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Savor Santa Barbara’s Epicurean Experiences at Home

Photo by Jay Sinclair. Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

We may not yet be able to freely travel to Santa Barbara, but that doesn’t mean that Santa Barbara can’t come to us. Some of The American Riviera’s enterprising tastemakers have adapted their offerings so that those of us who long for our idyllic coastal getaway can feel a bit closer to our travel muse. For food and wine lovers yearning to explore beyond the confines of their own kitchens, it’s the next best thing to being there.

If you think you’ve seen every iteration of virtual experiences, think again. Offered here is ‘Wine 101’ with cats, cheese board how-tos, a podcast to which you can toast, and celebrity appearances. Read on for the clever ways Santa Barbara South Coast’s world-class winemakers, chefs, and mixologists have conspired to enliven your days and nights.  

EPICUREAN WORKSHOPS

Slate Catering recently launched virtual live-streaming cheese and charcuterie board workshops - an excuse to bring friends, co-workers and family together while miles apart. Workshop attendees are guided on how to style their very own grazing platters at home:  https://slatecatering.com/workshops or email feedme@slatecatering.com.

Slate Catering cheeseboard class. Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Eat This Shoot That! offers Virtual Foodie Adventures featuring live cooking and cocktail classes with Santa Barbara's award-winning chefs and mixologists, along with smartphone photo tips to enliven your Insta feed: https://eatthisshootthat.com/virtual-foodie-adventures-2/ 

Learn from celebrity Iron Chef Cat Cora and her free CORA-ntine Cuisine Instagram classes and just say “#ForktheVirus!” Many episodes were filmed in her Santa Barbara kitchen: https://www.instagram.com/catcora/

Santa Barbara-based cookbook author Pascale Beale of A Menu for All Seasons offers 90-minute Zoom classes that showcase tantalizing seasonal, California and Mediterranean-inspired dishes: https://www.pascaleskitchen.com/events-and-classes.php?Classes

WINE PODCAST

Santa Barbara County features more than 220 wineries and three dozen tasting rooms within the city alone. The area is a wonderland for wine aficionados. “Two Glasses In,” a new podcast and short video series from Visit Santa Barbara, celebrates the region’s distinctive wines through the stories of its winemakers and their lives. Find all nine episodes on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

VIRTUAL WINE TASTINGS

Local winemakers have been hosting regular virtual wine tastings through Instagram Live and Zoom. Most are at no cost to participants, though it helps to preorder wines through the wineries’ websites to drink along. A few notable tastings include:

Melville Winery's Happy 1/2 Hour Live, Fridays at 5:30 p.m. PST on Instagram Live: https://www.instagram.com/melville_winery/channel/. Head winegrower Chad Melville talks shop with fellow Santa Barbara winemakers and culinary experts. Among the lineup of guests is Alecia Moore, better known as pop star Pink, who will talk about her Two Wolves Wine on May 15. Free: https://melvillewinery.com/orders@melvillewinery.com, or (805) 735-7030.

SAMsARA Wine Co.’s Happy Hour on Instagram Live, Thursdays 5-6 p.m. PST on Instagram Live:  https://www.instagram.com/samsarawineco/ (Also offers in-depth Saturday tastings through Zoom.) The team from the Goleta-based winery, including winemaker Matt Brady, and special guests talk about topics ranging from new releases and label art. Free: https://www.samsarawine.com/info@samsarawine.com, or (805)-845-8001.

SAMsARA Winery Sommelier Lily Hays. Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Vintners, the local wine association, is hosting free weekly tastings with rotating winemakers every Monday and Thursday at 6 p.m. PST through May. Upcoming wineries include Folded Hills and Casa Dumetz (both women-led enterprises), as well as Epiphany Wine Co: https://www.sbcountywines.com/virtual-events.html

Need to learn the basics? Cat Therapy offers a Wine Tasting 101 Workshop W/Cats live-streamed from their cat café Sunday, May 3 at 5 p.m. PST by sliding-scale donation. Professional sommelier Clare Tudor will be 'assisted' by adoptable, rescued cats. Proceeds support this nonprofit organization, which has placed more than 500 cats up for adoption: https://shopcattherapy.com/products/live-stream-wine-tasting-101-workshop

Cat Therapy Wine Tasting 101. Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara’s culinary and wine scenes were recognized last year in the inaugural Michelin Guide to California and The New York Times' 52 Places to Go and recently featured in Food & Wine. This self-contained paradise is surrounded by undeveloped coastline and features signature red-tile roofs, white adobe buildings, and lush gardens that evoke the topography and architectural aesthetic of Europe’s Riviera. Simultaneously sophisticated and bohemian, easy-going and energetic, Santa Barbara welcomes visitors with relaxing resorts and hideaways, outdoor escapes, world-class wineries, and hyper-local food scene.

Located just 92 miles north of Los Angeles along California’s Central Coast, visitors can (when travel bans are lifted of course) arrive via scenic Highway 101, train, bus, or by flying into Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). For travel planning information and to request a free copy of the official and inspiring Santa Barbara Visitors Magazine, visit SantaBarbaraCA.com.

Fran Endicott Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury focused freelance feature writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites, editor-at-large for JustLuxe.com, a Forbes Travel Guide inspector, and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist. Prior to her journalism career she held positions in the fields of politics, television, and professional sports, and is proud to have esta...(Read More)