A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
The Goodland of Goleta got even better recently with the addition of a new wine tasting room at Bacara Resort & Spa.
Dubbed The Foley Food and Wine Society Experience (Yes, it’s a mouthful, but they’ve also got a LOT of great wines to back it up!), my husband and I were treated to the full Foley experience this week, and I have to say, it was a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.
Thanks to the gracious hospitality and good humor of assistant manager Lila Brown, we were able to taste some delectable wines, as well as learn about several of Foley Family Wines’ properties at the same time.
First up was a Chalk Hill 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, which had a refreshing citrus taste that I really liked. Not only was the wine good, but when Lila gave us a photographic tour of Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery (on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley, south of downtown Healdsburg in Sonoma County) including the onsite chef’s culinary garden, stables and Olympic-sized equestrian pavilion, a plan to visit immediately went on my bucket list. What a gorgeous place!
The concept behind The Foley Food & Wine Society is to bring together food, wine and travel, so each of the wineries in the collection has some sort of luxury destination or experience associated with it, which makes for a really fun way to learn about the wines you’re drinking and where they came from.
Next we tasted a 2009 Two Sisters Chardonnay from Foley Estates, right here in Santa Rita Hills. The “two sisters” are the Foley’s daughters Courtney and Lindsay, and as Lila explained, Courtney’s vineyard has the Chardonnay, while Lindsay’s grows Pinot Noir. We didn’t taste the Pinot this time, but the Chardonnay has lots of minerality, along with almond and vanilla flavors. I liked it.
I also liked the Kuleto 2010 Rosato, a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, especially when Lila told us that these grapes were dry farmed, European style with no irrigation, creating smaller yields of berries with more intense flavors.
Our fourth wine was a 2011 Robert’s Pinot Noir from Sebastiani. Yes, the Foley Family now owns the iconic Sebastiani label, which was established in 1904 and was one of only three wineries allowed to produce during prohibition, according to Lila. When I checked this fact on their website, I got a little bit more of the story: the prohibition-time wines were considered sacramental and medicinal wines. And, “It has been joked, and perhaps with some grain of truth, that during this time there was a resurgence of people becoming very religious.”
While Sebastiani was known for its table wines when I was a kid, it is now one of Sonoma County’s premier quality wine producers, and since becoming part of the Foley Family Wines in 2008, that brand cachet will continue to grow.
We went back to Kuleto Estate for our next tasting, a Kuleto 2008 Cabernet Franc which I loved. Lila described it as being “in the same family as Cabernet Sauvignon but a lighter style with softer tannins and a nice acidity.” I thought it was really delicious on its own and would be even better with food.
Our final wine was a 2009 Estate Red from Chalk Hill, a really rich and luscious wine, and a great way to cap off the night.
The new tasting room, open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and located in the courtyard at the front entrance to the Bacara, offers a variety of wine flight options at prices ranging from $10 to $25 for the “Build Your Dream Flight” of six tastings of whatever vintages you choose.
The four labels we tasted were just a sampling of what’s available in town now. Foley Family Wines owns the following properties now featured at the Bacara: Foley Estates (Santa Rita Hills), Lincourt Vineyards (Solvang), Foley Johnson (Napa Valley), Kuleto (Napa Valley), Altvs (Napa), Chalk Hill (Sonoma County), Sebastiani (Sonoma County), Lancaster Estate (Sonoma County), Three Rivers Winery (Walla Walla, WA), Firestone Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley) and Eos (Paso Robles).
We’ll definitely be back to taste again.
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When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”