Happy Pride! To help you celebrate LGBTQ Pride month, I’ve got a winery for you to visit if you find yourself in the Lompoc area of Santa Barbara, California. Whether you live north or south of Santa Barbara, the California coastal drive is a dream, and June is a great time to experience all that the coast (and wine country) has to offer, especially when it comes to wine tasting. Los Angeles, Santa Barbara & Sonoma are some of the premiere places to visit when looking for wine tasting; so without taking any longer let’s dive into the story of Camins 2 Dreams!
Wife duo Tara Gomez and Mireia Taribo run Camins 2 Dreams in Lompoc, Santa Barbara, which they started in 2017. Camins or “camino” means path in Spanish, and this is the path to their dreams. Their grapes are sourced exclusively from the Sta Rita Hills, a cooler-climate area in Santa Barbara that is known for concentrated wines from Pinot Noir, but their specialty is Syrah. With under 1,000 cases made a year, each bottle is quite special & easily accessible for things like wine tasting, Los Angeles is also relatively close to their location; which makes it an easily accessible drive to try out some of their exclusive wines!
Mireia hails from Catalunya, Spain where she studied Chemistry and Enology or winemaking. She came to the US as a harvest intern, which is where she met Tara. She went back to Spain, got her Master’s degree in winemaking. In 2014 she was back in the US and the rest, as they say, is history!
“In California, the wine industry is young and male dominated, but there is also a younger generation of women winemakers that are opening their path. Here, in Santa Barbara County, we have a great percentage of women winemakers compared to other regions. It feels really good to have a support group of other women in the industry to lift each other.” – Mireia Taribo
Tara, a member of the Chumash tribe, grew up on the Central Coast and enjoyed wine from a young age. She also holds a degree in Enology. Her tribe owned Kitá Wines, which has since closed, but was a small-premium winery in the Santa Ynez Valley where she was the winemaker. Kita was the first native grown, owned, and made wine in the United States.
“As an Indigenous woman, I feel I have a strong connection to the land. I love nature, and I connect to it. I let the vines speak to me as I continue to learn more about them. Along those same lines, I also feel balance is very important. In our culture, it’s about finding the balance between ourselves and our surroundings and living in harmony. In winemaking and grape growing, it’s the same concept I am trying to achieve.” – Tara Gomez
Camins 2 Dreams is your Pride winery to visit this month! They just opened a new tasting room in the Wine Ghetto of Lompoc. A tasting of 5 wines will run you $20, and that is waived with a 3-bottle purchase, also perfect for wine tasting. Los Angeles & California have plenty of unique wineries like Camins 2 Dreams to try out. Check them out on my other blogs!
If you are interested in booking a wine tasting hosted by me featuring the wines of Camins 2 Dreams, please reach out here. An in-person wine tasting, Los Angeles (and surrounding areas) is a great way & area to bring your friends, family, or corporate groups together, especially during LGBTQ Pride month! A virtual wine tasting hosted by me with Camins 2 Dreams wine is also an option, featuring their small-format tasting set of 5 wines shipped to each of your attendees.
One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles is the broad availability of food from just about every culture you can think of. Yes, there’s classed up fancy versions of these foods, but I’m talking about street food. Food quite literally served on the street or local family-owned joints serving food that includes someone’s grandma’s recipes. The street food and pop-up scene in LA is second to none. Add to that my love of wine, and you have a unique challenge: how to pair LA’s dynamic street food with tasty, crushable wine? I recently wrote about these Los Angeles wine tasting pairings with Leo’s, my favorite taco truck. Or how about that time I sampled a slew of Chinese buns and sparkling wines for another fun Los Angeles wine tasting?
Cara Haltiwanger has been in the restaurant and bar business her entire life from growing up in Alabama to moving to Los Angeles 18 years ago. My husband, born and raised in Los Angeles, has known her for many moons, and that is how we connected. Cara has worked every job in a restaurant from front to back of house, including busser, waitress, bartender, line chef, and now chef. In 2008 one of her bartending gigs allowed her to start cooking on their patio once a week. She then started doing pop up restaurants and eventually created her baby, Calabama hot sauce. Cara’s goal has always been to create a positive southern vibe; a vibe that invites you in and reminds you of home. She’s constantly preaching community and the comfort that can be provided by a good meal and conversation. Come to one of her pop-ups, and you leave full and happy. The pandemic put a stop to her in-person pop ups, but she quickly found an alternative.
On an unassuming cul de sac in East Hollywood, you feel like you’re in NYC. An old apartment building looms tall with a column of metal fire escapes. At your scheduled time, you arrive and look up. Cara waves from the highest fire escape and asks you if you’re ready. When you say yes, she launches a red bucket suspended with a rope down to the ground level where you are. Tucked into that bucket are your breakfast sandwiches and (if you ordered them ahead of time) bottles of her addictive Calabama hot sauce, that is the perfect mix of spicy, tangy, and sweet. I could bathe in the stuff.
This is not just any breakfast sandwich. Two slices of grilled white bread are packed with bacon, eggs, cheese, onions, avocado, and cooked on a cast-iron grill. And don’t forget a side of her hot sauce, which really is the main event. The idea is that you dip the sandwich in the sauce with every bite. There is a reason why she sells out in less than 24 hours. With the pandemic challenges, the bucket drop dates/times do vary. Be sure to follow the Calabama Instagram account to stay up to date on all the bucket drops and pop ups. And when you see a bucket drop announced and tickets go on sale, do not wait. They sell out every single time.
Acquiesce Winery is one of my favorite wineries in Lodi, California. In a region known for Old Vine Zinfandel, Sue Tipton and her husband, Rodney, went against the grain and started Acquiesce, which only makes Rhône inspired white and rosé wines. People said they were crazy, but alas, they’ve been wildly successful. For your quintessential Los Angeles wine tasting experience, I’m pairing Cara’s breakfast sandwich with the perfect breakfast wine, the Acquiesce Grenache Rosé 2021.
It’s no secret that this sandwich is rich and decadent. Not to mention a bit spicy when dipped into the Calabama hot sauce. To counteract all of that, I have chosen this fresh, bright, and acid-driven rosé, to cut through the richness and spice. The perfect foil. So, grab a cooler and a couple wine tumblers, and drive over to East Hollywood for your Sunday morning bucket drop breakfast sandwich and Los Angeles wine tasting.
Cara’s slogan is Keep Comin’ Home, and for her, that means, keep going back to the place that makes you the happiest. The kitchen with her family is that place for her, but it’s different for everyone. Find yours, and keep going there. For now, I’m gonna keep comin’ home to the red bucket.