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“Showcasing the Region’s Diversity… Annual Festival to be held in Santa Ynez Valley”

 The 100+ members of the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association will herald the arrival of spring and the beginning of the new vintage at their 30

The Festival will return to the Santa Ynez Valley on the pastoral grounds of “The Carranza”. “As the festivalhas grown over the past 30 years, we look for venues that not only will accommodate all of our vintners andguests, but that also beautiful locations on earth”, states Jim Fiolek, Executive Director of the Association. “We’re excited about holding the Festival at “The Carranza”, a meadow tucked into a valley created by Zaca Creek as it leaves Foxen Canyon. We strive to move our venue to different areas every few years to allow our guests to see firsthand the many microclimates that support growing a diverse assortment of grape varieties.” The Carranza is located on Zaca Station Road between The Firestone Vineyards and Highway 154, northwest of Los Olivos, California.A longtime tradition, the 30th annual Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival heralds the arrival of the new
will be complemented by a delectable array of culinary delights from area chefs, specialty food purveyors and caterers. Two live bands, wine related exhibitions and a silent auction to benefit local charities will round out the day. “Great wines, superb food and friendly people – doesn’t get any better than that!” states Fiolek. “What better way to start off the spring season and the new vintage. Join us!”

The 30th Annual Vintners’ Festival will be held on April 21st, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at The Carranza, Los Olivos. In addition to the Festival itself, member wineries are planning open houses, winemaker dinners and special tastings throughout the weekend, and a four day “Vintners’ Visa” passport to 12 participating wineries is also being offered through the Association. For complete details and tickets, visit the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association website at www.SBCountyWines.com, or call the Association office at (805) 688-0881.



--Rooftop lounge with spectacular views of the Empire State building and New York City skyline will offer complimentary use of room for groups of up to 80 persons --

Top of the Strand lounge in The Strand Hotel NYC, recently named 2011’s“Best View from a Rooftop Bar” by TimeOut New York announces it will waive room rental for groups of up to 80 persons.  A $6,000.00 bar minimum is required for the evening.  There is literally nowhere else in New York City that can put you in a ‘New York State of Mind’ quite like the The lounge, designed by Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada set designer Lydia Marks is an intimate chic setting featuring a sleek bar serving top-shelf liquor and custom cocktails, comfortable lounges and  day beds a la the famous Nikki Beach, all in  warm winter Ralph Lauren fabrics.  Views of the skyline are visible from every angle of the lounge.

View of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Strand

Opened in 2009 as New York’s first fashion hotel, The Strand Hotel is considered an homage to the iconic fashion figures, décor and style that defined a generation and an industry. This is evident immediately upon entering the hotel with historic fashion prints throughout the lobby; a striking tiered amber-hued chandelier hanging from upper to lower lobby, dramatic, tapered mahogany columns and a two-story water wall showcasing glimmer drops behind a contemporary glass spiral staircase leading to the ground floor. 

Throughout the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms are black and white vintage prints from the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, taken by photographers Clifford Collin, Richard Rutledge, Eduard Steichen, John Rawlings, Toni Frissel and Lusha Nelson and others. The fashion theme is continued through the guestrooms, each capturing the glamour and elegance of Old Hollywood with Bogart-style furnishings, art-deco style boudoir chairs, decadent color schemes, luxurious baths outfitted in imported slate and marble; high-end bedding and linens, and plush bathrobes and slippers.  The piece de resistance is the New York City views from all 177 guestrooms; views of true New York City-scapes including legendary water towers and the Empire State building. 

                In addition to unique accommodations and art, the fashion theme continues in the American Bistro Restaurant and Bar featuring a “Den” with a working fireplace as centerpiece.  The Strand American Bistro is a 115-seat venue with a signature alabaster bar and lounge featuring classic American cuisine.   The interiors of this urban bistro were created by renowned New York City designer Chris Smith.  The restaurant features original artwork and fashion photographs throughout; including a stunning backdrop in the main dining room is a 6 x 28-foot masterpiece entitled “Hemaspora” by San Francisco-based artist Rex Ray. 

                For New Yorkers “in the know,” Top of the Strand is a hip urban retreat; Manhattan meets Nikki Beach, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.  An intimate glass-enclosed bar lounge designed by Sex and the City”, “Devil Wears Prada” set designer, Lydia Marks, Top of the Strand features unobstructed views of historic New York City buildings, landmarks including the Empire State Building.  The lounge area offers day beds outfitted seasonally providing a sanctuary within the concrete surroundings of New York.  Live entertainment is featured weekly along with an extensive selection of custom drinks. 

