Collective under the umbrella of Crave Delivery. It’s delivery and takeout with premium breakfast pastries and decadent desserts.

Chef Lincoln, a resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, is back in California to launch the Coast Range Restaurant in Solvang. It’s a premier California costal seafood and steakhouse with a spacious patio and the Vaquero Bar (with a separate menu.) Lincoln’s partners are Chef Anthony Carron (800 Degrees and Top Round) and Chef Steven Fretz (Top Round and Church Key.) It’s a labor of love for each of the culinary participants. All are alums of the San Francisco-based Michael Mina Restaurant Group.

At Coast Range Restaurant Chef Lincoln will focus on the menu for the Lunch Café and daytime pastry program.

Chef Lincoln joins us with whisk securely in hand.

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Show 405, December 26, 2020: Chef Lincoln Carson of Merite Bake Shop and Coast Range Restaurant, Solvang Part Two

Lincoln Carson of Bon TempsWhen we last spoke with Chef Lincoln Carson he had just launched (as Chef & Partner) the ambitious Bon Temps Los Angeles restaurant located next to the Firehouse Hotel in the Arts District adjacent to Downtown Los Angeles. Unfortunately the critically acclaimed Bon Temps was an early victim of COVID 19’s devastating impact on the dining scene in Los Angeles.

Fortunately it’s been a busy year for Chef Lincoln nonetheless. In November Lincoln launched the Merite Bake Shop in Boise, Idaho. It’s a virtual kitchen bakery located at Crave Collective under the umbrella of Crave Delivery. It’s delivery and takeout with premium breakfast pastries and decadent desserts.

Chef Lincoln, a resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, is back in California to launch the Coast Range Restaurant in Solvang. It’s a premier California costal seafood and steakhouse with a spacious patio and the Vaquero Bar (with a separate menu.) Lincoln’s partners are Chef Anthony Carron (800 Degrees and Top Round) and Chef Steven Fretz (Top Round and Church Key.) It’s a labor of love for each of the culinary participants. All are alums of the San Francisco-based Michael Mina Restaurant Group.

At Coast Range Restaurant Chef Lincoln will focus on the menu for the Lunch Café and daytime pastry program.

Chef Lincoln continues with us rolling pin in hand.

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Show 363, March 7, 2020: Folded Hills, Winery, Farmstead and Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley Part One

Kim Busch of Folded Hills“In 2017, Andy and Kim Busch started a business in their 50’s which they knew nothing about. Andy, coming from a long line of beer barons, had worked not in the beverage business but rather at Grant’s Farm, the original prototype for the Busch Gardens parks started by his father, Gussie. Folded Hills Winery, Farmstead, Ranch focuses on top notch wine making rather than beer.”

“The Busch’s own Folded Hills, a working ranch, an integrated sustainable farm is located just outside of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. When they purchased a contiguous piece of farming property they learned that the original farmsteader had planted a pre-prohibition vineyard and made wine in the basement of his farmhouse.”

“The Busches had purchased the property to keep the land agricultural in general and organic in particular and in 2014 decided to start farming organic grapes alongside the 18 acres of organic row crops, stone fruits, and animals.”

“As they were deciding what grape varietals to plant everyone told them to “plant what they love to drink”. Andy loves beer – that was no help- although they do have a small patch of hops growing. Kim loved Pinot Noir but the terroir would not grow a quality Pinot. They settled on the Rhône varietals which they knew absolutely nothing about. Now the hillsides are rolling with grape vines of syrah, grenache, Clairette blanc, grenache blanc and marsanne.”

Tasting Rooms are located at the vineyard estate in Gaviota and on Old Coast Highway in Montecito.

Proprietress Kim Busch and General Manger Tymari Lore are our guests and gently pull the cork on the unusual story of Folded Hills Winery for us.

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Show 363, March 7, 2020: Folded Hills, Winery, Farmstead and Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley Part Two

Tymar Llore of Folded Hills“In 2017, Andy and Kim Busch started a business in their 50’s which they knew nothing about. Andy, coming from a long line of beer barons, had worked not in the beverage business but rather at Grant’s Farm, the original prototype for the Busch Gardens parks started by his father, Gussie. Folded Hills Winery, Farmstead, Ranch focuses on top notch wine making rather than beer.”

“The Busch’s own Folded Hills, a working ranch, an integrated sustainable farm is located just outside of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. When they purchased a contiguous piece of farming property they learned that the original farmsteader had planted a pre-prohibition vineyard and made wine in the basement of his farmhouse.”

“This is a heart project for the Busches and they wanted to bring some of their mid-West roots and family heritage to the project. Many of the wines have names that harken back to their iconic St. Louis history.”

