Calling All Taste Buds: Bacara Brings Back Santa Barbara Culinary Fete

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo

Foodie alert: the 2nd Annual Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend returns to Santa Barbara's Bacara Resort & Spa on April 16-19.  This year, the four-day affair is headlined by actor/vintner Kurt Russell and culminates with a Saturday night Grand Dinner featuring Mr. Russell’s GoGi label, the Hudson-Bellamy label by his step-daughter, actress Kate Hudson, and the Ampelos label from Santa Barbara's Sta. Rita Hills AVA.

Kurt Russell (credit Justin Melnick)
“This is going to be fun, because it’s serious food and serious wine,” Mr. Russell told me during a recent interview from the Colorado set of his latest film, Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.  “It’s high-end, which is where I want to be and where I want my wine to be used, perceived and drunk.”  

Along with the Hudson Bellamy sauvignon blanc and the Ampelos 2011 Syrah, the marquee dinner will feature three GoGi wines: the 2012 Chardonnay dubbed "Goldie" (an homage to Mr. Russell's longtime love interest, actress Goldie Hawn) and the 2011 Angelbaby Pinot Noir (a tribute to his younger sister, Jami Way).  The GoGi "Lulu" Viognier, which is made exclusively for Mr. Russell's mother, Louise, and which is not available commercially, will also be poured.

Bacara Resort & Spa is a AAA 4-Diamond resort
The 2nd Annual Santa Barbara Wine & Food Weekend features a cavalcade of other gourmet events:

April 17 at 10am, Winemaker for a Day ($225)
This offsite event takes guests one a five-hour excursion into the Santa Ynez Valley for private tours and tastings with the winemakers at Lincourt, Firestone and Foley Estates, all part of Foley Family Wines.  Transportation from Bacara and lunch included

April 18 at 10am, The Scoop About Julia’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian (Free)
A personal conversation about the installation of Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian, as well as topics on food history.  Paula Johnson, curator at the National Museum of American history in Washington, DC, is among the speakers.

April 18 at 12:30pm, California Seafood Lunch ($59)
Celeb restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and David Lentz of Lucques, Tavern and Hungry Cat fame present a locally-inspired lunch of cod ceviche, slow-roasted salmon and more.  Paired with local purveyors, including Crazy Good Bread Co., McConnell’s Ice Cream and Alma Rosa Wine.

April 18 at 8pm, A Year in Champagne ($25)
A documentary showing in Bacara’s 211-seat state-of-the-art Screening Room, highlighting Champagne’s history and how its sparkling wine is made.  Glass of bubbly and tastings of chocolates by Chocolate Maya included.

April 19 at 11am, Neighborhood Tasting & Market ($50 adults, $20 kids)
Bacara’s courtyard becomes a snapshot of Santa Barbara top culinary neighborhoods, with food and wine samplings from the Funk Zone, the Presidio, the Arts District, the Santa Barbara Public Market, old Town Goleta and the Santa Ynez Valley. 

Myriad seminar options include a panel discussion on local beekeeping and honey making, a guided tasting of Foley Family Wines, classes on chocolate truffle- and tamale-making and a cooking demo of famed chef Julia Child’s favorite recipes.  The four-day event benefits the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts, which was launched by the late Ms. Child in 1995 to fund culinary research and to provide culinary scholarships throughout the country.

“Some of Julia’s relatives are also hosting a chat,” says Bacara GM Kathleen Cochran.  “I think that if Julia were still alive, she’d attend every single one of these events!”

Bacara has sold 60 all-access VIP passes ($599) thus far, up from the one they sold last year, and they’ve booked more than 200 room nights over the event weekend.

“That tells you something,” adds Mrs. Cochran.

Click here for the full lineup of events.

For tickets to the Food & Wine Weekend, go to  For more on GoGi, check out


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