27 Aug Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Barn Party Kick Off Event at The Hilt Winery for the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance Wine and Fire
I took a trip to Santa Ynez last week for a final series of interviews with winemakers for the Slow Wine Guide USA 2023. It turned out that it was also the weekend of the Sta. Rita Hills annual Wine & Fire event. I had attended Wine & Fire in past years, but not since the pandemic. While I could not stay for the entire weekend, I was able to attend the Barn Party Kick off Event at The Hilt Winery, the Please The Palate pick of the week.
The Sta. Rita Hills received AVA status in 2001. Located on the western side of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara Wine Country, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA benefits from the transverse mountain range that enables the fog and wind from the Pacific Ocean to moderate the summer heat. As a result, the Sta. Rita Hills, known for its “refrigerated sunshine” is one of the world’s best cool-climate viticulture areas for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The first vineyard in the area, the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, was planted in 1971. Today, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA is home to over 59 vineyards, totaling 2,700 hundred acres planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and 18 other cool climate wine grape varieties.
Wine & Fire is the signature event of the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance. The weekend is filled with wine dinners, tastings, and more. The Barn Party Kick Off Event took place at the beautiful Hilt Winery.
Twenty six wineries were present. Behind the tables were the winemakers and they were pouring library and large format wines. It was a casual walk-around tasting and then a country-style BBQ was served. Wine & Fire is a celebration of all the delicious wines and all of the wonderful people who make these wines.
Lisa & Michael from Sweetzer Cellars
Winemaker Samra Morris of Alma Rosa Winery
Stephen Janes with Barden Wines
Nikki Pallesen of Stars & Dust
Brandon Sparks of Dragonette
Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars
Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead Cellars
Mireia and Tara of Camins 2 Dreams
Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines
Seeing all of these familiar faces made it feel like I was home, which is why this event was the highlight of my week. Wine & Fire is an annual event that takes place each August, just before harvest starts. I look forward to next year!