Carol Dinh
January 29, 2014 | Carol Dinh

2014 Kick-off with Winter Wine Classic

It is a New Year—and you know what that means: New Year’s resolutions. Now, I know I am not the only person that has “drink more wine and be classy” as their New Year’s resolutions. So, what better way to kick off 2014 than with a January wine event?

On Sunday, January 19th, I attended the 3rd Annual Winter Wine Classic at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. With a VIP ticket, I arrived at 5:30 PM for an early bird overview and tasting. The resort itself was gorgeous and large—I took my time to take in the beautiful building and the view of the beach and ocean.

As I approached the entrance of the ballroom, the California Wine Festival staff greeted me. With a wristband, a pamphlet, and a wine glass in hand, I entered the ballroom. With over 100 wines and over 40 wineries from all over California, I was pleasantly surprised at the organization of the event. It was elegant, easy to walk around, and easy to find your favorite wineries and delicious food options.

I had the pleasure of talking to a few wineries about their wines and their thoughts of the event.

“We love Santa Barbara and it’s really nice to see everyone out here on a Sunday night,” said Diane Cranor, owner of Nottingham Cellars. Diane and her sister, Susan, brought several of their award-winning wines to showcase as well as spread awareness of the Livermore Valley and Tri-Valley regions. “The Tri-Valley area is rich [with] premium grapes and it is growing. We wanted to share wines from this region—it is a little treasure we brought to Santa Barbara.” Diane poured me a glass of their 2010 Supremacy Blend and it opened up with beautiful aromas of blackberry, and ends with a smooth finish of vanilla.

“It’s interesting that the event is at night as opposed to an afternoon festival,” commented Ashlie Leslie, Key Account Specialist for Sextant Wines. “It’s a great crowd so far. People are hungry and thirsty to taste wine, and we’re here to support Paso Robles.”


The Winter Wine Classic got busy fast as the general admission attendees came in. As each of the winery booths got busier serving their wines, I took this opportunity to explore the delectable foods. My first stop was at Georgia’s Smokehouse, where the crowd in front was giving positive feedback to owner Alissa Parks. I took a bite and indeed, their pulled pork topped with honey apple coleslaw was delicious. I then wandered over to Santa Barbara’s The Hungry Cat where sous chef Dominic Sbardellati and bartender Julia Rose served Chef Adele Sun’s ahi salmon tartar with green olive tapenade and pistachio gremolata. It was soft, unique and amazing! It was just really great food all around—from Cupcakes in Wonderland to Monterey Chocolate Co. to Kerrygold Cheeses and Butters. Plus, Gauthier Wear Art displayed their beautiful jewelry.

I made my second (maybe my third) round of wine tasting and stopped at Bernardus:  “[The event] is great! There are plenty of people. It’s a great way to test and see what people like. They get to [taste] the new wines that we rarely pour like our 2011 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia and 2011 Chardonnay Monterey County,” shared Bernardus Director of Sales and Marketing, Robert Baker.

It was also fantastic to see a handful of local wineries that were there to represent Santa Barbara wine country. “This is a good opportunity, a lot of people don’t realize Grassini Family Vineyards is a local winery. It’s great to be a part of the community,” said Anna Martin, who works in the tasting room. “We brought our Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignons because we’re all about that!” I took a sip of their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and it was crisp, with nice aromas of lemons and delicious fruits.


It was a great start to the New Year. There were a lot of happy attendees, and a lot of enjoyable, award-winning classic wines and food. Additionally, it was not hot either! It was a nice change to enjoy wine and food in a cool environment. I had a fun time tasting premium wines from all around California. I highly recommend this event to those who are interested in tasting classic California wines and I look forward to the next Califorina Wine Festival event.

Until next time!


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