All Aboard the Green Train!

For Central Coast Winery Pomar Junction, Sustainability Is A Way of Life

 At Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country, sustainability is more than just a passing trend – it’s a way of life.

In fact, when the Central Coast Vineyard Team set out to establish a comprehensive set of standards by which vineyard operators could measure and model their commitment to environmental stewardship, equitable treatment of employees and economic stability, Pomar Junction Owner Dana Merrill was invited to help design them.  Recognizing that Merrill’s 30-year history of vineyard management had been marked by a constant pursuit of the most ecologically-responsible and humanitarian methods for raising high-quality grapes, the Vineyard Team counted his input as critical. Unveiled in 2004, the Sustainability In Practice (SIP) Certification Standards have quickly become a benchmark of accountability to both producers and consumers alike. 

"As one of the founding members of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, and the founding President for many years, Dana and I often reflect on how proud we are of our grower-based non-profit that administers the SIP Program," said Central Coast Vineyard Team Executive Director, Kris Beal. "Even in our wildest dreams, I don't think we could have imagined how well the industry and community would respond to our programs." In fact, last year the Central Coast Vineyard Team held its wildly popular Earth Day Food & Wine Festival Main Event at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery for the first time to rave reviews.  With picturesque vistas of sustainably-farmed vines as far as the eye can see, an olive grove and ancient oak trees over a generous central lawn, Pomar Junction proved an ideal venue for visitors to sample over 200 purveyors of sustainably-produced foods and wine. The Main Event will once again be held at Pomar Junction on April 21 from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.  


Unlike organic or biodynamic certifications which address a discreet set of growing practices, the SIP standards look at the interrelated elements of the whole farm system, including habitat conservation, energy efficiency, pest management, water conservation, economic stability, and human resources.  In order to qualify for certification, growers must have their practices verified through in-depth records and on-site audits by accredited independent inspectors. A separate Certification Advisory Committee then determines eligibility based on reports from auditors. 

Given Merrill’s integral relationship with the Vineyard Team, his Pomar Junction Vineyard became a sort of model for defining the SIP Certification Standards, and thus, became the first SIP-Certified vineyard.  Today, over 100 vineyards are either certified or in-process to becoming so, from Napa to Santa Barbara County. 

On the environmental side, specific sustainable farming practices at Pomar Junction include:

  • Soil Fertility Preservation: Cover crops between vineyard rows help control erosion and overall soil health.  A wildflower mix is also critical for producing pollen and nectar that attracts beneficial insects and maintains insect equilibrium in the vineyard.  Pomar Junction has not had to spray for insects for over two years as a result.
  • Water Preservation: When irrigation is necessary, Pomar Junction uses drip irrigation to deliver water directly to the vine.  Flow meter equipment measures precisely how much water is used, and pump efficiency tests ensure against waste.  Pomar Junction also collects all wastewater from the winery and re-uses it to put on the dirt roads.  This helps keep the dust down so that mites do not become a problem.
  • Biologically Integrated Farming System: Holistic preparations such as an orange extract oil helps in desiccating, drying and loosening of certain molds in the vineyard.  While it knocks down mite webbing and dissolves unwanted bug excretions, it also improves the effectiveness of the winery’s fungicide treatments.
  • Social Responsibility: Taking care of its employees is fundamental to Pomar Junction’s sustainable business model. “I can proudly say that we are one of the few companies around that provides health insurance and a 401k plan to all of our employees including seasonal hires,” said Merrill. “We use a system to bring back our experience employees and we try to promote from within. Our retained employee percentage has always been high as both employer and employee value the relationship on a multi-year basis.”  Pomar Junction also offers a very strong employee safety program that includes monthly management meetings and trainings throughout the year. 


 As consumers become savvier about sustainable wines, Pomar Junction has incorporated educational ag tours on their estate vineyard in Templeton to demonstrate the benefits of environmentally-conscious farming first-hand.  Visits include a ride through the vines on a tractor-pulled gondola that seats up to 20 passengers, a discussion led by Owner Dana Merrill himself, and a sumptuous picnic lunch.  For more information or to book a tour, visit www.PomarJunction.com or email Info@PomarJunction.com. 

For more information and tickets to the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, visit www.EarthDayFoodAndWine.com.    

