If you find yourself gravitating toward Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills AVA time and time again, set aside this weekend for the wine region's annual Wine & Fire.
Every year the 50 or so members of the Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance put on the three-day event. It's a chance to meet the winemakers and growers, and also taste through some of the exceptional wines from this cool climate appellation.
Come for the entire weekend, or just for the day.
Friday starts things off with a barn party at Sanford Winery's Sanford & Benedict Barn ($64.80) where the first Santa Rita Hills wine was made. The party is billed as a La Paulee-style, meaning winemakers will stroll through the crowd with special bottles, pouring tastes. Guests are encouraged to bring wine too, for the community table or their own tables. And (the organizers are being very generous here), that wine doesn't even have to be from Santa Rita Hills.
Saturday morning features a two-hour seminar, blind tasting and lunch at Fiddlestix Vineyard (sorry, already sold out). Tickets are still available for the big event of the weekend, though, that afternoon's Grand Tasting from 5 to 8 p.m. at La Purisima Mission courtyard ($108). Forty winemakers will be pouring their Santa Rita Hills wines and local chefs (Hitching Post II, Los Amigos BBQ, Succulent Cafe, J & D Stone Oven Pizza and more) will be providing food.
The weekend ends with open houses at Wine & Fire Member wineries, including Carr Winery, Flying Goat, Foxen, Liquid Farm, Moretti Wine Co. — about 20 wineries in all. Check the schedule: A few of them are pouring all weekend long.
Tickets for the weekend's events can be purchased online here.