Show 375, May 30, 2020: Chef Frank Ostini of Hitching Post 2 Restaurant & Hitching Post Wines

Frank Ostini of Hitching Post IIIt’s hard to believe but until fairly recently Hitching Post Wines (made famous in the Oscar-winning 2004 feature motion picture, “Sideways,”) never had a tasting room. That all changed for the better in August of 2018 when acclaimed winemakers Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini debuted a mid-century farmhouse, destination Tasting Room (with the bonus of lunch service delivered from Hitching Post 2) adjacent to Chef Ostini’s prominent Hitching Post 2 Restaurant in Buellton.

The Tasting Room is still on temporary hiatus but Hitching Post 2 has reopened for pick-up and delivery. Hitching Post Wine packages available, too. Lunch service with wine available by the glass has returned outside under a covered canopy in the picnic area adjacent to the Tasting Room. (Closed on Monday & Tuesday.)

“The Hitching Post 2 blends traditional Santa Maria Barbecue with eclectic local ingredients and award -winning wines for an exciting cuisine that is uniquely its own.”

Chef Frank has put together an impressive Take Home Dinner for Four (Hitching Post BBQ Box) that is delivered to Los Angeles (pick-up at Mar Vista Restaurant every other Tuesday) via Los Alamos Delivers. It includes 1 lb. Prime Top Sirloin Steak, 1 lb. Natural Pork Back Ribs, ½ BBQ’d Fresh Natural Chicken and sides of BBQ’d Baked Potatoes, Rice Pilaf, Assorted Vegetables, Roots Farm Green Salad, Garlic Bread and Salsa. Comes chilled and ready to re-warm at home.

We nudge Chef Frank away from his Santa Maria style BBQ grill to share the details.


Show 374, May 23, 2020: Winemaker Clarissa Nagy, c nagy Wines

Clarissa Nagy of c.nagy winesPreviously we’ve met passionate winemaker Clarissa Nagy who has her own boutique label, c nagy, with a rustic tasting room in historic Orcutt. C nagy wines are “A pure expression of grapes from a vineyard celebrating the experience of Santa Barbara County.” Clarissa has a particular affinity for Pinot Noir but other available current releases include Syrah, Grenache, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc.

Curbside pickup of wines by the bottle is currently available at the Tasting Room while the signature tastings are on hold. Clarissa is also hosting a regular series of entertaining and informative virtual tastings.

“People often ask how I started in the wine industry. It was never my plan to make wine. Actually, my original intention was to work with food. Thankfully, food and wine are often paired together. Through that means, wine found me.”

“Pinot Noir and Syrah were my main focus for the next 6 years. I made a Viognier in 2010, but frost would prevent me from doing so in 2011. The loss of Viognier opened the door to work with Pinot Blanc as well, and my journey continued to unfold. The newest chapter of my story is the addition of the tasting room.”

“Winemaking has become my passion. Sharing that joy with others is a priority. I’d love to be able to bring everyone into the vineyard and cellar to experience winemaking firsthand. Since that isn’t realistic, I offer you a taste of my labor. Here is that experience captured in bottle. I hope to share this passion with you in person. Until then, enjoy!”
– Owner/Winemaker Clarissa Nagy

Winemaker Clarissa Nagy is our encore guest.


Show 364, March 14, 2020: Winemaker Douglas Barden Margerum, Margerum Wine Company, Santa Barbara

Douglas Barden MargerumLeading the Margerum Wine Company team (with a new tasting room at Hotel Californian in the State Building) is creator and namesake, Douglas Barden Margerum, a long- term Santa Barbara resident who has been a fixture in the Santa Barbara food and wine scene for over 35 years. Doug is also is a member of the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience Advisory Committee.

“Margerum Wine Company produces limited quantities of wines made from grapes grown both on their estate vineyard and grapes purchased from other top vineyards from in and around Santa Barbara County. The 18-acre estate vineyard is planted exclusively to Rhône grape varietals. The acreage is divided between limestone hillsides and gravelly alluvial flatlands along Alamo Pintado Creek. The wines are made at their state-of-the-art winery located on Industrial Way in Buellton. Owner and Director of Winemaking, Douglas Barden Margerum, works with the top vineyards from the cool, eastern end of the valley in Happy Canyon to the western end’s cold vineyards of Sta. Rita Hills. Doug carefully selects the vineyards with meticulous attention to detail in all factors influencing the ultimate quality of the wines, including pruning, soil, climate, and farming methods.”

“Margerum Wine Company is committed to creating hand-crafted wines using only the highest quality grapes in order to make wines that are indicative of the place where they are grown. They strive to make wines naturally, to make wines that have individual characteristics and to make wines with personality. The scale of production is kept at a level where they can touch and know the wine as it is raised to the bottle – the antithesis of mass production. The standards of quality are measured by their own rigid criteria – not by external sources. They make wines they personally enjoy – some to drink young, others for long aging in cool cellars for future generations to enjoy, but mostly to share at the table with family and friends.”

