Visiting a wine region can be both a highly enjoyable and somewhat daunting endeavor.
Your goal might be to see as much as possible — from the tasting rooms to the cellar tours to the restaurants to the scenery — but time constraints likely will limit the experience.
That’s why attending a regional wine event is such a good idea. Virtually every wine region hosts at least one special event each year, and some host several.
California, in particular, is a hotbed of such events, often taking the form of festivals.
A new event to the schedule is coming up this month, north of Santa Barbara. It’s called Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley, and it’s set for Oct. 17-20.
The goal, according to the event website, is to “introduce guests to the edible and imbibe-able bounty of this burgeoning culinary destination.”
The list of activities includes walk-around wine tastings, winery dinners, cooking classes, a wine-and-cheese pairing event, a tasting devoted to a single variety (namely, Cabernet Franc), a showing of the movie “Sideways” (accompanied by wine tastings), a grape stomp, a family-friendly “Day in the Country” (with a small-town parade, artisan vendors, food trucks and more), a Sta. Rita Hills vs. Santa Maria Valley wine seminar… and even a beer dinner.
Tickets for events may be purchased individually, or an almost-all-inclusive pass is available — almost because some wine dinners will be held simultaneously, and pass holders will have to make a choice.
There also are three-day, two-day and single-day passes available, offering various combinations of the featured events.
For those who are able to extend their stay, purchasing a Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association Winter Pass might be a good idea. Priced at $50, each pass entitles the holder to tastings at 14 participating wineries in the area, and pretty much pays for itself with visits to three or four wineries.
You can learn more about the Winter Pass here.
So if you’re a fan of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot or Cabernet Franc — to name only a few of the outstanding varieties produced in the region — set aside a few days later this month to discover the wines and wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley.
Your palate will thank you.