Gleason Family launches new food menu at Solvang winery and vineyard
The Gleason Family Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley portfolio of brands (Roblar Winery and Vineyards, Refugio Ranch Vineyards, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard) has launched food service at the hospitality group’s Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, a 106-acre property in Solvang.
Buttonwood’s new food menu was created by Gleason Family Vineyards executive chef Peter Cham in tandem with Buttonwood’s new, proprietary sous chef, Lee Gottheimer.
The new Buttonwood Farm Bites Menu, which debuted Jan. 14, is being offered Friday through Sunday of each week. The opening version of the menu, which will expand in the coming months as the fields and orchards begin to produce spring fruits and vegetables, will lend itself to Buttonwood’s family-friendly, American farmland atmosphere.
Featured will be shareable starters like sweet and spicy roasted peanuts with chili powder and smoked sea salt, and jalapeño corn bread with whipped honey butter, which joins other regional U.S. favorites such as ‘Fancy’ Pimento Cheese Spread with Dungeness crab, served with Saltine crackers and pickled Fresno chili.
A salad straight from Buttonwood Farm includes lettuces and shaved veggies in season, sunflower seeds and buttermilk ranch dressing, as a nod to the ranch dressing’s Santa Barbara roots.
Heartier bites consist of rotating grilled cheese sandwich renditions, like a bacon version with aged cheddar, pickled jalapeño, and peach jam made from Buttonwood Farm’s most famous crop; the “Chamburger” (grass-fed beef burger, caramelized onions, house pickles, American cheese); and a barbecued half-chicken with apricot barbecue sauce and Buttonwood Farm-sourced cabbage slaw.
Originally from Connecticut, Chef Gottheimer graduated from the culinary program at the Art Institute of Las Vegas and went on to work in the kitchens of some of the city’s premier resorts and restaurants such as the Bellagio Resort & Casino, Wynn Las Vegas, Vdara Hotel & Spa, and for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand Las Vegas, and then as executive sous chef of the group’s Italian bistro, Cucina, in The Shops at Crystals at CityCenter.
Chef Gottheimer relocated to Santa Barbara County in 2018, taking up work with members of the Fess Parker Family as chef at Third Window Brewing, then as executive sous chef at The Bear and Star, formerly at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos.
In 2020, Chef Gottheimer moved to Solvang’s Alisal Ranch. As chef de cuisine of the 10,500-acre resort, he worked with guest star chefs from around the country and in particular, some of the most talented barbecue masters in the nation, from whom he learned a variety of classic barbecue techniques, which he has incorporated into Buttonwood’s new winery food program.
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, which Gleason Family Vineyards acquired in December 2021, currently consists of a 42-acre estate vineyard, on-site winery facility, tasting room and gardens, a two-acre orchard, small hop yard and 11 acres of rotated seasonal produce.
The property, founded in 1968 on a principle of sustainability, was first utilized as an equestrian operation, followed by the planting of organic fruits and vegetables, and in 1983, the initial planting of the vineyard.
Today, Buttonwood’s farming efforts are overseen by Clay Garland, Gleason Family Vineyards’ new director of farming and sustainability, who handles all farming and sustainability initiatives for the group’s entire portfolio of properties.
Under Mr. Garland and his team, Buttonwood’s farm area has grown to include 11 fruitful acres planted with a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, prompting the team to open a dedicated market for the bounty coming from the group’s two organic farms, Buttonwood Farm and Roblar Farm, the latter located in Santa Ynez.
The new Buttonwood Marketplace is slated to open Feb. 25, bringing with it a year-round offering of fresh produce and Buttonwood food items such as jams, pies and seasonal sorbets plus farm-inspired merchandise and other wares from local crafters.
The culinary platforms at Buttonwood and Roblar play heavily into the farm planning, with Chef Cham and Mr. Garland working hand-in-hand to plant what might be on a seasonal “chef wish list.” Just steps from both the Buttonwood and the Roblar kitchens, Chefs Cham and Gottheimer pick fresh produce destined for the properties’ food menus and dishes. Beehives also dot both Roblar Farm and Buttonwood Farm. The powerful pollinators serve as an integral part of the Gleason Family Vineyards farming system and supply honey’s natural sweetness to the group’s varied menus.
Like Chef Cham, Chef Gottheimer participates in Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry to raise money for the organization aimed at ending child hunger. Chef Gottheimer also works with local nonprofits with missions of alleviating hunger, including Santa Barbara County’s Veggie Rescue and Santa Ynez Valley Community Outreach.