“Doug’s multi-faceted background as the Sommelier/Owner of The Wine Cask, a Wine Spectator Grand Award restaurant recipient, and as a highly respected winemaker made him sought out by a variety of wineries to assist in the formation of their brands. Doug has consulted for Chêne Bleu super Rhône wines in France, and continues to consult for La Encantada Vineyards, Rancho Boa Vista and Happy Canyon Vineyards, all in Santa Barbara County, as well as the Santa Barbara wines of Paradise Springs Winery based in Virginia.”

The new Margerum Wine Company Tasting Room at Hotel Californian (State Building) is one of the most spacious, refined & stylish tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County. In addition to being able to taste all the current releases of Margerum wines there a variety of tasty nibbles are available, too. They are particularly known for their ample charcuterie boards. There is a whole spacious upstairs lounge area available for private events.


Show 312, February 23, 2019: Winemakers Gray Hartley and Chef Frank Ostini, Hitching Post Wines, Buellton

Frank Ostini and Gray HartleyIt’s hard to believe but before last year Hitching Post Wines (made famous in the Oscar-winning 2004 feature motion picture, Sideways,) never had a tasting room. That all changed for the better last year when acclaimed winemakers Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini debuted a mid-century farmhouse, destination Tasting Room (with lunch service delivered from Hitching Post 2) adjacent to Chef Ostini’s Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton.

Leading the Hitching Post Wines team are the creators and two long-time friends, Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini, who have been making wines in Santa Barbara County, California since 1979. Long before Hollywood discovered the winemaking landmark and its excellent wines, Gray Hartley, a former Alaskan salmon fisherman and Frank Ostini, chef and owner of the famed Hitching Post 2 Restaurant in Buellton, were brought together by their love of wine and winemaking. Over the years their backyard hobby has turned into a highly acclaimed winemaking enterprise.

A special quality of Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room is the back patio area and the expansive picnic grounds with incredible valley views. The “HP 2 You” Lunch comes over piping hot from the Hitching Post 2 restaurant. Enjoy specialties including Grilled Artichoke with Smoked Tomato Mayo and the Oak Grilled Cheeseburger. Appetizers (HP Steak Bites & more) are served daily after 2:30 p.m. until close.

Most of the Hitching Post Wines are available by the glass in the picnic area alfresco. The various Tasting Flights (Traditional and Reserve Tasting) are available inside the front HPW Tasting Room.

Gray & Frank pop the cork on a bottle of their signature Highliner for us.


Show 312, February 23, 2019: Royce Lewellen, Co-Proprietor, Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards, Solvang

Lucas LewellenLucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards, established in 1996, owns and farms three vineyards in Santa Barbara County. They have been supplying grapes to some of the finest wineries in California for decades. Lucas & Lewellen believes that quality begins in the vineyard, where all the work is done by hand and standards of uncompromising quality are maintained.

“This philosophy was carried on through the opening of the winery in 1999, with the goal of consistently producing estate wines of extraordinary character, reflecting the unique terroir of Santa Barbara County wine country. Megan McGrath Gates, winemaker since 2007, responds to the varying conditions and challenges that each year brings in the vineyard in order to express the natural individuality of each grape varietal grown.”

Lucas & Lewellen’s other label is Toccata with its own Tasting Room on Copenhagen Dr. in Solvang located one block away from the Lucas & Lewellen Tasting Room. Its estate grown traditional Italian varietals.

Co-proprietor Royce Lewellen is our guest.


Show 297, November 10, 2018: Robin & Brian Christenson, Proprietors, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana

It’s time for an encore visit with the husband-and-wife proprietors of Blinking Owl Distillery in Santa Ana, Orange County’s first craft distillery. Blinking Owl Craft Cocktails are now available at LA Rams home games served at a dedicated bar at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Selections include OC Orange Mule, Tailgate Tonics, The Cocktail Kicker and Tropical Touchdown (Blinking Owl Vodka, Lime Juice, Passion Fruit Liqueur and Soda.)

Brian’s Single Barrel, First Batch Birthday Bourbon has just been released in a 290 bottle batch. We’ll find out about it. It’s been aging in barrel for 2 years!

A straight Rye Whiskey is also currently aging. It could be released anytime between now and the end of 2019. We’ll get a progress report.

Also a kitchen is soon on the menu at Blinking Owl. At long last – food and libations. We’ll get the tempting food report from Robin.

Tasting and Distillery Tours are available. The Tasting Room is open Thursday through Sunday. Tours by appointment.



