Monthly Archives: April 2015

Food and Wine Fun at Fork & Cork Classic


Julienne’s Justin West and Winemaker Blair Fox to Be Honored at Montecito Country Club on May 3



In a calendar crammed with food and wine events that raise money for worthy causes, Santa Barbarans struggle to select which to attend; however, if you rely on a formula that adds breathtaking setting with impact of the charity involved, multiplies that with the quality of purveyors, and then divides that by number of attendees, you’ll find the Fork &Cork Classic at the top of the list.

Just in its second year — though somewhat a spinoff of the former Taste of the Nation event — the Foodbank fundraiser is May 3 at the Montecito Country Club, where the region’s top kitchens and booze makers will serve only about 600 people. This year, the event will honor winemaker Blair Fox (who makes Fess Parker’s many wines as well as his own personal labels – click here to learn more) and Julienne restaurant’s Justin West (whose late father founded a similar event in Oregon 25 years ago).

To get a better sense of the event, I sat down with both of them over a bottle of Clementine Carter saison-cider last week. Here’s what they had to say.

Justin West: I got involved when we did a fundraising dinner for the Foodbank at Julienne and raised $3,200. We also took part in a James Beard national dish competition as the only Santa Barbara restaurant involved; L.A. was represented by 12 restaurants, San Francisco had 20, New York had 15 or something like that. We had to come up with a dish to serve for the entire month, with $1 from each going to charity. It was an Instagram competition, so to the city with the most hash tags won $10,000 for a charity of their choosing. We jumped into the fight, and somehow we won. I have no idea how it happened. It’s a real grassroots story. We galvanized the locals and beat out all the major cities in the country. We almost raised $14,000 for the Foodbank.

Blair Fox: It’s an honor to be honored. I’ve given my Blair Fox wines for a Foodbank fundraiser dinner, but I think the award is about what I do with winemaking in this entire county. I make a lot of wine, 100,000-plus cases. Blair Fox Cellars is like 1,000, and Fox Wine is like 1,000, but Parker Station pinot is almost 30,000, and our Fess Parker Santa Barbara County chardonnay, which is a fantastic wine for the money, is 30,000 cases. My own stuff is where I try to keep my hands dirty, where I’m not just telling someone else what to do. I like to do the punch-downs, to be the one loading the press. At 100,000 cases, I can’t do it all. I came from that small winemaking background, and I try to keep it all like a small winemaker would, but I just have people to help out.

JW: I come from a family that likes to give back. The restaurant’s business is about feeding people, but it’s a shame and an irony that we only care about feeing the people that have the money to pay the check at the end of the meal. We should be concerned with feeding everybody. That’s where my heart is in being involved with an organization like the Foodbank. I’ve got kids, and the thought of not being able to feed my kids breaks my heart. My son is 2½, and he’s a machine — he eats so much, and it’s constant. If I didn’t have the ability to feed him, I don’t know what life would be like.

The Foodbank is great to work with because you can directly feel the impact that have on the community. And who knows? I could be on the list of people who need help one day. Life is a crazy game.

BF: What we serve will depend on the weather. If it’s warm, we’ll serve a crisp white like our vermentino. That wine is so great with shellfish; it has this briny, mineral character. And being born and raised in this town and knowing lots of people, everyone is looking for my syrah. Maybe Budi [Kazali, of The Ballard Inn] will make his short rib. That’s great with syrah.

JW: This year, I am getting two suckling pigs, and that’s gonna be cool for me because at the event up in Oregon that my dad started, every year, one of our signature things was a whole roasted pig. Now, we were in the barbecue business, so we had a smoker big enough that the three of us could have gone in there and sang “Kumbaya.” I don’t have that, but the idea of a whole roasted pig is still there.

And I’ve carved myself out as the whole-animal guy here in town. I’ve been consistently dedicated to it. It’s not a gimmick. It’s a way of cooking for me. There’s something to be said in feeding many people off of one animal as opposed to ordering many cases of the same cut to feed the same amount of people. From a sustainability standpoint, it streamlines things a lot. I can say I bought this one animal, and this is how many meals it created, as opposed to buying 20 pork tenderloins. There’s only two per animal, so you killed 15 pigs to make that one case.

I’m gonna whole-roast them and butcher them onsite. We’ll have nectarine mustard because we got a fresh case of nectarines and make some of my family’s barbecue sauce.




SB Seasons: Good Wine and Good Causes


A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara winemakers are a generous bunch. They constantly get hit up to donate wine to charitable events, and do so with stunning regularity, often pouring the wine themselves, and always with affable smiles on their faces.

A few causes that are particularly near and dear to the wine/food community have their own fundraising events coming up soon, and lucky us, we get to sip and savor and support them in style!

Coming up on May 3 is the 2nd annual Fork & Cork Classic, which brings food and wine aficionados together to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank. Held at the Montecito Country Club, this delicious fundraiser features tastings from an array of select wines and special dishes prepared by over 20 of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants and chefs, including Bella Vista at the Four Seasons, Blue Owl, Ca’DarioEmpty Bowls Noodle Bar, Finch & Fork, Industrial Eats, Jessica Foster Confections, Julienne, Montecito Country Club, Patxi’s, Santa Barbara Yacht Club, Succulent Cafe, The Secret Ingredient, The Pasta Shoppe and Whole Foods.

Participating wineries include Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ampelos Cellars, Beckmen Vineyards, Blair Fox Vineyards,Consilience, Marianella & Tre Anelli, CORE Family Winery and Deep Sea by Conway Family Wines.

Additional wineries include Falcone Family Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Nagy Wines,Pegasus Estate Winery, Scott Cellars, Silver Wines LLC, Turiya Wines, William James Cellars, Whitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Wineyards.

Also pouring are Ascendant Spirits, Caribbean Coffee Company, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Island Brewing Company, Pressed Juicery, The Real McCoy Rum and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

100% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Foodbank’s 300 local nonprofit partners who supply nutritious meals to Santa Barbara County residents. Last year alone, the Foodbank served 140,575 people—over 25% of the local population, including 50,000 children.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit


April 9 – Foxen Canyon Wineries Hold Food Drive

Foxen Canyon Wineries Hold Food Drive For County Food Bank

From Los Olivos to the Santa Maria Valley, the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail stretches for miles, and in hopes of bringing in more customers the wineries, they are holding a special event.

Tim Snider, of Fess Parker Winery, said, “What we’re trying to do is build awareness again for all these great wineries that are out here and at the same time help the less fortunate
in the community.”

The trail is holding a food drive for the Santa Barbara County Food Bank and those who donate will get something to sip on return.

“They can come on out bring two cans of food and get a complementary wine tasting,”
said Snider.

The Foxen Canyon wineries have done a food drive before, but this time they are
trying to go bigger.

John Tevis, of Foxen, Winery said, “We did a little bit of one last year during Christmas time, but it was just a few wineries. Now we’ve got all the wineries on board and we’re really
taking it to the next level.”

Over a dozen wineries are participating in the drive, which last through April 22, and since it started during March they have already seen the donations rolling in.

“It’s been really well received so far and we are excited about it,” explained Tevis.

The wine trail is hoping this event will bring more people into their tasting rooms,
but most importantly giving back.

The group is planning on holding the drive again next year and is hopeful this event
will be a win-win for everyone.

Participating Wineries Include:

Kenneth Volk
Cambria Estate
Cottonwood Canyon
Tres Hermanas
Rancho Sisquoc
Martian Ranch
Fess Parker Winery
Zaca Mesa