2016 Sta. Rita Hills ‘Wine & Fire’ Event: August 5-7, Lompoc

Life is full of pleasures great and small, but few things beat the combination of fantastic grilled meats and really excellent wine. If you agree, and you’re looking for something to do the first weekend in August, the folks who grow and make wine in the Santa Rita Hills have got a deal for you.

They’re throwing a party they call Wine and Fire and it looks like a helluva time.

Ten years ago, most wine lovers probably hadn’t ever heard of the Santa Rita Hills unless they were really die-hard California Pinot Noir geeks. But thanks to both the movie Sideways, as well as the increasingly high quality juice these folks are making, this small section of Santa Barbara County has started to get some serious attention.

The Santa Rita Hills are a unique geologic formation — a set of hills that runs almost exactly perpendicular to the coast of California. The east-west valleys created by the ancient combined action of subduction and faults act like siphons to bring cool sea air and fog into a region of southern California that is otherwise quite warm. The combination of these cooling influences and mild sunny weather the rest of the time, plus calcium rich soils make for a wonderful cool-climate region particularly suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but with some pockets warm enough to grow Bordeaux and Rhone varieties as well.

Utilized by benchmark producers such as Brewer-Clifton, Clos Pepe, and Dierberg, as well as newer comers such as Kitá Wines or Lutum, the fruit from this region has earned its reputation for unusually high quality for a reason. If you don’t know these wines, then perhaps you might enjoy getting to know them over some seriously great food and with some friendly folks in a beautiful setting.

Which brings me back to Wine and Fire. The event begins on Friday, August 5th, with a Barn Party where the participating winemakers will be sharing library selections to be consumed along with wood-fired pizzas. Then on Saturday the 6th, morning seminars and lunch will be followed by the grand tasting event where local food purveyors will be dishing out good stuff while the wineries pour their wares for wandering attendees.

And if on Sunday morning, you still haven’t gotten enough, you can drive around and visit wineries in the area, some of whom are offering special deals to attendees of the event. All in all, it should be a great weekend if you can make it.

2016 Santa Rita Hills Wine & Fire Event
Grand Tasting: Saturday August 6th
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
La Purisima Mansion
2295 Purisima Road
Lompoc, CA 93436 (map)

Tickets for the grand tasting cost $100 plus online fees, and the other parties and seminars cost between $75 and $85 apiece. Buy yours online in advance. The event’s web site also has suggested lodging information for those traveling from out of town.