By April Charlton
When Betty Williams purchased what is now the bucolic Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley some five decades ago, she envisioned a working farm where good practices benefiting people, animals and the earth were embodied.
Over the years, her dream was achieved — first with an equestrian facility, then an organic farm and, finally, a winery and vineyard — with 2018 marking the farm’s 50th anniversary, as well as the 35th anniversary of the planting of the land’s heritage vines.
This year also marks what would have been Williams’ centennial birthday, recognizing her vision as Buttonwood’s founder. Williams, who was well known in the valley for her involvement in land preservation and community planning, died in 2011 at 92 years old.
The public is invited to help celebrate the farm’s past and its future with a bounty of events, including the release of new wines, planned for the anniversary year that kicked off Friday, Feb. 23, with an art show and unveiling of a remodel of Buttonwood’s tasting room and its continued focus on the surrounding gardens and orchard.
“We did not expand the size (of the tasting room), but one of the cool features is that we opened up the interior more to the exterior with a cantina-style window and more access to the patio with the French doors,” Buttonwood winemaker Karen Steinwachs said about the remodeling of the space that was used for a few decades as a wine tasting bar and produce stand.
Olives, pomegranates, peonies, herbs, summer vegetables and peaches are also grown on the 106-acre property that serves as an estate vineyard and winery, Steinwachs said.
“We believe we are Santa Barbara County’s original farm-to-table winery,” she explained. “The tasting room experience is simply peaceful and relaxing. Our wines are made for the table — priced affordably, crafted to complement food and designed to get people back to a communal table where discussion can result in world peace and harmony.”
The farm’s remodeled tasting room remains in the same location on the property, where it is surrounded not only by the natural gardens and seating areas but also ringed by a peach orchard, a new “Imbibers” block of grape vines and a new hop yard, Steinwachs noted.
“We wanted the room to be a bit roomier for our guests,” she said. “By extending the tasting bar and installing the cantina window, that was accomplished. We also wanted to be able to showcase the outdoor nature of the tasting area, (have guests) be able to view our 1946 truck, and it was time for new fixtures.”
The winemaker also said the farm’s 50th anniversary presented a good opportunity to not only celebrate the past but also look to the future of Buttonwood, which includes the cultivation of some new blocks in the 39-acre vineyard that has 33,000 vines and sits on the eastern portion of the property.
In celebration of the farm’s anniversaries, Steinwachs said new wines will be released, including two new rosés that were just uncorked, and the winery’s hopped wine, “Hop On” Batch No. 3 that is now available for tasting.
In addition, “we’ll create a best-of-the-best blend called “B.W.” in homage to Betty Williams, that will be released at a summer wine dinner here on the property,” Steinwachs said, although no date has been set for the event yet.
The winemaking team is also working on a couple “fun, new wines” for the year-long anniversary celebration, she added.
To also celebrate the farm’s jubilee year, a vineyard walk and nature scavenger hunt is planned for April 22, as are a handful of seasonal dinners using Buttonwood’s farm produce and estate wines. The winemaker dinners will be staged throughout the property at various locations — the vineyard pond, orchard and winery.
A summer benefit concert is planned at the vineyard and the winery hopes to hold “FrancFest” as harvest approaches later in the year. There are also smaller events, such as star-gazing, cooking demonstrations and more that have yet to be finalized, Steinwachs said.
Buttonwood’s first art show of its jubilee anniversary year also kicked off last Friday, with the unveiling of an equine photography exhibit featuring the work of photographer and part-time tasting room associate Dan Quinajon, who began photographing horses in 2009.
“As I undertook learning how to ride dressage, I became fascinated with the movement of horses, their physique, and, of course, the variety of their individual personalities,” Quinajon said. “Through the training and care of several horses, I have learned a great deal of this species, and their impact on me has been life-changing.”
Seyburn Zorthian, Buttonwood co-owner and Williams’ daughter, believes it’s apropos that Quinajon’s equine photography is the exhibit that kicked off the winery’s anniversary year since her mother founded the property as an equestrian center.
“I think it’s so great to have Dan’s work grace the walls of our tasting room and begin this anniversary year,” Zorthian said. “My mother started Buttonwood with horses and was herself an avid photographer. As an artist myself, I think Dan’s work is beautifully composed, shows the individual character of the horses and is simply stunning.”
For more information about Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, call 805-688-3032 or visit www.buttonwoodwinery.com.
The tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1500 Alamo Pintado Road, between Solvang and Los Olivos.