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This article originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (October 9, 2015). Ask any winemaker and they will tell you that wine is made in the vineyard. It is not possible to make good wine from bad grapes. And, vineyards are not stagnant, offering variety. So, whether you own a vineyard or purchase fruit from a grower, winemakers are very careful in selecting their vineyards. Case in point, Larner Vineyard, situated in Ballard Canyon in Santa Ynez. Larner Vineyard, Ballard Canyon Ballard Canyon is located between Santa Ynez Mountains, a transverse mountain range, to the south and the San Rafael Mountains, created by the San Andreas Fault, to the north. Ballard Canyon is in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and is the home to 17 vineyards and six producers. The Pacific Ocean is 17 miles to the west and fog comes in and burns off by 11:30 a.m. By 12:30 p.m. there is a cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean. Specializing in Rhone varietals, Ballard Canyon became an AVA in October 2013. Of the 600 acres planted, 300 of the acres are planted to Syrah. Larner Vineyard was planted in 1999 by founding family members Stevan, Christine, Monica and Michael Larner. Sitting at an elevation of 500-680 feet above sea level, the property is a total of 134 acres with 34 acres planted and 30-40 acres still to plant. The varietals planted are Syrah (23 acres), grenache (6 acres), viognier (2.5 acres), mourvedre (2 acres) and malvasia bianca (1.4 acres). The Larner Vineyard has transitioned from sustainable to organic and is in the process of being certified.
Are you a Food Network Junkie? If so, you probably saw the new culinary competition All-Star Academy in which ten home cooks across the country were paired with Food Network famous chefs. If not, here's a quick update. After eight episodes, it came down to two finalists and Santa Barbara local Vanessa Craig was one of them. Paired with Chef Michael Symon, she was energetic, spunky and lots of fun to watch. Sadly she didn't win the final prize but 2nd place isn't shabby! After the national exposure and now that the show is over, Vanessa is back home in Santa Barbara. Her passion is to share her love for food and her love of Santa Barbara and is now a private chef and caterer with her newly launched business Vanessa Loves Food. Vanessa Craig in the kitchen
Traditionally, La Paulée is a Burgundian celebration held at the end of the grape harvest. So, hosting "La Paulée", which comes from the French word for sauté pan, poile, during the Santa Barbara Celebration of Harvest Festival, was fitting.....and lots of fun. To kick off the Celebration of Harvest weekend, La Paulée was hosted on Friday night. In addition to a ticket to the event, the only other requirement is to bring a bottle of wine with you. This BYO event does not mean that you grab the first bottle you find or run to the supermarket on your way. What you want to do is look into your collection of wines and bring something that you are proud to share. Santa Barbara Cebration of Harvest Fesitval La Paulee