Before they could move into their dream winemaking facility, the proprietors of Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room had to exhume it. The team dug 15 feet into the earth and hacked their way through two feet of stone in order to gain access to a century-old stone water cistern, which they subsequently converted into a solar-powered underground winery. Today, the winemakers handcraft Old World–style varietals from organic grapes that flourish in the Ojai Valley's warm climate.
Grown and farmed without pesticides or herbicides, the grapes are part of the natural, sustainable practices that earned Casa Barranca the first organic certification for a winery in the Santa Barbara region. They're also what give Casa Barranca's critically lauded and award-winning wines their fruity, earthy flavors. Visitors can sample these bouquets amid murals of the local wine region in the winery's tasting room, located in downtown Ojai's Historic Arcade.
From the ivy-covered outside in, Barrel 33 cultivates a cozy bar atmosphere conducive to long conversations and savored sips of wine. Their wine cellar, kept at a constant 56 degrees, hosts dozens of domestic and international red and white wines by the bottle. Reds include a hefty selection of cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir from Sonoma and Santa Barbara. French champagne, sparkling wine, and chardonnay from Napa and the Russian River valley, on the other hand, dominate the selection of whites. To accompany the wine, Barrel 33’s kitchen assembles plates of olives, duck pate, brie with Grand Marnier strawberry sauce, or crisp thin-crust pizzas.
Red walls stretch around the interior of the wine bar, complementing both the stone-topped bar and the dappled tulip lights hanging over it. Tall chairs with carved arms and plush crimson cushions sit at attention at the counter. Outside in the enclosed wine garden, palm fronds reach up to the strings of fairy lights stretched across the patio. A wood fire crackles in a fireplace made from the same chunky boulders as the building’s exterior, sending light flickering over wicker chairs and the glass tables’ ornate legs, which were donated by the late glass man, who lived in a glass house but never threw stones.
Tequila and Taco Music Festival's Mas Margaritas aims to fill attendees' entire afternoon with a celebration of Mexican food and culture. Held at upscale shopping and dining center The Collection at Riverpark, the festival moves along to a soundtrack of live music and the clinking of glasses. Though craft beer is available, the focus is on margaritas?each crafted by acclaimed bartenders using top-shelf tequila and mescal. Gourmet street-style tacos provide the ideal pairing for drinks and the ideal decoration for any hats with a wide enough brim. Meanwhile, art and craft vendors put their handmade wares on display. Even though celebration is its own reward, the festival goes one step further by donating proceeds to the Food Share local food bank.
This summer, the California Beer Festival makes a triumphant return to Marin County. In a day-long celebration of craft beer on June 28, the festival fills cups with more than 70 craft brews on tap?some from local breweries, and others from nationally known brands. Situated amongst the hills of Marin County near Novato, Stafford Lake Park provides a spacious, sun-splashed backdrop for the event. In between sips, attendees can stroll or barrel-roll around the park while taking in the festival's other activities, which include live music performances, games of bocce ball, and food served by vendors.
California Beer Festival's organizers put together celebrations of their favorite beverage throughout the year, always with an emphasis on craft beers in particular. On October 19th, they plan yet another showcase of artisanal brews in a time-honored style: Halloween Oktoberfest Brought to You by the California Beer Festival. Oktoberfests typically show off German-style beverages of a darker variety?thick brews that go down well on a chilly day. But if the organizers' past events are any indication, visitors can expect to choose from a variety of seasonal craft brews served in hearty steins.
The oenophiles at Gone West Cellars take pride in sharing the wine of Ventura County, the Santa Ynez Valley, and Paso Robles with visitors. They pour tasting flights and full glasses amid charming DIY decor that includes large chalk drawings and suspended garden rakes that double as wine-glass holders. Rustic communal tables encourage mingling and impromptu games of chardonnay pong, while aged saddles add a touch of Western flair. The kitchen also serves up cheese plates, sandwiches, and desserts, and there are beer options for those who prefer a maltier brew.