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Archives for February 2016

Santa Barbara’s “Wild World of Orchids”

Some of the exotic orchids on display at the  Santa Barbara International Orchid Show  might even resemble a space alien! (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Some of the exotic orchids on display at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show might even resemble a space alien! (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Orchid enthusiasts from around the world will be in Santa Barbara this weekend for the 71st Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.

“This is the biggest show in the United States,” said George Hatfield, president of this year’s show.

“This is an opportunity for the community to see orchids that they would have to travel around the world and pay thousands of dollars in airline tickets to see.”

“We have people from all continents except from Antarctica that are going to be displaying orchids.” Said Hatfield.

Many of the orchids being showcased feature details so intricate, it’s hard to believe they come from nature. They look more like precious works of art.

Hatfield explains exhibitors spend thousands of dollars on the orchids going into their displays.

Floral arrangement and photography competitions are a part of the annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Floral arrangement and photography competitions are a part of the annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

“Wild World of Orchids” is the theme of this year’s show, which also features orchid art, photography, floral arrangement and corsage competitions.

In addition to the floral displays, an entire exhibit hall is devoted to orchid sales. Many attendees take advantage of the chance to bring potted orchids and arrangements home.

 

Listen: Click to listen to my podcast with George Hatfield, president of the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.

“60 vendors from around the world will bring a lot of exotic orchids that you don’t normally see at our local nurseries,” said Hatfield.

The International Cymbidium Conference takes place in tandem with the show, so there’s the chance to sign up for workshops and other events.

“Santa Barbara is kind of ground zero of cymbidium orchids, said Hatfield. “Cymbidiums started here in Santa Barbara and they’ve been a very big part of this show for many years.”

Exotic orchids on display at Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Exotic orchids will be on display this weekend at Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

The annual event brings in attendees by the busload to Earl Warren Showgrounds.  It’s a favorite stop for photographers, too.

“The orchid show is HUGE!” said photographer Ken Pfeiffer, who often attends to capture photos of the exotic orchids and extravagant botanical arrangements.

“It’s a visual feast of a seemingly unlimited variety of orchids from around the world. Some are exhibited individually as priceless solitary jewels, and some in massive artistic arrangements. The incredible colors and natural majesty are not to be missed!”

For the best photo-ops, Hatfield suggests arriving early, while the flowers are at their peak and the crowds are the thinnest.

The show runs from 9am-5pm Friday-Sunday (March 4-6, 2016) at Earl Warren Showgrounds. General admission is $14; seniors and students with ID are $12. Children 12 and under are free with an adult. For more information go to SBOrchidShow.com

 

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Winter Wine Classic Santa Barbara

Melinda Gandara pours a Lieff red for a group from the Coral Casino (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Melinda Gandara pours a Lieff red for a group of guests at the Winter Wine Classic (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Fine wine was flowing in Santa Barbara Saturday night at the California Wine Festival’s Fifth Annual Winter Wine Classic. Guests who gathered in the ballroom of the Fess Parker Resort were treated to tastes of reds and whites from up and down the state, as well as an array of tapas from local eateries.

Some of Santa Barbara’s best known brands were represented, including Brander, Alma Rosa, Zaca Mesa, Beckman and Melville. Several labels from the Santa Rita Hills were there, as well as some well-known Napa Valley labels, including Rombauer and Charles Krug.

An added treat was the several winemakers pouring their own wines. Sandra Newman of Cebada and Adam Henkel of Westerly Wines were there, along with Fred Brander’s son, Nick.

Lisa Osborn with Gretchen Lieff (Lieff Wines) and Melinda Gandara (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Lisa Osborn with Gretchen Lieff (Lieff Wines) and Melinda Gandara (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

My friend Gretchen Lieff was pouring her 2009 Lieff Cabernet Sauvignon from their Auberge Road Vineyard Rutherford.

“We are so excited to be part of the Winter Wine Classic and be able to help spread the growing enthusiasm and interest in California wines.” Said Lieff. “For the most part, the world of wine is a great deal of fun but it’s also a lot of hard work. It’s nice to meet the people who appreciate that effort.”

Gretchen, with her husband Robert, are growing grapes on their ranch at the San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara border. They will release their first vintage from this vineyard next year. But, some of their grapes are already turning up in Santa Barbara wines, including vintages from Margerum and Brander.

Jenny & Leo drove up from Los Angeles to taste wines they might want to serve at their wedding (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Jenny & Leo drove up from Los Angeles to taste wines they might want to serve at their wedding (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

I also ran into an old friend, Bill Candela, who was pouring Sunstone wines, including a red that scored 90+ in Tasting Panel Magazine the Blue Review.

Blush was one of the Santa Barbara restaurants offering tapas (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Blush was one of the Santa Barbara restaurants offering tapas (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

The guests I spoke with were big fans of this event. Some were local, one foursome came from Nipomo and at least one couple came from out of state.

Tom and Diana, who used to live in Ventura County, came down from Seattle. They are big fans of the California Wine Festival, with the summer event (July 15-16, 2016 this year) being Diana’s all-time favorite.

