Kathy Marcks Hardesty: It's time to Roll Out the Barrels and celebrate 24th annual event

Kathy Marcks Hardesty: It's time to Roll Out the Barrels and celebrate 24th annual event


What does it take to lure you outside your comfort zone in Santa Barbara County wine country?

It might be a terrific wine festival like the upcoming Roll Out the Barrels in south San Luis Obispo County. This year, it happens June 21 to 23, and there are many good reasons it’s in its 24th year. This wine festival is educational, opens the opportunity to discover excellent new brands and you’ll enjoy delightful wines deliciously paired with gourmet foods. And there’s live music, making it far better than any virtual barrel full of fun.

I’ve always had loads of fun during the popular Thursday night Barrels in the Plaza event and the weekend Passport to SLO Wine Country. The beauty of this busy three-day event is that the attractions can be purchased separately and prices are reasonable. With so much to offer in wine, foods, and entertainment packed into each event, you won’t walk away feeling slighted.

The Barrels in the Plaza alfresco event takes place Thursday in front of the historic San Luis Obispo Mission de Tolosa from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Beside every wine tasting table you visit, there’s a restaurant or food specialist offering delicious foods well-paired with the winery’s fine wines. If you count the combinations of pairings, you have 50 options. I advise you to limit yourself to brands offering your favorite kinds of wine and food pairings. After all, you can’t eat all of it! Another bonus is the local talent of the Cimo Brothers Band, performing an eclectic mix of Latin, jazz, folk and rock. The price is only $60 per person, and if you are interested in this event alone, get your tickets early as it always sells out.

You won’t find all of the wineries under one gigantic tent, during the wine country tour Friday and Saturday. Instead, you visit each winery you’ve chosen for the attractions you prefer. Each winery offers amazing wines, foods and live music with extra lures like special discounts usually only allotted to the winery’s special wine club members (not offered at all wineries). The tour requires the purchase of a passport for $75, and only $20 for designated drivers (who will enjoy food, nonalcoholic drinks and entertainment). The passport only allows you to visit four wineries Friday and another four wine tasting rooms Saturday. But that’s a full day for most wine lovers.

According to Heather Muran, executive director of SLO Wine Country, you don’t want to miss this year’s events: “Our participating wineries have really stepped up to make this an amazing experience. Offerings include barrel samples, vineyard tours, farm-to-table bites, sensory explorations, gondola rides, live music and special discounts.”

Check out the full schedule of wine tastings and activities at www.slowine.com/events/passport-to-slo-wine-country.php.

Several last-minute attractions were added to the Passport to SLO in various wine region AVAs. In Avila Beach, where there are three participating wine tasting rooms, Sinor-LaVallee will feature a Pate and Pinot Noir tasting. On Orcutt Road, Chamisal Vineyard is offering a Chardonnay Spectrum Barrel Tasting. It’s an educational seminar to teach guests about the unique and different ways to produce and age this classic wine variety. Animal lovers will not want to miss the care of wolves demonstration at Wolff Vineyards on Orcutt Road by WHAR wolves rescue organization from Paso Robles.

Whatever your pleasure in wine, food, music and animals, you’re sure to find something great at Roll Out the Barrels.


Kathy Marcks Hardesty can be reached at kathy@centralcoastcritic.com.


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