story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 4/29/16
|The Vintners' 5-Miler is open to runners of all abilities and ages (courtesy pic)|
After a hit inaugural run last year, the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation is bringing back its jog through the vines on Saturday, July 23rd. The five-mile race promises commemorative gold, silver and bronze wine medals for winners in a variety of age categories. But the main draw may well be the course, itself: runners will be trekking across historic Sanford & Benedict Vineyard.
“The setting is truly special,” says Shelby Sim, Executive Director of Visit Santa Ynez Valley, who ran last year’s race alongside his then-12-year-old son, Aiden (who beat his das by eight minutes). The pair is signing up again this year. “At some points, you’re running right through the blocks. You couldn’t get any closer to the vines."
|Go Neon! Shelby Sim and son Aiden at the 2015 Vintners' 5-Miler starting line. Aiden will finish 8 minutes before his dad.|
The storied vineyard was planted in the early 1970s by Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict and is considered by many as the birthplace of wine production in Santa Barbara County. There have been subsequent plantings, the most recent within the last decade, but grapes from those original vines are still used in some Sanford Winery pinot noir bottlings to this day. “This race is an authentic opportunity to be amongst the farming aspect of the wine drinking,” Mr. Sim adds.
Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is located along Santa Rosa Road in Lompoc, inside the famous Sta. Rita Hills AVA.
The five-mile course is designed for runners of all abilities. It begins at 9am at the Sanford Winery tasting room and features relatively flat terrain for the first two miles. Runners then take on gently rolling hills to an elevation of 350 feet, where sweeping wine country views prevail. In late July, harvest season is a few weeks away, so the 500-acre ranch is typically marked by row after row of verdant vines.
The final two miles of the course are primarily downhill.
|A festival with music, food and wine follows the Vintners' 5-Miler (courtesy)|
This year, the event also features a One-Mile Wine Walk for those who’d rather take a leisurely stroll through the vineyard.
The race is followed by a wine festival, featuring live music from local bands, a kids’ fun zone and a wide array of food purveyors, including Buellton’s Hitching Post II Restaurant. Wineries will be announced soon; last year’s pourers included high-profile labels like Sanford, Foxen, Casa Dumetz, Costa de Oro and Crawford Family Wines.
Registration for the run and festival is $50 through April 30th and then goes to $65 during the month of May and jumps to $80 for sign-ups in June and July. Because the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Santa Barbara Vintners, monies raised will be earmarked for a variety of local charitable causes, including Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, People Helping People of the Santa Ynez Valley and Direct Relief.
To sign up, click here.