“Their award- winning Lilly Rosé is named for six generations of Lilly’s.” From Lilly Anheuser who married Adolphus Busch in 1861, to their 3 -year old grand-daughter, Lilly. The Grant Grenache is named for the family seat in St. Louis, Grant’s Farm, which was named for Ulysses S. Grant, the original farmsteader of the that land. The August Red and August White are named for Andy’s grandfather and father, August Busch Sr. And Jr. His father, August, Jr., or Gussie, was the one who gave his father the first Clydesdale hitch to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition in 1934.

“The Busches still ponder why they decided to launch a business that they knew so little about, so late in life, after their children had left home. But it is working. Folded Hills has won many awards for the wines which are grown organically, following the biodynamic calendar. The wines are hand-crafted in small batches with minimal intervention.”

“They have no commercial additives, minimal sulfur, no residual sugar and less than 1 gram of carbs. Just as Andy’s ancestors insisted before him, quality is the Folded Hills standard. The Busches create raves for guests to their two tasting rooms (at the vineyard estate and in Montecito), and have adopted Andy’s father, Gussie’s, motto,” making friends is our business”.”

Proprietress Kim Busch and General Manger Tymari Lore continue with us expanding on the unusual story of Folded Hills Winery.

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Show 312, February 23, 2019: Barry Prescott, General Manager, The Landsby

Andy Harris and Barry Prescott at the LandsbyOur Solvang broadcast host is The Landsby, the newest and possibly the most innovative hotel in the Santa Ynez Valley. This stunning 50-room boutique hotel offers warm hospitality and refined, stylish accommodations. It’s also the home of the Mad & Vin restaurant serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and Happy Hour (a locals’ favorite) seven days a week.

The Landsby features a clean contemporary design, with a hint of traditional Scandinavian aesthetic. The completely remodeled, bright and open guestrooms are finished with blonde woods, brushed brass accents, and elegant but comfortable hand-crafted furnishings complete with updated bathrooms, 47-inch flat-screen HDTVs, minibars, and stunning artwork commissioned from regional artists.

Hospitality veteran Barry Prescott, The Landsby’s General Manager, shows us around. Maintaining excellence in food and beverage is also part of his extensive background.

Either Barry or the Manager on Duty personally checks each guest room before the arriving guest departs the front desk.

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Show 311, February 16, 2019: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris

Now an enticing preview of this Saturday’s treat-filled show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case, and upon careful reflection, that’s probably a pretty good thing… As always thanks for being a part of our loyal listening audience.

Sommelier Matthew Kaner is a partner in some of the best wine bars (Good Measure) in Southern California. He also represents Codorniu-Raventos, the producer of some of Spain’s most respected sparkling wines. Matthew recently conducted a masterclass on Cavas Codorniu for somms and wine retailers in West Hollywood. We’ll pop the cork with him.

For the 25th consecutive year the celebrity chef to the stars, Wolfgang Puck, will set the stage for the Oscars’ Governors Ball menu pairing classic Hollywood glamour with culinary whimsy. Working alongside Chef Puck is Wolfgang Puck Catering’s Executive Chef and Vice President, Culinary, Eric Klein (formerly Executive Chef & Partner of Spago Las Vegas. We’ll have an exclusive kitchen chat with Chef Eric.

Chef Jo-Jo Doyle is the Executive Chef & Director of Operations at Honda Center which celebrated its 25th birthday last year. They, unusually, manage all the food and beverage at Honda Center themselves to maintain quality control. It’s everything from a giant meatball with al dente pasta to sit-down dining. We’ll find out what’s new on the menu with Chef Jo-Jo.

Locally owned and operated, The Upper West opened its doors in 2010 and not long after its arrival on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica has emerged as a consistent local favorite. Upper West’s ever-changing menu draws inspiration from around the world while maintaining eclectic flavors of Chef Nick Shipp’s very own. We pull Chef Nick away from his busy kitchen for a chat.

Co-Host Chef Andrew Gruel joins us from the road with another informative segment of “Ask the Chef.” It’s of considerable value to have a real, working chef in our radio kitchen! We missed talking with Chef Andrew about pizza last Saturday to commemorate (that all-important Holiday) National Pizza Day. We’re grabbling the perfect slice this week, instead!

Listener note for next Saturday, February 23rd.
We’re live from The Landsby boutique hotel in historic Solvang in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. It’s a delectable taste of Denmark without the long flight. Think Ableskiver, a popular Dutch dessert served with raspberry jam and a dusting of powdered sugar. On the menu is food, wine and delectable, artisan Danish chocolates. Please do join us.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s not-to-miss show!

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