Owned and operated by the Merrill Family in the Paso Robles AVA, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery showcases eight generations of Central Coast farming through deeply characterful estate wines.  With a rich heritage of sustainable practices in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar, Pomar Junction guides estate fruit from vine to glass with a narrow focus on purity of flavor and varietal integrity.  The winery name refers to the Merrill Family’s concurrent lineage of railroad engineers as well as to bygone days when the Southern Pacific Railroad was responsible for the development of the picturesque Central Coast.  For more information about Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, call (805) 238-9944, or visit www.PomarJunction.com.  The Pomar Junction vineyard and tasting room are located at 5036 S. El Pomar Road in Templeton, CA 93465.

Fourth Annual Gourmet & Grapes Benefitting Hollings Cancer To Feature Celebrated Chef Sean Brock and Friends at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

May 4-6, 2012

Weekend-long Cuisine and Wine Event to Feature a Gala on the Atlantic, Leading Chefs of the Southeast, and the Finest Wines From Around the World

Feb. 29, 2012, CHARLESTON, SC – The Fourth Annual Gourmet & Grapes benefitting the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina will take place May 4-6, 2012 at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The event, a weekend-long culinary extravaganza, is the only fundraiser in the Lowcountry that brings together renowned chefs and winemakers to raise money for cancer research.

Headlining Gourmet & Grapes’ signature black tie event is Executive Chef Sean Brock, of Husk and McCrady’s of Charleston. An all star team of noted chefs will join Brock in preparing a multi-course wine dinner featuring Row Eleven Winery, Heitz Wine Cellars and Trinchero Wine Estates while being served in The Sanctuary’s Ocean Room. The Ocean Room is the only steakhouse in the US to earn both Forbes 4 Star and AAA 4 Diamond ratings.

When asked about this year’s event Chef Brock exclaimed, “We are really excited to be participating in the Gourmet & Grapes weekend for its fourth year; it is going to be an amazing time. This event supports a great cause in the Hollings Cancer Center… a great event, for a great cause! We are looking forward to working with everyone at such a beautiful venue!”

In addition to Friday’s exquisite wine dinner and black tie event, the following are highlights of the Gourmet & Grapes Weekend:

  • Luncheon & Wine Trail: (May 5, 2012) Participants interact with a guest chef as a multi-course lunch is prepared in front of them. Guests learn key techniques while enjoying masterfully-paired wines and a view that only The Sanctuary’s Ocean Room can provide. After lunch, participants can explore the lush gardens of The Sanctuary while tasting exclusive varieties from international wineries and meeting the winemakers.
  • Wine Odyssey Gala: (May 5, 2012) Participants enjoy food stations presented by some of the finest local and regional chefs along with wine pairings on the Terrace Lawn overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Participants meet the chefs and sample brilliant wines and bid on a wide-range of items during this silent- and live-auction gala, all while enjoying live entertainment and dancing into the night with champagne and chocolate afterglow.
  • Farewell Brunch: (May 6, 2012) Participants celebrate the weekend and salute the chefs at this seaside brunch sponsored by Moet Hennessy as they toast and celebrate a successful weekend at a true Lowcountry brunch on the Grand Lawn with build-your-own Bloody Mary bar by Belvedere Vodka.

Since its inception in 2009, Gourmet & Grapes has raised close to $500,000 dollars for cancer research programs at Hollings Cancer Center. With stagnant federal funding, this contribution has proved invaluable in the cancer research conducted in South Carolina.  For more information on the Hollings Cancer Center’s Gourmet & Grapes, visit www.gourmetandgrapes.com.

The Hollings Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in South Carolina and one of just 66 NCI centers in the country. This distinction is based on the depth and breadth of research at Hollings and places the cancer center among the elite research institutions in the nation.

Located just south of Charleston, South Carolina, along 10 miles of pristine beach, Kiawah Island Golf Resort was recently named the No. 1 golf resort on the U.S. Mainland by readers of the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler magazine.  The publication also named Kiawah as the No. 3 overall resort on the U.S. Mainland.  Tennis magazine named it the No. 3 tennis resort in the U.S. Kiawah Island is also known as one of the top eco-friendly resorts in the U.S., and its beach was named one of the 10 best beaches in America by famed “beachologist,” Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach.  In addition to The Sanctuary, the resort manages over 500 private villas and luxury homes, nine restaurants, two tennis centers, a renowned recreation and nature program and has five championship golf courses, including The Ocean Course, host of the 1991 Ryder Cup and this year’s PGA Championship.


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