Show 289, September 8, 2018: Rob Rubens, Proprietor & Head Distiller, R6 Distillery & Smoky Hollow Tasting & Taproom, El Segundo

Rob RubensEl Segundo’s R6 Distillery & Smoky Hollow Tasting & Taproom was established in 2014 by Head Distiller Rob Rubens. Rob fell in love with the mystery and art of distillation after his first (and unplanned) trip to Old New Orleans Rum Distillery. He realized it was time for a change.

After scraping together savings, visiting plenty of distilleries and breweries, it was time to perhaps start another great wave. Coupling his experience with the desire to bring quality spirits to greater Los Angeles, Rob decided to open this speakeasy inspired distillery for everyone to enjoy.

Product highlights include R6 Vodka, R6 Blue Corn Bourbon, R6 Bourbon, R6 Rye, R6 Single Malt Whiskey, R6 Wheat Whiskey and R6 Rum.

There is a real Mixologist creating the signature cocktails in the Tasting Room. Think Smoked Old Fashioned with R6 Smoked Bourbon, sugar, and Ango Orange.


Show 288, September 1, 2018: Chef Frank Ostini, Hitching Post 2 and Hitching Post Wines, Buellton

Frank OstiniChef Frank Ostini’s Hitching Post 2 restaurant in Buellton is a beloved local institution known for incredible Santa Maria – style BBQ. Chef Frank and Gray Hartley are the creators and winemakers of Hitching Post Wines (Highliner Pinot Noir) made famous around the world in the Academy Award-winning feature motion picture, Sideways, released in 2004.

Surprisingly there has never been a Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room until just recently. Chef Frank Ostini takes us on a tour of the Hitching Post Wines Tasting Room conveniently located next door to the Restaurant on E. Highway 246 in Buellton.

Lunch (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily) for the Tasting Room (and wine pairings) will initially come (via a custom delivery tricycle) from the kitchen at the adjacent Hitching Post 2 restaurant known for Santa Maria-style BBQ. Look for HP Burgers, Triple-Fried French Fries, Santa Maria BBQ Artichokes and Grilled Corn Quesadillas. In the next phase a restored and converted Airstream kitchen trailer along with HP Santa Maria grills will be onsite and offering a broader menu.

There is quite a fascinating history to the picturesque, expanded property.


Show 281, July 14, 2018: Jack Lien, SakeOne, Forest Grove, Oregon

Jack LienNear the foodie mecca that is Portland, OR is SakeOne, located in Forest Grove, “America’s Premium Sake Company.” Why a Sake brewery in Tualatin Valley, OR? Foremost it’s the pristine, naturally soft water quality.

SakeOne brews three lines of premium Sake in Oregon including Momokawa, Moonstone and G Sake. At their Forest Grove brewery you can enjoy Premium Sake Flights in their Tasting Room and also partake of their educational Brewery Tour (at no charge.)

Sake is an ancient beverage dating back nearly 3,000 years, but began its refinement about 1,000 years ago. Today’s premium styles of sake (Junmai, Ginjo, Daiginjo, and others) are only about forty-five years old and still not a significant percentage of all sake produced. But, in the US, premium sake is more than half the market and growing.

“At SakéOne we tap into the idyllic waters of Oregon’s Willamette Valley to brew pure, premium saké in a variety of styles. Check out our bold and crisp G Saké, fruit-infused Moonstone and versatile Momokawa brands.”

We’ll hear about the Sake brewing process, and a lot more, from SakeOne’s resident expert, Jack Lien.



Show 277, June 16, 2018: Charles T. Williams, Master Shrubber, Broken Clock Vinegar Works, Solvang, CA

Charles CT WilliamsShrub cocktails (both with alcohol and virgin) are now on the menu at better bars everywhere. Enter Solvang’s CT and Jody Williams who have long been in the beverage industry, both working in the wine industry for the last 15 years and owning their own wine bar for the last eleven of those. In that time, a love of organic gardening has quite literally taken over their backyard and with that a fascination for all things that can be produced from the plethora of fruits, veggies and roots coming out of their soil.

After enjoying some shrub cocktails at a local restaurant they started thinking how fun it would be to start making their own for home consumption. Naturally, that led to the idea to be able to share these fun flavors with other farm-minded people who love the science of infusing and fermentation.

From there Broken Clock Vinegar Works was born, as these drinking vinegars can be enjoyed anytime of day, either with a dash of your favorite spirit or with a glass of sparkling water. The Williams’ daughter, Audrey, enjoys sipping Shrub sodas when she’s feeling fancy! She’s also very helpful at the winery doing punch downs and taste testing new flavors.

The Broken Clock Vinegar works will soon debut their Tasting Room on June 23rd. It’s the only certified Winery in Solvang. Tastings can be scheduled there by appointment.

We’re fans of the Prickly Pear & Kaffir Lime Shrub.

Founder CT Williams (and Master Shrubber) has all the quaffable 411 for us.