In Santa Barbara County, the east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world class wines. The 50 miles stretch from Point Conception to Rincon constitutes the longest east-west traverse of shoreline from Alaska to Cape Horn. Here, the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains form a unique coastal range - the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes make the region one of the coolest viticultural areas in California. This means that the fruit has an unusually long "hang time" on the vine, allowing it to fully develop the acids, flavors and tannins needed to produce wines of distinctive character. Within Santa Barbara County there are several distinct winegrowing areas; there are four official appellations: Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. There are also several regions within the county that produce distinctive wines - these include the Los Alamos Valley region, between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations, Ballard Canyon, the Los Olivos District and the Santa Maria Bench. Slightly less than half of the grapes grown in Santa Barbara County are used by local vintners, with the balance are exported to wineries outside the area.
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. Education was then, and remains today, the Court's charter. The first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969. By April 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established as the premier international examining body. It took the Court ten years to perfect its qualifications, which are recognized internationally. Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine and cuisine. He is the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide and assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as Director of Prestige Accounts for Beam Wine Estates. He is currently the President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time. As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He has been elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates for 2004. A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.