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When Emilio Estevez (Young Guns, The Breakfast Club) planted a measly half-acre of Pinot Noir vines on his Malibu property, it was little more than cool-looking landscaping, something to mitigate an onerous water bill. Then he met Sonja Magdevski, whom he would later marry, and the two began to collaborate on making a little wine, just for fun.
“On our first date I dug the holes and she planted the vines,” Estevez tells The Hollywood Reporter. Estevez and Magdevski now own and operate Casa Dumetz winery; she makes the wines, he farms the vineyard and helps out inside. “There was never any grandiose plan to start a winery,” adds Magdevski during THR‘s visit to the couples’ Los Alamos tasting room, an hour north of Santa Barbara. But even undefined plans have a way of morphing into full-fledged career paths.
During the first harvest, Estevez was nowhere near Malibu; he was in Spain filming The Way. “I was in the middle of production on a hilltop in Logrono, and I told Sonja, ‘You need to make the harvest call.’ ” She did and hasn’t second-guessed her wines since.
It’s easy to dismiss Casa Dumetz as just another vanity project, except that the couple is making very good juice, including Viognier and Grenache Gris, and are getting noticed by celebrated food and wine publications, including Wine Enthusiast and Bon Appetit.
Casa Dumetz will be part of the inaugural Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend, running from June 6-8, at the Bacara Resort and Spa, with proceeds from the event benefitting the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Though the late Julia Child never had the chance to try Casa Dumetz wines — she passed away by the time Estevez planted his vineyard — at least, they’ll be part of the same event celebrating fine cuisine.
There are 15 separate events, including an obligatory winemaker dinner; a Santa Maria BBQ lunch with grilling tips from the Hitching Post of Sideways fame; an artisan bread-making demo; a seminar with the only female sea urchin diver in Santa Barbara; and the best ways to prepare urchin. It’s an eclectic mix of wine, food and Santa Barbara experts, showcasing the culinary changes happening in the county.
“Santa Barbara has hung on to its granola roots for a little too long,” says Bacara general manager Kathleen Cochran. “Julia’s passion was the science and art of food, fun, entertaining, and learning. This weekend reminds us of her mission,” she adds. Casa Dumetz will be pouring their wine at the Sunday Neighborhood Tasting event.
“The Bacara is a great location, and Emilio and I are happy to support Julia’s Foundation,” Magdevski says. “She was a groundbreaker, a woman who worked hard, followed her path and didn’t give up — that’s an inspiration.”
Prices range from $499 for an All-Access Weekend Pass to as little as $14 per single event. Find more info here.