Monday, August 1, 2011

8/1-Michael Horn talks to Sonja Magdevski & Barbara Satterfield

Sonja Magdevski - Casa Dumetz Winery

Casa Dumetz - Malibu started in 2004 with a patch of raw earth, a bucket of grapevines and plenty of sweat from family and friends who joined together to make a dream come true. From these efforts emerged a love story and a sincere commitment to producing authentic (and of course great) wine. Our production is small, yet growing, and includes our organically farmed Malibu estate Pinot Noir, as well as our Viognier, Syrah and new Syrah Rosé and Grenache additions for 2010 all from Tierra Alta Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. We are also excited to announce the upcoming creation of Sonja’s Suds Sparkling Syrah Rosé released in time for the New Year.

We simply can’t resist bubbles!

Barbara Satterfield - Executive Director at Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance
Wine and Fire returns to Sta. Rita Hills Aug. 12-14

After taking a two-year break from annual festivities, members of the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance are back in the limelight with plans to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the American Viticultural Area (AVA) in August.

The Wine and Fire Weekend returns to Santa Barbara County's westernmost AVA Friday through Sunday, Aug. 12-14, with a three-day passport wine tasting, an AVA-specific seminar, wine dinners and a Grand Tasting Saturday evening on the grounds of La Purisima Mission.

Full details about daily events, participating winemakers and ticket prices can be found at

The Sta. Rita Hills AVA, approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in 2001, includes 30,720 acres. Its eastern edge is west of Buellton, and western edge just east of Lompoc; the southern boundary is the north side of the Santa Rosa Hills - along the road of the same name - and the northern edge the south side of the Purisima Hills. The Santa Ynez River courses through the middle of the AVA.

Currently planted to vineyards are approximately 2,500 acres, and of that, roughly 1,900 are pinot noir, and 500 chardonnay, said Barbara Satterfield, executive director of the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance. Those grape varietals are two that especially thrive in the cooler, moisture-laden climate for which the Sta. Rita Hills is known.

When longtime local resident Satterfield was hired by the Alliance board late in 2009, its membership had cancelled two years' worth of the barbecue-based celebrations that had originated as events based on local wines and "fire."

"It was an all-volunteer board," and after the third consecutive "Wine and Fire" event took place in 2008, everything "just collapsed," she said.

In April 2010, Satterfield, who had previously been an Alliance board member, started as director, and began picking up the pieces, working to promote the AVA. She sat down with winemakers, and asked for input about how best to showcase their wines.

Starting last year at consumer and trade shows across the state, Satterfield, the board and various winemaking members talked up the region and its wines, "trying to get the word out" about Sta. Rita Hills as an entity. While many of the winemakers have successfully marketed themselves, the AVA needs more recognition as a region, she said.

"People still gravitate to the Santa Ynez Valley (area), not to us."

Two relatively newer businesses, one at each end of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, so to speak, are D'Vine Wine Bar in Lompoc, and Avant Tapas and Wine in Buellton. Both are hosting Wine and Fire opening-night events Friday, Avant a large-format (magnum) tasting, and D'Vine a food-and-wine pairing event.

Avant will host 12 Sta. Rita Hills winemakers, said Joe Padilla, manager. "Each will be pouring a large format bottle of a library wine, as well as a current release. The current-release wines will be available for purchase in Avant at a 20 percent discount to attendees," he said. The menu that night will be "localcentric," with a focus on locally produced foods, he added.

Held in conjunction with Wine and Fire were two vineyard walks, one at Foley and the other at Rio Vista Vineyard, across the Santa Ynez River on Santa Rosa Road. The free walks took place July 16, and Satterfield hopes to make similar vineyard treks a "regular feature" of the Alliance.

Events and tickets

All information and tickets available at Note that the weekend Wine Tasting Passports are not sold separately, but in conjunction with either the seminar, grand tasting or package (both events) purchase.

• Friday, Aug. 12: Large Format Reception at Avant Tapas and Wine Bar, Buellton, 6 to 8 p.m., and food and wine pairing reception with several winemakers at D'Vine Wine Bar, Lompoc, also starting at 6 p.m. Both venues will provide live music, and chances for guests to mingle with winemakers. Costs: Avant's event is $10 per person for Wine and Fire passport holders, $20 per person without. D'Vine's event: $20 for Wine and Fire passport holders, $25 without. Reservations, information: Avant, 686-4742, and D'Vine, 735-8771.

• Saturday, Aug. 13: Morning: Seminar at El Jabali Vineyard, Alma Rosa Winery, with Sta. Rita Hills' pioneering winemakers Richard Sanford, Rick Longoria, Kathy Joseph and Bruno D'Alfonso, who will discuss the past, present and future of the region. Time: 10 a.m to noon; cost: $150 (includes three-day passport ticket). Evening: Grand Tasting at La Purisima Mission, with various winemakers pouring wines, and grilled snacks available in a walk-around format on the outdoor grounds, 5 to 8 p.m. Cost: $100 (includes three-day passport ticket)

A ticket for both the Saturday El Jabali seminar and the Grand Tasting is available for $175 per person, and also includes the three-day passport.

• Sunday: Third day of Wine and Fire passport, brunch at Avant, special open houses, barrel tastings and more. See for specific winery details.

Wineries scheduled to participate in the Tasting Passport are Ampelos Cellars, Cargasacchi (Sunday only), Carr, Cold Heaven, D'Alfonso-Curran (Sunday only), Dierberg, Demetria, Dragonette Cellars, Fiddlehead Cellars, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley, Huber Cellars, Ken Brown, Liquid Farm (at Dragonette Cellars), Longoria (Lompoc Wine Ghetto tasting room only), Loring Wine Company, Pali, Prodigal and Zotovich Cellars.

Most participating Sta. Rita Hills' wineries and winemakers plan individual dinners, brunches, open houses, special discounts on purchases and more. Visit or specific winery websites for more details.

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