Celebrate Chardonnay in BBQ Country

When it comes to pairing Santa Maria Style Barbecue with wine, the options are numerous–especially here in the heart of California’s BBQ Capital, where the world-class wines are nearly as famous as our local culinary tradition.

Now, typically barbecue is said to go with wines of the red variety. But some rules are meant to be broken, right? Enter Chardonnay, the star of the upcoming 3rd annual Chardonnay Symposium in the Santa Maria Valley on June 29 – July 1.

Hosted by the Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Association, the Chardonnay Symposium is the only event of its kind in the United States to focus on this popular varietal. The festivities will include an educational panel session moderated by Steve Heimoff, west coast editor of the Wine Enthusiast; a gourmet food pavilion; chef-guided wine and food pairings; satellite winemaker dinners; and a grand tasting.

The symposium kicks off on Friday evening with a “Bring Your Own Chardonnay” BBQ at the historic Sierra Madre Vineyard. Guests are invited to bring their own bottle of Chardonnay to share while enjoying a gourmet barbecue, music, dancing, wine tasting and Santa Maria-style hospitality.

Then, on Saturday, a full-day event begins at Byron Vineyard and Winery, with Heimoff headlining a distinguished panel of speakers exploring “Chardonnay and Terroir: What’s it all about?” Joining Heimoff for the discussion will be eight winemakers, all of whom craft Chardonnay in California, from regions ranging from Santa Maria Valley to Napa Valley.

Directly following the panel session, the Grand Chardonnay Tasting takes place at Byron from noon to 4 p.m. More than 50 wineries from a variety of regions will share their Chardonnays. Renowned local chefs, including Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn, Alfonso Curti of Trattoria Uliveto and Ryan Gromfin of Central City Market, will reveal Chardonnay food pairing secrets under the demonstration tent.

The Santa Maria Valley is a natural home for Chardonnay’s ultimate showcase. Here, the varietal excels amid the valley temperate coastal climate, which is shaped by a rare “transverse” geography that runs west to east and encourages the influx of cool marine breezes. The result is one of California’s longest growing seasons, which ensures the development of complex, flavorful and exquisitely balanced Chardonnay.

Just another reason to visit the Santa Maria Valley, home of the red, white and Q!