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Wine country travel: Two Central Coast wine events coming up

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Santa Rita Hills Wine and Fire Weekend Celebration

Coming up soon — this Friday through Sunday — Wine and Fire Weekend Celebration in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County. Go up for a day or the weekend. It kicks off Friday with a barn party at Sanford and Benedict with fire-grilled flatbreads and live music — and dancing ($48 per person). Drop in Saturday morning for a seminar with Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar newsletter featuring a dozen Santa Rita Hills producers and lunch grilled by the Hitching Post 2 restaurant. That’s $150, but if you buy a combo ticket for $189, it includes the afternoon Grand Tasting and a 3-day Tasting Passport (normally $108).  Actually, as these wine events go, the ticket prices for Wine and Fire Weekend Celebration are fairly reasonable.

Some of the side events sound appealing too, such as Brewer-Clifton’s wine and cheese pairing seminar with Santa Barbara’s C’est Cheese shop. Or Steve Clifton’s personal tour of Machado Vineyard and wine country picnic. How about a barrel tasting accompanied by grilled steak sandwiches and cheese at Fiddlehead Cellars? Some participating wineries will be giving discounts on wines too. Buy tickets online here.  And if you can’t get up there this weekend, download a copy of the Santa Rita Hills touring map for a visit on your own.

Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend

OK, this is thinking ahead, but mark your calendars for Oct. 18-20 for Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend. More than 130 area wineries invite wine buffs into their tasting rooms, vineyards and wineries for tours and special tastings. The giddy whirl of events includes dinners with winemakers, and just to make it more high-toned, educational seminars.

How about wine and pie pairings? That’s a new one on me, and get out those clogs for folk dancing. There's a little bit of everything, even a blending seminar and lessons in wine-scent profiling. Is there a job in that? I don’t understand, though, how any winemaker would be happy to find their wines used for sangria-making lessons.

This is one wine country event that does not require tickets, though some wineries may require RSVPs or tack on a fee for a special event. For example, August Ridge Winery, which specializes in Italian varietals, will be cooking up Italian sausage sandwiches for $5. J. Lohr will be putting on a lobster feed for $85 a person. And Tablas Creek Vineyards is holding a five-course dinner at Cass House Inn that is limited to 32 and priced at $140 per person. 

Visit the winery activities link on pasowine.com and search by winery, day or activity to see what is happening throughout the weekend at participating wineries. Some events are limited, so be sure to check in early.

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