Cocktail Corner: A Veritable Buffet of Vino News & Events

Posted on Sep 18 by Leslie Dinaberg

Courtesy Bacara Resort & Spa

Courtesy Bacara Resort & Spa

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

I don’t know if it’s the early harvest, the crazy weather, or just that time of year, but my inbox is bursting with wine news these days. We’re barking about a taste of Verona at the Bacara, Doug Margerum’s new Barden wines, Groundboots charity wine label and Wandering Dog Wine Bar’s new vintages in today’s Cocktail Corner.

Here’s a look at what’s going on in the wine world:

A Taste of Verona Returns 

Bacara Resort & Spa welcomes Fumanelli Winery for an operatic evening by the sea with Verona’s top winemaker, Armando Fumanelli, proprietor of Marchesi Fumanelli Winery. The winery dates back hundreds of years, and in that spirit, the Bacara is partnering with Opera Santa Barbara to enhance the Italian-themed event.

“The Fumanelli family has been cultivating grapes and producing prestigious wines for more than 600 years,” says Kathleen Cochran, managing director of Bacara Resort & Spa. “We are honored to offer guests the rare opportunity to dine with a winemaker of this magnitude.”

Photo courtesy Bacara Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy Bacara Resort & Spa

Diners will enjoy four Fumanelli wines personally selected by Armando Fumanelli, paired with an elegant reception and three-course Italian-inspired tasting menu by Executive Chef Vincent Lesage. Each course will be preceded by traditional Italian opera performances. The event takes place on Tuesday, September 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. The price is $150 per person. Space is limited and reservations are recommended (It sold out last year). For tickets and additional information, please call 877/496-8977 or visit

Margerum Wine Company’s New Barden Label Wines

Sometimes I think Doug Margerum must have figured out how to clone himself, he’s such a busy, talented winemaker! Fulfilling Margerum’s dream to create world-class wines using grapes from the renowned Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Margerum Wine Company recently released its new Barden label wines: Chardonnay, Fonte, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Barden is Doug’s middle name and literally translates into “one who lives near the boars den”—a nod also to the wild boars that roam the Sta. Rita Hills.

A little more on the wines:

Courtesy Margerum Wine

Courtesy Margerum Wine

Fonte: Described as “a blend of Chardonnay Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris picked for a balance of flavor and acidity. Barrel fermented in our 55 degree winery, inoculated for malolactic fermentation and batton-aged for 3 months. Aged 6 months sur-lie in 1 year old demi-muid, a neutral puncheon and a bit in stainless steel. Barden Fonte is a collection of rambling memories assembled to reflect the image we imagined it would be. A Fonte is fountain or spring.”

Chardonnay: Doug says, “we pick Chardonnay for opulent flavors, barrel ferment in our 55-degree winery, encourage full malolactic fermentation and it is batton-aged for 4 months. Aged 10 months sur-lie in about half new French oak barriques from Quintessence and François Frères and half in neutral French oak barriques. Barden Chardonnay. Apart but together again. Ours is a path less taken, an assemblage of noble places, temptresses and impossible loves.”

On the Pinot Noir: “We hand sorted and a percentage (depending on the vintage) is whole cluster fermented, we do a 6-10 day cold soak, natural (wild) fermentation, only free-run wine used, no SO2 during maturation on full lees, bottled un-fined and unfiltered. This wine is matured for 10 months in mostly new French oak barriques from Françoise Frères and Ermitage. Barden Pinot Noir is formed so as to touch the heart, mind, body and soul. It’s wrapped in a cloak of mystery, lightly adorned, and respected. Ours is a swirling worldly vision, moody but aware. We dared and entered this world with trepidation. Pinot Noir is fiendishly complex…”

Syrah: “We ferment in a combination of 500 liter (heads off ) French oak puncheons and 400 liter open top insulated fermenters. The wine is aged in half new Françoise Frères and half new Ermitage French oak barrels,” says Doug. “Barden Syrah is shaped and sculptured. Its drapes reveal dark rooms full of the unknown; frightenly sinister, packed, and powerful. Syrah is our blood-right and our passion; we realize we are on the road to madness.”

All are available at select wine shops and restaurants, as well as at the Margerum Tasting Room in Santa Barbara and online.  The wines retail for $36-$82. For more information on Margerum and Barden wines please visit

Groundboots Wine Charity Label Launches to Support Soi Dog

Winemaker Deborah Hall of Gypsy Canyon in St. Rita Hills recently launched, a wine charity label which is crowdfunding to fundraise for and bring awareness to stopping the illegal dog meat trade through wine. She has designated 100% of profits to go to Soi Dog, an organization that has nearly eliminated it in Thailand, and are now moving into Vietnam, China, Korea, and other places,  rescuing and re-homing the survivors.

