Warm days, chilly nights, and the turning color of vineyards from deep green to oranges and yellow – all signs of the arrival of autumn in the valley. There is an exciting energy that comes with this time of year – grapes are ripened and ready to be turned into wine. Harvest is full-swing here in the Santa Ynez Valley. Jessy and I have been spending a few mornings each week helping a friend of ours at her winery. Each day is full – there are grapes being picked, crushed, soaked, pressed and put in barrel. It’s messy, delicious work; just last week I went home from a few hours covered in Pinot juice. I think it’s the magic of wine that I fell in love with. Watching winemaking up close I see that it is a labor of love – around here many wineries are built on very hard work, dedication to the craft, and an intense love of the power of wine. A bottle of wine can bring people together in conversation and community. A glass of wine can create a moment of peace, reflection, and connection to the earth in a unique way. Wine can turn a […]


I had to work pretty hard on Sunday night to keep my hand steady while holding a plastic cup of wine. I was laughing quite hard during the PCPA Theaterfest production of Spamalot and keeping myself from spilling was not an easy feat. I’m a relative newcomer to Spamalot and anything Monty Python, really. I’ve seen a few clips before and recognized some of the acts but I was surrounded by a theater full of folks who knew nearly every line of the show. We were all laughing and thoroughly enjoying every moment. I was sitting next to a friend who graciously let me know when I’d missed a joke (I must confess, I did have about a 10 second humor delay for the first half until I finally got in sync). My “Monty Python superfan friend” was quite impressed with the acting and repeatedly told me that it was acted just like the original. I didn’t have to recognize the scenes to laugh out loud at them. It was well done and hilarious. I’m proud to say that I didn’t make a mess of my wine either. Good wine and great entertainment under a canopy of twinkling stars – […]


In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams Summer is here! We are already enjoying the long, sunny, glorious days that come with this season. It has become a tradition for my daughters and I to put together a summer list – full of those activities and experiences that we are anticipating and ready to enjoy. We’re getting ready to cross the first one off the list this weekend as we celebrate the summer solstice with a pool party. There are so many fun celebrations and events in the Santa Ynez valley during this season. This weekend, Sunstone Winery is hosting their 2nd annual summer solstice celebration featuring their delicious wines and some great live performances by local musicians. One of our favorite times of the year is the all-day celebration of the 4th of July in Solvang. This all-day party begins with a parade in the morning, a carnival during the afternoon, and an incredible fireworks display to top it all off (this makes our list every year). Many of the local wineries are hosting events all summer long – BBQ’s, movie nights and live music. You can find details on some of these fun events at Firestone Winery, […]


A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in. – R. Orben It is a delight to work in a place where most everyone is on vacation. More often than not, guests arrive in high spirits (let’s be honest: if they just came from wine tasting they are in ESPECIALLY high spirits). Joking aside, when people venture to Solvang they are usually on a getaway with a loved one, stopping by on their way up or down the coast, or meeting up with friends or family. This means that we often get the best version of everyone. When on vacation, people are generally more relaxed and open to enjoying the moment. They laugh more easily. They smile more often. They share stories more freely. Jessy and I have repeatedly commented to each other on how great it is to work with people who are on vacation. Some days we forget that we are the ones who are working. This next week, both Jessy and I are packing our things and saying goodbye to Solvang for a bit. We are heading in the opposite direction: Jessy is visiting friends in the bitter cold of Cincinnati and […]


I visited the Bacara resort in Santa Barbara a few nights ago. I had heard good things about this sprawling oasis by the ocean but hadn’t experienced it for myself. It was dark out so I still haven’t seen a lot of the resort, but I did at least get a sense of the grandness of the place. It was huge and fancy and I can imagine that it’s quite lovely in daylight. On this night, however, Jessy and I were just looking for a good place to grab a drink and some food before heading to UCSB. I now believe that everything at the Bacara is grand: the shrimp in my shrimp cocktail were certainly some of the largest in the sea. Or, at least the largest I’d ever seen. Or eaten. Yum. When we explained to the bartender that we were heading to a lecture at UCSB he was genuinely puzzled. “You want to listen to a lecture?” We nodded. “I can get my dad here to give you one.” Even after we did some explaining – that we’d both read an excellent memoir in the past year by the author who was speaking – he wasn’t getting […]