Wine 101: Santa Barbara Learning Center Focuses on Lifestyle Education

Wine 101: Santa Barbara Learning Center Focuses on Lifestyle Education

Gabe Saglie's Blog

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 10/8/15

Ferran 1 Ferran Contell imports Spanish wines into the U.S.

Ferran Contell just got back from Spain.  It’s familiar territory for him: he was born in Barcelona and grew up in Valencia.  And, ever since he and his wife moved to Santa Barbara last year, his life’s work has taken him back often.

Contell is a certified sommelier and owns Darsena Selections, a Santa Barbara-based import and distribution company focused on bringing hard-to-find Spanish wines to the U.S.  Spain’s famous Rioja, and the region’s signature Tempranillo grape, are in his purview often, of course.  “The Rioja wine region has been pursuing the elaboration of high quality wines for decades,” he told me this week, between vineyard visits in Spain. “Its style of long-aged wines has become their hallmark, showing that Tempranillo is a top class varietal.  When I smell it, it takes me back to Spain.”

But through his business, and through consumer classes he’s teaching at Santa Barbara City College’s Center for Lifelong Learning, he’s shedding the spotlight on other Spanish wine growing havens.  “Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat are regions with impressive propositions already recognized by the most important wine publications in the U.S.” Contell admits.  “The pursuit of quality wines is more common than ever before” in other regions, too, though.

2Contell visited Requena, in Valencia, during his recent trip to Spain

“In my last trip, I had the opportunity to explore the Valencia region, discovering surprising projects that I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop in the following years. Some of the varietals used are Muscat or Bobal, which are traditional grapes of the area, complemented with some international varietals.”

To share his findings, Contell is teaching a course titled “Discover the Truth About Spanish Wine.” Students will meet two Friday nights – October 23 and 30 from 6:30 to 9pm – at SBCC’s Schott Campus, at 310 W. Padre St. in Santa Barbara.  The classes and materials cost $87.

Contell’s ultimate goal is to eliminate wine consumers’ intimidation.  Although “people and wine are close than ever before,” he says, “the wine world is very complex and rich, with so much to offer, that it remains overwhelming for the beginners. No matter how much you learn, there is something else to discover.”

Contell is also teaching a class called “A Few Good Noses: Wine Tasting and Selection for the Novice” over two nights, October 9 and 16.  “Aroma is really important because it constitutes 80% of the taste,” he insists.  “Aromas in wine can tell you if the wine is clean or has a defect… and it will help to find the right match (or contrast) to any dish.”

Contell’s courses are a sampling of an impressive lineup of approachable culinary classes put on by the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning (or CLL).  This program was re-launched in 2013; a shift in state funding made it necessary to retool what was once the college’s popular Continuing Education program for adults.  I took my very first wine class through that program – my first focused foray into wine enjoyment – with the late Cork Millner.

Today, the CLL offers hundreds of classes each term, across myriad specialty areas. It also produces one- and two-minute educational “Look and Learn” videos, and shares them on their website; Contell’s got one called “The Proper Way to Hold a Wine Glass.”

3Contell inspects barrels during his recent trip to Spain

The food and wine classes are especially popular, of course.  They’re affordable, and because they’re offered as one- or two-class sessions on weekdays, evening and even Saturdays, they’re accessible. “Discovering the joys of wonderful wines, and being able to pair them with yummy food, is a perfect fit for our approach, as promoting knowledge of healthy living styles is part of the CLL mission,” says executive director Andy Harper.  Some of the upcoming class titles include, “Chocolate and Cheese: A Luxurious Pairing,” “Foods that Complement Great Wines,” “Fast and Fabulous Hors d’Oeuvres” and “Craft Beer and Food Pairing – What’s Not to Like?”

All classes are also taught by locally-based experts in their field, and Harper admits that “as the reputation of our classes has increased, so has the number of applications from new teachers interested in offering classes.”

For Contell, teaching what he knows is buoyed by his own sense of discovery in his new home.  In Santa Barbara wine country, “the best is still to come,” he says.  “All that’s necessary is in place: climate, soils, vines, and knowledgeable winemakers with boundless ideas. I am looking forward to tasting and learning more from this wonderful region.”

For more information and to sign up for Contell’s or any of CLL’s classes, go to


Hospice of Santa Barbara Exhibit Seeks to Provide Sanctuary in Loss

Hospice of Santa Barbara Exhibit Seeks to Provide Sanctuary in Loss



Links to:

piccHospice of Santa Barbara welcomes local artist Susan Savage, who will display her art at the Leigh Block Gallery located within Hospice of Santa Barbara — 2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite #100, Santa Barbara — beginning November 4, 2015.


Having taught art for more than 40 years, Savage finds that one of its essential functions is to make the familiar a little strange and the familiar appear somehow unfamiliar. As a painter, Savage is attracted to common objects and the stories their visual relationships can tell.

