With so much of the conference to cover, I really had to edit my photos and stories down to a select few due to sheer capacity of wines tasted and fun had. From the various appellations in Santa Barbara county alone, to Portugal and Spain, it was delight to sample so many unique wines amongst some of the best citizen and industry wine bloggers around. The hubbs is an old hand at this event, having attended six of only the seven overall conferences, but this time I was in tow- not quite sure what to expect (since I'm not exactly labeled a wine blogger), but thrilled to be attendance nonetheless.
Begin at the beginning...
Oh the glory that is Pea Soup Anderson's . What is there to say about this magnificent place? It's an institution amongst those of us who had to endure the long journey between Northern and Southern California on a regular basis during our youth- a beacon of solace in a sea of pea green wonderment, decked out with wooden shoes and cuckoo clocks, a putting green, tiny swimming pool and giant neon soup bowl. We were able to snag a room here for a great price and with the recent renovations, it wasn't too bad at all for a few nights of wine soaked sleep. Clean, comfortable and quirky, PSA was our homebase of sorts for the length of conference. It suited us well and was just a short & sobering five minute walk from the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, where the conference was being held.
Pre-check in to the conference and post our six and half hour drive from home, we needed some sustenance and refreshment to help prep for the days to come. It is here we discovered an oasis of hops and ale, a dark and metallic cave of coolness, the fantastic Firestone Walker Taproom. A taproom that will haunt me endlessly as I sit up here in the north, unable to waltz into the modern, yeasty, air-conditioned heaven.
"The Taproom specializes in brewhouse bistro cooking with an emphasis on local flavor. The Taproom is ultimately an extension of the Firestone Walker brewing philosophy—the finest and freshest ingredients, prepared with care and presented from a distinctively regional perspective."
"The Taproom features our four award winning Firestone Walker beers in addition to eight alternating beers on tap. Patrons of the bar may enjoy 1/2 pints or imperial pints of our beers."
And so we did. We started with lunch and a few different pints of frothy goodness. We shared one of their Cobb Salads with local greens, chicken, tomato, avocado, bacon, bleu cheese, egg & ranch dressing and split a plate of the Seared Ahi Wontons with pan-seared rare sushi-grade Ahi tuna, served with Asian slaw, avocado & crispy wontons. Both dishes were exceptional, considering the that pub food has the tendency to be too heavy and greasy- the cobb salad was seasoned well, presented nicely and tasted fresh and crisp. The seared ahi was delicious and delicate, pairing very well with my tall glass of Firestone Walker 805 Beer.
"A beer crafted for the coast. 805 is a light, approachable brew. Born from an all malt recipe and finished with a touch of hops, it's slightly sweet with a clean finish. 805 is the perfect followup to that ultimate surf session or to reward a hard day's work."
This beer is addictive. Like summer in a can. I've already researched where it can be found up here in Northern California and was thrilled to learn that we'll be able to get our hands on it within a few miles from home. Hooray! Thank goodness for that. We can stock up and bring to all of our favorite summertime bbq's and pool parties- such a great match for grilling and chilling this season.
With over 40 beers under the Firestone Walker label, it's hard to choose just one. For you brew junkies out there, check out www.firestonebeer.com for more info on the brewery, the taproom, the barrelworks and where you can find your own 805. Trust me, you'll be happy you did.
Stay tuned, there's much more to come regarding the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference...