Summer Party: Santa Barbara's Natural History Museum to Host City's Premier Wine Festival

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
photos by Bob Dickey
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 5/24/18

The Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival changed its name just last year. Organizers at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the storybook setting for this annual wine fete, added the Food reference to reflect the culinary wow factor. This festival has grown, in fact, to become a feast for the taste buds, as it’s where dozens of the region’s top chefs converge.
 
To name a few: Bob’s Well Bread; The Bear & Star; Barbareño; Hitching Post II; The Lark; Industrial Eats; Finch & Fork; Les Marchands, Loquita; and Via Maestra 42. Longtime faves like Brophy Bros. and new arrivals like Blue Water Grill will serve up, too. Local foodie celebs like caterer Michael Hutchings and confectioners Jessica Foster will also be there.
 
So, you won’t go hungry when you go on June 30th.
 
The setting alone -- the oak-shrouded grounds of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History -- is a major draw
But make no mistake: the Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival stays true to its wine roots. This may be the one festival where winemakers show up because they want to, not because they contractually have to. It’s the interaction with the crowd – winemakers engage with a captive, cheery crowd that’s there as much for the gourmet extravaganza as for the dependably sunny afternoon, along a creek, under the oaks. For those who pout, it’s also a lot about comradery, in a relaxed setting, in the middle of the wine grape growing season, several weeks before the rigors of harvest come calling.
 
Doug & Marni Margerum and Richard Sanford
Consider: Santa Barbara County’s first winemakers have been attending this even – laying claim to the same pouring spot, actually – for more than 30 years. “That first year, I remember pouring wines from bottles that didn’t have labels on them yet,” Alma Rosa Winery’s Richard Sanford once told me; the man who instinctively planted his first vines near Lompoc in 1971 is a legend.
 
Guys like Jim Clendenen, Bob Lindquist, Ken Brown, Fred Brander and Doug Margerum are there. Drake Whitcraft used to come here as a kid, when his dad, the late great Chris Whitcraft, doled out pinot and chardonnay; he’s doing the doling out now.  Among the dozens of other labels in attendance: Kaena; Area 5.1; Babcock, Blair Fox; Brewer-Clifton; Casa Dumetz; Carr; Tatomer; Sandhi; Fess Parker; Folded Hills; Tercero.
 
You won’t go thirsty, either.
 
And you may not even go empty-handed. The Every Cork Wins raffle ensures everyone’s a winner: pay $40, pull a cork, and win a guaranteed prize valued at least $40 (some are valued in the hundreds).
 
Winemaker Matt Brady and Blair Fox
The 2018 Santa Barbara Wine & Food Festival takes place Saturday, June 30th, from 2-5pm.  Tickets are $100, or $75 for museum members.  For $125, upgrade to the VIP Lounge and get early admission, chair massages and exclusive food and wine pairings. Buy tickets through the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History website, sbnature.
 
The money raised by this event, close to $100,000, funds enrichment programs for more than 40,000 California students who come to the Museum each year to learn about natural history.
 
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