People who follow my column will remember I covered Carhartt Family Wines earlier this year (Apr. 18, 2021). I must say, I loved their beautiful patio with its modern rustic decor.

They have always had musicians perform occasionally and now they have planned concerts on the patio twice a month. In fact, the next concert is Aug. 13. At the time I received their press release, they didn’t have all the names of the bands or the food trucks, but if you follow their web page at, you can keep on eye on their tasting room schedule for news of upcoming performances.

But you don’t need to go just on a Friday, the tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. They offer a very good lineup of 26 terrific wines, and cheese plates their fans rave about. Upcoming dates for the patio concerts are Aug. 13 and 27, Sept. 10 and 24. The Friday concerts last three hours, from 5 until 8 p.m.

You can also visit their webpage to make a reservation in advance, as this popular tasting room is certain to fill up fast. They are following state and county health requirements so please respect their rules: You must buy your tasting flight or wines by the glass or bottle; they ask that you be punctual as your time limit for a reservation is one hour and 15 minutes; and masks are required at all times when you are not seated at your table.

Reservations are available for one person up to a party of eight people. To show they do feel honored that you chose them to visit they noted, “We appreciate your support and patience during these turbulent times.”

There’s another great winemaker dinner coming up soon that I can highly recommend. I’ve enjoyed many visits to Refugio Ranch tasting room in Los Olivos, but have not yet visited the winery and vineyard in Santa Ynez.

This winemaker’s dinner is your opportunity to visit the gorgeous estate. It takes place on Saturday, July 31 and provides a generous tasting of Refugio Ranch wines, including library wines, wines not yet released, and large format, magnum bottles (that don’t age like 750 ml bottles).

The dinner will take place in two estate sites, with appetizers and wines beside the “upper pond” with amazing panoramic views of the Santa Ynez Valley. Three appetizers are prosciutto with melon, ricotta crostini, and roasted Morro Bay oysters, paired with Refugio Ranch 2020 Malvasia Blanca and 2020 Pet Nat natural sparkling wine. Dinner will follow in the Refugio barn with a three course dinner paired with unusual varieties.

The entire meal will be prepared by chef Jake Francis from Valley Piggery. This is nothing close to the pork you buy at your local grocer. Francis raises his pigs with a holistic approach, which he explains on his webpage:

“The rosiest, best tasting pork comes from well-loved pigs that spend their life as pigs ought to, foraging, wallowing, and grunting. Our pigs live the porcine dream. I invite you to reconnect to the reality of being an omnivore and share in our respect for our pigs. We honor them in the field, in the kitchen, and on your plate.”

I had the finest pork I ever tasted during a winemaker dinner at Deovlet Wine in San Luis Obispo prepared by chef Jake Francis. Now I formerly cooked in some great San Francisco restaurants, yet never tasted pork as impressive as those from Valley Piggery. It was mind-blowing. Because he raises the pigs, he can’t handle harvesting them and has it done at Cal Poly in SLO.

The Refugio Ranch winemaker dinner will cost club members $130 each (limited to two people), and $150 per person for non-members.

The gourmet menu is quite enticing: Basque stew of fennel sausage, Manilla clams, fingerling potatoes and tomato broth with the 2019 Escondrijo (pre-release); braised short rib with shishito peppers, tomatoes, leek soubise, and caper chimichurri with 2012 Time for Time library wine; and a sweet finish of cigar-infused vanilla ice cream, Marconi almond brittle, and luxardo cherries, paired with the 2012 Ineseno library wine.

It’s a bit more expensive than some winemaker dinners, but it’s sure to be unforgettable. To learn more about Valley Piggery, visit Valleypiggery .com.

This being the winemaker’s dinner night, wine tasting will be led by winemaker Max Marshak who will discuss each wine and provide insight into what they describe as, “the magic of our vineyard and cellar practices.” Learn more and get your reservations at refugioranch .com.


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