Kathy Marcks Hardesty: So much in love on Valentine's Day weekend
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Kathy Marcks Hardesty: So much in love on Valentine's Day weekend

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This week, love is in the air and I am a huge devotee of being in love. So I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their beloved partner.

That said, not everyone can afford the white tablecloth dining experience, which can easily equal the monthly payment for a luxury car.

So I began looking into some of our great Central Coast winery tasting rooms, and discovered some very romantic Valentine’s Day choices that won’t cause you to crack open the piggy bank. It’s a great way to romance your beloved, while imbibing in your favorite adult beverage (it certainly is mine).

With Valentine’s Day taking place on a Thursday, few events start Feb. 14, rather most on Friday the day after, giving local wineries the opportunity to call it Valentine’s Day weekend. Not everyone can go out for a romantic date on a Thursday, which makes this a great idea.

The first wine tasting room event that I could find starting on Feb. 14 was at Stephen Ross in San Luis Obispo, which will offer the excellent Fromagerie Sophie cheese and charcuterie plates, created specifically to pair with their flight of wines chosen for the month. If you know the date you’ll be there, from Feb. 14-17, it’s wise to pre-order your cheese plate. Then, the cost is only $14 as opposed to ordering spur of the moment when the same plate will cost $18. The price doesn’t include the wine tasting, but you can choose what you want in wine, from a sampling, a glass of a specific variety, or a bottle. They wanted to make it flexible for ordering the number of plates and wines that you prefer. Visit www.stephenrosswine.com for location, hours and more details.

On Friday, Feb. 15, Presqu’ile (press-keel) in the Santa Maria Valley will offer a concert by a popular local artist Jineanne Coderre. She will woo you and your partner with soulful love songs from 4:30 until 7 p.m. The tasting offerings, however, will go on Saturday and Sunday, too. The wines are not served as tasting flights after 4 p.m., so you must buy your wine by the glass or bottle. The other options you can purchase include a special wine and oyster pairing or the Valentine’s weekend package of a cheese plate for two, Dandelion chocolate bar and a bottle of Presqui’le pinot noir for just $60. Not a bad deal for a romantic Friday or Saturday evening. Although the tasting room hopes you’ll call to reserve your space, it is not required to join the party. Get more details at www.presquilewine.com.

For those on a really tight budget but still want a way to show your loved one you cherish them, head to Buellton. One of the newest tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County is Brick Barn wine estate, and it's celebrating Presidents Day weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17. On both days, they will offer free admission for live music. You’ll only have to purchase your tastings or wines by the glass and bottle purchases. You can also get an array of food choices to purchase from the food trucks. This all takes place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. both days. On Saturday, they’ll feature Big Truck Foods and the Keith Cox Band; on Sunday, it'll be Mamma Italy Food Truck and Jacob Cole performing. Learn more about Brick Barn at www.brickbarnwineestate.com.

If you’re like me and you like to start or finish a romantic evening date with bubbly, I strongly suggest you visit these tasting rooms for an array of excellent sparkling wines to choose from. They are great because you can usually taste most of their sparkling wines while you visit them, and find the one that suits your palate. In no particular order, I recommend Flying Goat Cellars in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, Laetitia in Arroyo Grande (alongside Highway 101) and Riverbench in the Santa Maria Valley.

While I was surprised to find that none of these sparkling specialists were doing a Valentine’s Day event, they have many other events happening during February. They are great choices if your loved one is making your romantic dinner at home. You might be surprised at just how versatile sparkling wine is with food, no matter what your choice of main course, from wild salmon to beef Wellington.

Cheers!

Kathy Marcks Hardesty can be reached at kathymhardesty@gmail.com.

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