More than a dozen local winemakers and an East Coast-based chef are among the special guests set to dish up their fare during an upcoming three-day festival in Los Alamos.
The inaugural Los Alamos Flea—with a variety of events occurring between May 5 and 7 at three venues in town—will kick off with an appetizer and wine tasting event at The Maker’s Son on Friday, May 5, from 5 to 8 p.m.
During this opening night of the festival, New Yorker and prolific chef John McCarthy will be using food products from four sustainable farms located along the Central Coast—Los Alamos’ Las Cumbres Ranch, the Santa Ynez Valley’s Anavo Farm, Arroyo Grande’s Talley Farms, and Goleta’s Gaia Farm—to create a selection of appetizers for the event’s guests to choose from.
Los Alamos resident Katie Smith-Adair—a career event producer and founder of Los Alamos Flea—met McCarthy while she and her husband were living in Brooklyn, where they originated their event production company for wineries, wine clubs, and other clients in 2014.
“We first met John while doing a series of dinners in upstate New York,” said Smith-Adair, who was able to enlist McCarthy to travel across the country to take part in the first Los Alamos Flea.
The purpose of the event—which Smith-Adair envisions becoming an annual festival—aligns with the Los Alamos local and her husband’s nonprofit organization, the IRL Arts Foundation: to raise awareness for sustainable food use and agriculture practices.
“Convenience is something that’s programmed into all of us, and we have had so much increase in conveniences over the past few years that it does take a little bit of practice to say, ‘Can I find something slightly less convenient but significantly more sustainable to replace this purchase or action?’” said Smith-Adair, who described herself as “the sort of nagging person in the group text to tell people they don’t really need to buy a new dress, they can find something in their closet instead.”
Funds raised by ticket sales and vendor fees at the Los Alamos Flea will be used to support the IRL Arts Foundation’s ongoing scholarship opportunities for students in local schools that offer education in sustainable food systems, including Allan Hancock College and Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria.
The day after the festival’s opening night appetizer soiree at The Maker’s Son—with McCarthy’s appetizers paired with wines from Camins 2 Dreams, Fiddlehead Cellars, Final Girl Wines, and several other local vintners—the Los Alamos Flea will continue with a vendor market on Saturday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“All of our vendors either repurpose goods, upcycle secondhand, or offer handmade sustainably produced items,” said Smith-Adair, who added that the vendor market—held at the Los Alamos Antiques Depot and Bar—will feature hundreds of items from more than 25 local sellers.
The third and final night of the festival will take place at the Los Alamos Men’s Club, where the documentary Living Wine will be screened, followed by a special panel and Q-and-A with four local winemakers who will discuss their own approaches to mitigating climate change through their winemaking practices, similar to the approaches explored in the documentary.
“The documentary follows some winemakers in Northern California during the terrible wildfire season a couple years ago, and it really has an environmental message around how people growing food and leveraging the land have a responsibility to manage the land in a way that actually helps mitigate climate change,” Smith-Adair said.
“So [the winemakers are] both kind of responding to the impacts of climate change and also taking actions to reduce it.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood asks, ‘Wine not?’ Send comments to [email protected].