“We get the pass for the weekend, and attend the VIP event on Thursday night,” she said. “That’s where they are pouring the (most) expensive wines and delicious foods.”

Another couple, Jenny and Leo, came up from Los Angeles, to sample wines that they might want to serve at their wedding.

Blush, I’A Fish Market & Cafe, Rodney’s Grill, Paxti’s Pizza and Georgia’s Smokehouse were among the local eateries offering small bites.

An open air photo booth made it easy for revelers to ‘strike a pose’ and take home memories from this special event.

Winter Wine Classic Santa Barbara

Photos from the California Wine Festival's Winter Wine Classic at Fess Parker Resort Santa Barbara, February 20, 2016

[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_nello.jpg]110Phogographer Ken Pfeiffer said Nello wines were one of his favorites of the evening (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_characters.jpg]20Striking a pose at the open air photo booth (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_cebada.jpg]40Winemaker Sandra Newman of Cebada Wines (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_madrone.jpg]60Pouring Madrone Wines (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_cielito.jpg]50Nosh from Cielito (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
(Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_westerly.jpg]40Winemaker Adam Henkel of Westerly Wines (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_press.jpg]60Lisa Osborn with Sue Foley and Lauren Bray of Ed Hat
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_girls.jpg]90
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_sunstone.jpg]50
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_couple.jpg]40
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_blush_0.jpg]40
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_lief-and-company.jpg]60Melinda Gandara, Gretchen Lieff, Lisa Osborn (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_gretchen-and-friend.jpg]70Gretchen Lieff of Lieff Wines with Kevin Speer, general manager of the Coral Casino (Ken Pfeiffer Photography)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_krug.jpg]40Pouring Charles Krug
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_crowd.jpg]40
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/winter-wine-classic-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_son-and-friend.jpg]50Ashley with Nick Brander

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Santa Barbara Wine Industry Ages Well

Santa Barbara County adds another AVA with Los Olivos, bringing the total number of distinctive wine growing areas to six. (Photo Traffic411)

Santa Barbara County adds another AVA with Los Olivos, bringing the total number of distinctive wine growing areas to six. (Photo Traffic411)

We’re barely into 2016, and it’s already been a good year for Santa Barbara wine industry.

In January, the federal government awarded Los Olivos its own AVA (American Viticultural Area). The designation recognizes a wine-grape growing region as being distinct from surrounding areas in climate, soil and geographical features.

Tune-in to my podcast with Fred Brander of Brander Vineyards and Morgen McLaughlin of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association

“I think each place in the Santa Ynez Valley has its own right area for different varietals,” said winemaker Fred Brander. The owner of Brander Vineyards led the decade-long effort to achieve the AVA designation for Los Olivos.

“Bordeau varieties mainly do well (in Los Olivos), certainly Sauvignon  Blanc…. the reds have been longer to perfect, namely Cabernet Sauvignon…. it’s a matter of applying some really careful viticulture.” Brander, who has a background in chemistry, was one of the first winemakers to plant grapes in the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago.

Fred Brander, owner of Brander Vineyards, was one of the first winemakers to plant grapes in the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago.

Fred Brander, owner of Brander Vineyards, was one of the first winemakers to plant grapes in the Santa Ynez Valley 40 years ago.

“When Cabernet is grown right, it can make some great wine,” added Brander. “Of course it has to be grown in Los Olivos. You can’t probably make the best Cabernet in Santa Rita.”

Brander explained the new Los Olivos AVA covers “the area between Happy Canyon and Ballard Canyon with the Santa Ynez River being the southern boundary, and for the northern boundary we picked the 1000 foot elevation.”

“It’s very exciting to have a new AVA, because it provides more clarity and more spotlight on our unique growing region,” said Morgen McLaughlin, executive director of Santa Barbara County Vintners Association. “Santa Barbara is one of the most unique growing regions in the world. Having a new AVA helps us to better tell the story.”

McLaughlin explains that Santa Barbara County is different than other California wine countries. “Most regions are more similar, in that they have one or two signature wine grape varieties. We are blessed in Santa Barbara in that we have more than 50 varieties that do so well.”

Anyone who has spent much time in Santa Barbara County has probably noticed that wines have become big business, and a tourist magnet. A new economic impact report revealed that the wine industry adds more than $1 billion annually to the Santa Barbara County economy.  McLaughlin says even she was surprised by the eye-popping number.

“The report shows that our wine and grape industry provides…. $1.7 billion annually to economic vitality to the county……  That’s not only from wine making, but it’s also from grape growing, tourism, the restaurant business, those who sell and pour Santa Barbara County wines, retailers, tour companies. There’s a lot of different small businesses that benefit from the wine industry in the county.”

“Santa Barbara remains the most exciting wine country area in all of California,” said Brander.

Los Olivos becomes the sixth AVA for Santa Barbara County, distinguishing itself from Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon, Ballard Canyon, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley wine growing areas.

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