In her exhibit “Given to the Light,” Savage notes that capturing the intriguing elements of the complex reflective surfaces of silver bowls, which she has painted for years, stimulates her sense of adventure. But her true vision is focused on portraying something more than what her eyes see.


“In my work I strive to portray the interaction between seen and unseen realities, and in doing so I seek something sacred,” said Savage. “In these works, the transformative nature of light helps to reveal things in the darkness to give physical and symbolic life to my visual narratives. In support of the work that Santa Barbara Hospice brings to those who are suffering loss, this new body of work was created specifically to provide visual comfort and personal contemplation for those in the midst of grief, hardship and struggle.”


Raised in Santa Rosa, CA, Savage earned her Master of Fine Arts at UCSB and has lived in Santa Barbara for 47 years. A retired Westmont College Professor Emeritus, Savage pursued various forms of media in her early teaching career before focusing on painting.

Her artwork has been featured in many local invitational exhibitions, and nationally at the Canton Museum of Art in Ohio, Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, Calvin College in Michigan, and the New York Center for Art and Media Studies.


On Wednesday, November 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Hospice of Santa Barbara will host a wine and hors d’oeuvres open house reception for the new exhibit.


Savage will donate 25% of the proceeds from her art sales to Hospice of Santa Barbara, Inc., a volunteer hospice organization.


Hospice of Santa Barbara “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services those who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on six local high school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call (805) 563-8820 or visit


County Promotes Responsible Energy Use During Energy Awareness Month in October

County Promotes Responsible Energy Use During Energy Awareness Month in October


Energy Awareness Month
updated: Oct 07, 2015, 4:05 PM

Departments Countywide Dedicated to Energy Awareness & Conservation

Source: emPower Santa Barbara

The Board of Supervisors will proclaim October as “Energy Awareness Month” at its Oct. 13 board meeting, highlighting the county’s commitment to promoting responsible and efficient energy use and encouraging citizens to do the same.

“The County not only is a leader in promoting the value of energy conservation but also leads by example by implementing many energy saving  strategies in our county buildings, our car fleet, and by installing a solar panels in strategic locations” said Janet Wolf, 2nd District Supervisor and Board Chair.

To celebrate energy awareness month, emPower Santa Barbara County will host an Energy & Water Expo 5-7 p.m. Oct. 20 at the County Administration Building — 105 E. Anapamu Street, 1st Floor, Santa Barbara — featuring presentations, exhibit booths and refreshments. Attendees will get tips on improving home efficiency, comfort and indoor air quality. There will also be the chance to win a Nest Learning Thermostat valued at $250. Southern California Gas Company customers can also bring their account numbers to receive a free water and energy saving kit with a free low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators.

As noted in the Proclamation, Santa Barbara County has a long tradition of environmental stewardship and is utilizing numerous programs to promote responsible and efficient energy use within county government and among residents and businesses, including the following.

  • emPower has helped over 10,000 homeowners with their home energy improvement questions and inquiries and 675 home energy projects have been initiated.
  • The General Services Department has led efforts to successfully reduce cumulative water consumption across all County owned facilities by 32 percent compared to 2013 usage.
  • The Public Works Department, Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division, administers the Green Business Program, which provides resources to businesses wanted to be green. Based on an analysis of 66 South Coast businesses that achieved certification during the first five-years of the program, 1,151,262.08 kWh/yr of electricity have been saved.
  • The South County Energy Efficiency Partnership (SCEEP), of which the County is a partner, is currently organizing a “direct install” program in Goleta, Carpinteria and Santa Barbara.  The program offers free light fixtures, low-flow shower heads and faucet aerator to small businesses, mobile home residents and multi-family buildings.
  • The Housing and Community Development (HCD) Division of the Community Services Department recently facilitated an energy efficiency HVAC/window replacement project with federal CDBG funds in Solvang with Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People.  Additionally, HCD administered federal HOME affordable housing funds to two Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara (HACSB) projects, Pescadero Lofts in Isla Vista and Santa Rita Village II in Lompoc, which installed solar energy panels to offset energy use.

For more information about Energy Awareness Month events, tips on saving energy, or to speak with a representative of emPower, call (805) 568-3566 or visit the website at

Energy & Water Expo

5-7 p.m. Oct. 20, 2015

County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu Street, 1st Floor, Santa Barbara

About emPower Central Coast

The emPower program offers voluntary incentives, financing and other services to help single-family homeowners in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties make home energy upgrades easier and more affordable. emPower was originally established by Santa Barbara County to help the community preserve the environment by helping to lower energy consumption and stimulate the economy by creating jobs through innovative, voluntary solutions to support a sustainable building performance market.

emPower is funded by California utility ratepayers and administered by Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison Company and Pacific Gas and Electric under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. emPower is also funded by the US Department of Energy Better Buildings program and the California Energy Commission with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. emPower’s low cost financing is offered in partnership with Coast Hills Federal Credit Union and Ventura County Credit Union. More information at

SB Humane Society Rescues 28 Cats and Kittens From Single Household

SB Humane Society Rescues 28 Cats and Kittens From Single Household


Heat Wave Serves as Reminder to “Beat the Heat” with Pet Spay and Neuter Services at the Santa Barbara Humane Society

Santa Barbara Humane Society Fills Need with Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic

cat ladySanta Barbara Humane Society Director of Veterinary Services, Christina Paris-Sisk, DVM, holds two of the 28 cats rescued from a single-household in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara, CA, September 29, 2015 – The need for spay and neuter education recently unfolded here in Santa Barbara. A household with several indoor cats, all unspayed females, experienced a sudden population boom when one cat got out and came back pregnant.

