Inspiration at Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival


I’ve been a fermenting fanatic since my first batch of kombucha back in 2005. So it’s no surprise how excited I was to attend the 4th Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival at Fairview Gardens in Goleta this past weekend. It was a great opportunity to see what’s new in the world of microbial food through tastings, live demos, and presentations. Just like any festival, you need to plan ahead to get your money’s worth. Everyone who grabbed a seat at each of the hands-on demos walked away with their own jars of fermented goodies (pickles, tomatoes, etc.)

Much to my delight, my boyfriend and I immediately stumbled upon Farmhouse Culture’s kraut juice.

 Could you really ask for more than a giant vat of fermented elixir in glass jar with a spigot?

The Smoked Jalapeno Kraut was by far our favorite, but the Kimchi and Dill Pickle were worthy contenders.

It was no surprise to find GT’s Kombucha on tap as well. They will always hold a special place in my heart for really getting the fermenting bug hopping in me on that fateful day at the Natural Foods Co-op in San Luis Obispo about nine years ago. I was immediately hooked! When I found out that I could make my own, I gladly accepted the challenge.

Inspiration flowed as we wandered from one booth to the next

There were so many different types and flavors of kombucha – made by people who love what they do. Hannah Crum is one of those people, who I met at the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference a few years ago. Her business – Kombucha Kamp – is one of the leading educational websites that helps promote kombucha-making to the world. Her booth was a favorite for kids who got to check out cultures under a microscope. Super cool!

Soda was a rare treat growing up, and root beer was always my first choice. So tasting a truly healthful homemade root beer made from just a few simple ingredients was a treat. I’ve made root beer kombucha before, but this was the real deal – not too sharp and not too sweet, just plain old yumm-o.

LW_SunPotionJarsSince there’s only so much kombucha one person can drink in a day we moved on and found one of the best misos I’ve ever tasted at Sun Potion. They also invited us to taste their Prash, a delicious ayurvedic “tonic ambrosia” made with organic grass-fed ghee, raw honey, and a blend of seven herbs. It was so amazing I walked away with two jars and have been savoring it daily ever since. Just a few booths away, Melissa at Raw Paleo was sampling a magical raw coconut butter cream pie that I’m still dreaming about.

In a serendipitous moment, we stopped at a beautifully crafted cart with handmade jewelry made from old world burls. While talking with Roman, the talent behind Burly Brother Woodworking, we realized we recognized each other from The Central Coast Oyster Festival. What luck! I walked away with my new favorite pair of earrings and a unique handmade birthday gift for my daughter.

Next, a fascinating little history lesson on how we came to love our alcohol ferments

PEPE_PinotNoir_smUnder a canopy of avocado trees, we were blown away by Wes Hagen’s ten-minute lecture on the history of beer and wine. Did you know all modern grapes can be traced back to one hermaphroditic European vine? As the vineyard manager and winemaker at Clos Pepe Vineyard and Estate Wines, Wes is an incredible source for everything you wanted to know about traditional wine and beer making. Time to take a trip to the winery to learn more!

The day ended with “‘Farm to Bar Happy Hour” which included Firestone Walker’s Inoculate, Jun brewed with honey and jasmine, tasty cocktails, Telegraph brews, and a small batch of mead. I left with a renewed passion for ferments and a few other things (like raw coconut butter cream pie).

Laureen Wallravin offers nutritional therapeutic advice and guidance on incorporating healthier ingredients into a family’s diet for increased vitality. Review the dates and information below for her Fermented Drink Series.

Fermented Drink Series

Part 1: Water Kefir – August 14 @ 6pm
Part 2: Kombucha – September 18 @ 6pm
Part 3: Beet Kvass – October 16 @ 6pm

Location: Shell Beach Salon and Spa, 1739 Shell Beach Rd., Shell Beach
Cost: $15 per class ($30 for all three)
Limited seating so please call or email to reserve your seat asap.

[This article originally appeared on Laureen Wallravin’s blog at]

Pinot Noir photo: Jeremy Ball of Bottle Branding

You may also like...