Bacon & Barrels 2015

I arrived at Wil Fernandez’s house around 11:30am on this darkly clouded Saturday. He meets me at the door and leads me into the kitchen to show me one of his latest ideas. Something to do with truffles (In the short time I’ve known Wil, he has shared several ideas, many of them involving truffles). That is all I am at liberty to say. We then get into the car and head out.

Today we are attending Bacon and Barrels, named by Huffington Post Travel one of the “Top Five Festivals in California”. The event is in its 3rd year in the SYV and its 1st at Buttonwood Winery and Farm.

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As we drive, we hear sirens and are passed by Fire and Emergency vehicles. Wouldn’t you know it, right outside the main entrance of Buttonwood are the vehicles, men in gear, and Karen Steinwachs (Buttonwood’s Winemaker). We pull in slowly and see some car damage and concern on Karen’s face. But no obvious injuries (We learn later it was just a fender bender).

We park and walk towards the entrance of the event. Wil is a VIP and kindly brought me along as his +1. We are greeted by Nicole Carnevale, Buttonwood’s Director of Sales, at the check in table and are provided black wristbands. Feeling special, we enter the grounds.  Nicole suggests we try the 2014 rosé  that is on tap right outside the back of the tasting room in the VIP area. It is delicious.  We see and greet photographer Tenley and Pete Fohl at a picnic table nearby.  Tenley and Pete have already made the food rounds so make suggestions. Tenley’s fave so far is the bánh mì that is being served by Sides Hardware & Shoes.

We walk to the general area to see what we can see.  It is very large and makes you feel like there will be plenty of elbow room today. A wine section, food section, beer section, and spirits. And with most events lately, there are lines. Lines to enter the event, and lines to get food or drink. The first thought is bummer.

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But if you think about it, the lines serve a purpose. They regulate the flow, for one thing, but more importantly, It gives everyone the opportunity to have a quality moment with that Winemaker, that Chef, that Craft brewer, and that Distiller. You aren’t in line to be gorged, you are in line to learn, experience, maybe even ask a question. To start a relationship with that item and its story.

We visit Bob Oswaks of Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, Stephanie Larner of Alta Maria, Taylor Hart and Claire Anderson from KCOY for Beckmen Vineyards. Ian Cutler of Cutlers Artisan Spirits is here from the Funk Zone in Santa Barbara, and Deschutes Brewing is down from, well, Deschutes, Oregon. The Hitching Post II is providing their popular sliders and right next to them is Gray Hartley (Winemaker Hitching Post). Vanessa Craig of Vanessa Loves Food was also serving up a delectable slab Bacon. Ballast Point was pouring one of my favorite IPA’s (Grapefruit Sculpin). They are out of San Diego. I also love our local Union Jack IPA from Firestone Brewing and Hoppy Poppy IPA from Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

We cruise back to the VIP section. Sides is now serving a pork patty slider that is amazing. We try some beautiful Buttonwood 2010 Grenache and it’s delicious. There is guitar music, tables, chairs, and shade.

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The day is hot and the sun continues to win the overall battle with the dark clouds for sky. We visit the water station a few times, fill our glasses with water once more and start on a hike up the hill above the festivities. Wil takes some pictures from the top. It is beautiful with great views. We meander a bit looking for “The shot” and once we get it, see that our water is gone and are thirsty. So we head down (My fitness app will tell me later in the evening that we walked over four miles, half of it uphill in the heat of the day).  Once back in the event we find a water station fill up and make an effort to visit every booth.

The event is winding down now. We found out there were 2,000 total in attendance! Lines are now little if any, but the vendors are still happily serving. The conversations I am overhearing are about the quality and what a fun all-around day it was. The sky was part of the story today as well.  A big Cheers to Holly Holliday, owner of Create Promotions, as this is her event and she brought the kind of respectful, nicely dressed, from across California, happy attendees we all want to VisitSYV.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.