Kitten season, the time of year when cats give birth, has been starting earlier and lasting longer than ever before, which hampers the Santa Barbara Humane Society’s effort to combat pet overpopulation. The Santa Barbara Humane Society would like to remind the public of the importance of early spay and neuter surgery for household pets.

The Santa Barbara Humane Society, in partnership with ResQ Cats, took in 28 cats from this single household to help spay and neuter them in the Santa Barbara Humane Society’s onsite clinic. Now recovered from surgery, these cats and kittens are available for adoption at the Santa Barbara Humane Society, located at 5399 Overpass Road in Santa Barbara.

“One of the Santa Barbara Humane Society’s primary goals is the reduction of the pet overpopulation crisis in our community,” said Peggy Langle, Santa Barbara Humane Society Executive Director. “A very important aspect of our clinic is ensuring all adoption dogs and cats are spayed or neutered prior to going to their new homes.”

Cat populations can easily get out of hand. According to theASPCA, cats can become pregnant as young as four months of age, can breed three times a year and have an average of four kittens per litter. That means, during her reproductive life, one cat could have more than 100 kittens.

Cats can safely be spayed or neutered at two months of age and the Santa Barbara Humane Society’s spay and neuter clinic is low-cost and open to the public. Don’t “litter” in your neighborhood… Call (805) 964-4777 to make an appointment to fix your pets today.

About Santa Barbara Humane Society
Since 1887, the Santa Barbara Humane Society has provided service to the people and animal populations of Santa Barbara County, and is proud to be one of the three oldest agencies in California dedicated to animal welfare. The Santa Barbara Humane Society occupies a five-acre site on Overpass Road, serving the community with a shelter, animal adoption services, a spay and neuter clinic, humane education center, boarding kennels, large animal holding center and corral, and inspection and rescue services. For more information, or call (805) 964-4777. Find Santa Barbara Humane Society on Facebook and Instagram.



Flannery Hill/Juliana Minsky, (805) 687-3322

Affordable Housing Gala Honorary Co-Chairs Announced

Affordable Housing Gala Honorary Co-Chairs Announced


45th Gala Honorary Co-Chairs SmallPeoples’ Self-Help Housing 45th Anniversary Gala Honorary Committee Co-Chairs: From left, Richard Heimberg and Karen Schloss Heimberg; and Alyce and David Boyd.

Santa Barbara, Sept. 30, 2015 – Peoples’ Self-Help Housing is proud to announce the honorary co-chairs for its 45th Anniversary gala dinner and auction, the Central Coast Taste of Hope, to be held Nov. 13.

Husband and wife David and Alyce Boyd, and husband and wife Richard Heimberg and Karen Schloss Heimberg will serve as honorary co-chairs for the special event at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum in celebration of PSHH providing affordable housing on the Central Coast for 45 years. The gala and auction will benefit PSHH’s mission to provide affordable housing and programs leading to self-sufficiency for low-income families, seniors and other special needs groups on California’s Central Coast.

The full Honorary Committee includes Dennis and Jenny Allen, Rona Barrett, Ed and Sue Birch, Vince Cabalero, Allan Ghitterman and Hon. Susan Rose, Pamela Dillman Haskell, Pete and Gerd Jordano, Bobbi Kroot, George Leis, Pam Maines, Archie McLaren, Natalie Orfalea, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, Sister Kathleen Patrice, Katrina Rogers, Gerry and Bobbi Rubin, Anne and Michael Towbes, and Dick Weinberger.

PSHH is requesting charitable donations of wine, gift certificates and other merchandise for the silent auction that will be held at the 45th Anniversary event. Sponsorships and event tickets are available at; click on the “Taste of Hope” logo.

Call Rochelle Rose at 699-7227 or Monica Scholl at (805) 699-7220 or email [email protected] for more information or for donation pick up if needed. Visit for more.

45th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 – 5 – 8:30 pm
Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E. De la Guerra St.

About PSHH
Founded in 1970, PSHH is an award winning non-profit organization that develops affordable housing and community facilities for low-income households and homeownership opportunities for working families and special needs populations, such as seniors, veterans, the disabled, and the formerly homeless. With 1,200 self-help homes completed and nearly 1,600 rental units developed, PSHH is the largest affordable housing developer on the Central Coast, with offices in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. For more information on Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, visit, email[email protected] or phone (805) 781-3088.


Angel Pacheco/Chris Davis 805-687-3322

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