Parallel to the beaches off Italy’s Tuscan coast, Bolgheri is home to two out of the three culinary personalities set to host an upcoming one-night-only affair in Santa Ynez.
Guest winemaker Massimo Piccin and guest chef Omar Barsacchi hail from the Italian village, and together they co-organized a unique menu for S.Y. Kitchen’s April 26 dinner event, alongside additional guest winemaker Roberto Giannelli—whose winery is based in Montalcino, about 80 miles southeast of Bolgheri.
Piccin, Barsacchi, and Giannelli have been friends for many years, but this occasion marks the first time they’ve collaborated on a wine-paired dinner in a professional capacity.
“We have known each other for a long time, and a sincere friendship binds us,” Piccin wrote in an email to the Sun. “I look forward to being all together in California, and I am sure we will have a lot of fun.”
Piccin—who founded his organic-certified winery, Podere Sapaio, in 1999—said he was previously familiar with the Santa Ynez Valley and other parts of Santa Barbara County, as he’s visited California in the past, but less frequently over the years since 2020.
“Pre-COVID, I would travel to California at least two times per year,” Piccin said. “I have slowly started to travel again, and I am excited to return to California.
“California has always been a very dynamic market for Sapaio wines,” the winemaker added, “and, of course, an amazing place to visit.”
A selection of wines from Piccin and Giannelli—owner of San Filippo in Montalcino—was specifically curated to pair with Barsacchi’s various courses featured at the upcoming S.Y. Kitchen dinner.
“I would say I am excited about all the courses, from antipasto to dolce. I mean, we are talking about authentic Tuscan dishes, an authentic Tuscan chef,” said Piccin, who described the wines chosen for the event as “deeply rooted in the Tuscan terroir.”
In an email to the Sun, Giannelli said that he considers each course in the multi-course dinner to be equally important.
“For me, every single course paired with a different wine has the same importance,” said Giannelli, whose wines featured at the event include the San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino.
“Every wine is different. Brunello is of course our rock star, but I love every single one,” Giannelli said.
Barsacchi’s Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning eatery, Osteria Magona in Bolgheri, is a farmhouse restaurant widely known for its beef-centric menu. Some of the acclaimed chef’s meaty dishes at the S.Y. Kitchen dinner will include pappardelle al cinghiale—pasta with wild boar sauce—and Fiorentina di manzo alla brace—a Florentine-style steak.
“Osteria Magona—Omar’s restaurant—is literally 2 miles from my winery,” Piccin said. “My wines and Omar’s dishes smell each other every day.”
During their upcoming stay in California, Piccin, Giannelli, and Barsacchi will collaborate on an additional wine-paired dinner in Los Angeles, at Toscana Brentwood—a trattoria-style Italian restaurant co-owned by Santa Ynez Valley residents and S.Y. Kitchen co-owners Mike and Kathie Gordon.
The husband-and-wife duo also own Nella Kitchen and Bar in Los Olivos, among other venues in the Toscana Restaurant Group.
Giannelli said he’s excited for both upcoming dinner events, as he has admired both S.Y. Kitchen and Toscana from afar for quite some time.
“I have known of both venues for a few years now, and I have been impressed by their level of quality, attention to detail, and great atmospheres,” said the vintner, who’s also excited for the trip as a means to visit Santa Barbara County’s wine country, which he has enjoyed exploring in the past.
“I wish that I could travel over here more frequently,” Giannelli said. “I always love to return to this beautiful region of California.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is a lifelong Central Coast resident. Send comments to [email protected].