The campaign is running through September.

And in case you’re wondering about the “taste good” part of the wine, not just the “feel good” part, this Pinot Noir was hand-harvested from their estate vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills. Cluster sorted at the vineyard, berry sorted at the winery. Aged 18 months in 50% new French oak.

According to Wine Enthusiast, the 2012 Ground Boots Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County gets 91 pts. “This wine by Gypsy Canyon’s Deborah Hall raises money for dogs in Thailand, but it’s certainly no gimmick. Deep aromas of black raspberry, cherry chiffon and dried violets mix with chipped slate, charred pine, morel mushrooms and turned loam. The palate shows sharp cranberry followed by graphite and herbal saps, with noticeable grip.”

Here’s a link:

Courtesy Ground Boots

Courtesy Ground Boots

Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar Expands Private Label Wine Program

More on the intersection between wine and dogs, Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar—incidentally a very fun, dog- and people-friendly spot—recently expanded its private label wine program from four labels to a current line-up of 14 wines, comprised of eight different, locally-grown varietals.

Each of the 14 wines are made by local winemakers/wineries, sourced from local vineyards, and each winemaker/winery is listed on the respective bottle; every winemaker is given full credit for the wines produced for Wandering Dog, in line with the wine bar’s mission to support and foster local vintners–from those just budding to established makers and brands.

Courtesy Wandering Dog

Courtesy Wandering Dog

Wandering Dog’s current releases include a sparkling (’12 “Bentley’s Bubbles”; Norm Yost, winemaker; Santa Maria Valley); ’14 Grüner Veltliner (Graham Tatomer, winemaker; Santa Ynez Valley); ’13 Chardonnay (Kevin Law, winemaker; Santa Maria Valley); ’14 “Mazzey” Viognier (Morgan Clendenon, winemaker; Santa Maria Valley); ’12 “Paige” Pinot Noir (Justin Willet, winemaker; La Encantada Vineyard); ’13 “Leila” Pinot Noir (Norm Yost, winemaker; Rio Vista Vineyard); ’13 “No Leashes” Pinot Noir (Doug Margerum, winemaker; Sta. Rita Hills); ’13 Super Tuscan (76% Sangiovese, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon; Chris Ferrara, winemaker; Paso Robles); ’13 Cabernet Sauvignon (Joshua Klapper, winemaker; Paso Robles); ’12 Zinfandel (Janell Dusi, winemaker; Dante Dusi Vineyard, Paso Robles); and ’12 “Lucy” Petite Sirah (Mark Horvath, winemaker; Viejo Vineyard, Ballard Canyon).

Upcoming releases will include a Syrah by winemaker Michael Larner, from Larner Vineyard grapes (Ballard Canyon).

Over the course of its eight years, Wandering Dog Wine Bar has, in addition to international imports, showcased wines from countless winemakers whose own labels were too small to justify the expense of a tasting room. As time passed, many of these producers expanded into their own locations, clearing the way for Wandering Dog to feature the next wave of winemaking superstars.

“This cycle has been instrumental in [Wandering Dog’s] success, but has had the side effect of ending professional relationships with winemakers who are more than an account–they are our friends,” says Wandering Dog Wine Bar’s “Director di Vino”, Charles “CT” Williams.

Courtesy Wandering Dog Wine Bar

Courtesy Wandering Dog Wine Bar

Wandering Dog Wine Bar first produced wines in this fashion with a 2005 vintage created by Norm Yost, of California Central Coast wine label, Flying Goat Cellars. Yost’s Pinot Noir, produced for Wandering Dog from Rio Vista Vineyard grapes, was affectionately named “Leila,” for CT’s childhood Newfoundland. Ever since, a good portion of Wandering Dog’s private label listing follows suit with names reflecting family canines of past and present. Now, in 2015, Wandering Dog has burgeoned beyond its “Signature Series” wines with its “No Leashes” program, focusing on popular wineries from past wine lists.

As is evident from the wine bar’s business name, and the tale behind its multiple, dog-honoring wine labels, Wandering Dog Wine bar is dedicated to all things “doggie”. Wandering Dog is decidedly dog-friendly and often hosts pet-related events and fundraisers, such as the upcoming October 3, 2015 “Pinot for Puppies”, a benefit for Shadow’s Fund’s “Bright Beginnings: Pit Bull Puppy Ambassador Program.

Wandering Dog Wine Bar is located at 1539-C Mission Drive (next to Paula’s Pancake House), in Solvang.

Cheers!  Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

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.”


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