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If you receive my monthly newsletter, you’re probably familiar with a column that I do called “Bart’s Picks”. I decided to bring that to my blog this month, to talk about one of my favorite places to dine, relax, and have business meetings: Center Club Orange County.

Orange County's Best Center Club

Way back in the early 90s, I was invited to meeting at Center Club and remember being overly impressed. So, I joined and became a member back in 1994. Since then, the club has gone through a major renovation; a reinvention, actually. This isn’t your father’s club that you may remember…since the reinvention of the club, you’ll find the décor to be sophisticated and elegant; think Jonathan Adler. And, the vibe is energetic and modern.

Orange County's Best Center Club 2

It’s a wonderful, Impressive, comfortable, inviting place to have meetings or to bring family and friends. Some of the features I love are the communal tables for networking, small dining tables with leather club chairs for more intimate meals, and the chic, smaller meeting rooms.

Orange County's Best Center Club 3

Over the years, I have enjoyed the club so much that I have become much more involved. I now lead the Culinary Group and sit on the Board of Governors for the club. I am also a sponsor for this year’s Charity Classic event: Hops & Vines; it’s a great fundraising event that happens annually, to benefit local charities in Orange County.

Orange County's Best Center Club 4

I am proud to help sponsor this event for multiple reasons, but the top reason is that I fully believe in and support the philanthropic efforts of Center Club, and the organizations that are the beneficiaries. This year’s beneficiaries are Augie’s Quest, Employee Partner Care Foundation, and Working Wardrobes. If you miss this year’s event, make plans to attend next year for sure; you won’t be disappointed!

Orange County's Best Center Club 5

It’s hard to quantify the benefits of a club like this one, but being a member of the Center Club has enriched my life in many ways. Above all I am thankful for the relationships and friendships I have made through the club — these are friendships that will last a lifetime both inside and outside of Center Club.

Check out Center Club Orange County here:

650 Town Center Drive, Garden Level
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 662-3414
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Houses & Coastline of Santa Barbara, CA

If you’re looking for a wonderful weekend getaway, I highly recommend Santa Barbara and the Urban Wine Trail. Whether you’re a serious wine aficionado or merely a weekend sipper, you can sip your way through Santa Barbara County without leaving the quaintness of downtown Santa Barbara.

The Urban Wine Trail is a collection of more than 25 tasting rooms from wineries located in Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria. There are two distinct neighborhoods on the Urban Wine Trail, not too far from the beach.

Most of the wines you will taste on the Urban Wine Trail are from boutique producers; varietal Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines are superb, while others like Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier Grenache Blanc, and Syrah wines are all enjoyable too.

Here are my recommendations for where to sip, eat, and stay while in Santa Barbara:

Sip

Margerum Wine Company in Santa Barbara, CA

Photo: Margerum Wine Company

Margerum Wine Company

Excellent Rhone wines and a great location in the historic El Paseo!

Riverbench

If bubbles are your thing, you’ll definitely want to make Riverbench one of your stops. Try the Blanc de Blanc and the Blanc de Noir, in addition to the Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs!

Kunin

Hop on a bike and head over to Kunin for a taste of the Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier. It’s a fun little side excursion from downtown.

Deep Sea Wine Tasting Room

Some people come for the view, some people come for the wine! Either way, don’t miss the Deep Sea Wine Tasting Room on Stearns Wharf! Grab a tasting flight or share a bottle of wine with your favorite people and watch the incredible sunset.

 

Eat

The Lark Restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA

Photo via The Lark Instagram page

The Lark

One of the most talked about restaurants since it opened, The Lark serves up artisanal, seasonal creations served family-style and meant for sharing. It’s made Open Table’s list for the Hottest Restaurants in America for 2016. Much of the restaurant is a beautiful outdoor patio, lined with succulents and strings of lights. Definitely order the Brussel sprouts! I also recommend the House Made Gnocchi and Dungeness Crab and the Harissa and Honey Glazed Jidori Chicken (the half is enough for two people!)

Bouchon

This is wine country cuisine; Californian French cuisine made with organic farm-fresh ingredients & paired with local wines. Since their menu is seasonal, it changes depending on what foods are in season, but you’re always guaranteed an amazing meal here. Right now, try the Pan Seared Foie Gras, Maple Glazed Duck Breast, and Grilled Snake River Wagyu Center-Cut Ribeye.

Finch & Fork

A chic restaurant (think Restoration Hardware magazine) that offers comfort food with a twist. It’s located in the Kimpton Canary Hotel, but is definitely not your average hotel restaurant! Try the Carmelized Cauliflower, Rainbow Trout or the Sea Scallops.

 

Stay

Simpson House Inn in Santa Barbara, CA

Photo: Simpson House Inn

Kimpton Canary Hotel

A gorgeous hotel with an authentic Santa Barbara feel. It’s right in the middle of town and has a great on-site restaurant, The Finch and Fork. The rooftop area offers amazing sea and mountain views and has a pool, fire pits, and a lounging area and is superb for relaxing at the end of your wine tasting day!

Simpson House Inn

If you like more of a B&B feel, the Simpson House Inn is private and secluded while still walking distance from the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. The breakfasts are delicious and the whole experience here is just a really great one.

Spanish Garden Inn

The Spanish Garden Inn is also small and quiet, a peaceful oasis right in town and only about 3 blocks from State Street. Most of the rooms are gorgeous, open and airy, and there is a small pool on property as well.

 

Enjoy your weekend in Santa Barbara! Let me know what your favorites were – I’d love to hear about your trip!

Orange County has never been a stranger to high-end fashion and beauty, and last week I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of day two of OC Fashion Week. With a panoramic ocean and sunset backdrop and poolside catwalk, day two was held at The Coliseum at The Resort at Pelican Hill.

Bart Zandbergen with Family at OC Fashion Week 2016

With my wife, Tina, and baby, Tehani

Emerging OC fashion designers featured incredible collections of luxurious resort wear and accessories at this runway show, including Dave Welch of b.spoke who I had the privilege of modeling for.

 

OC Fashion Week on the Runway - Bart ZandbergenBart on the Runway at OC Fashion Week 2016

Rockin’ the runway

Dave is my designer and good friend, and he’s been designing clothes for me for 20 years. Whether for million dollar client meetings, a social event, wedding or “casual” meetings, he knows my style and always makes me look GREAT!  You could say I’m a bit addicted to b.spoke!

Welch Family at Fashion Week in OC

Dave and Kim Welch, b.spoke, with daughters Taylor and Maci

I was asked what the best part of my evening was, and I couldn’t single out only one thing. Hanging out with “the guys” getting ready for the event.  Wearing an AMAZING suit.  Watching what goes on “behind the scenes”.  Seeing my family and friends in the audience. Joking with the makeup artist. It was truly a night to remember!

Zandbergen Brothers Tim and Bart in Orange County

With my brother, Tim

Bart Zandbergen's Son & Granddaughter in Orange County

With my son, Christian and granddaughter, Lily

Bart Zandbergen, CFP - Family at OC Fashion Week

Hanging out with my wife, Tina and baby, Tehani

OC Fashion Week Group Shot - Bart Zandbergen, CFP

A group shot: My brother Tim, son Christian, Patti Larson of SunUp Group, granddaughter Lily, wife Tina, and baby Tehani

A portion of the evening’s ticket sales benefitted the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and Orangewood Foundation, both charities that benefit children. Being a father of three healthy children (one only 6 months old), I m blessed, and anything I can do to support children really resonates with me. I am so thankful to have been a part of OC Fashion Week!

Laguna Beach is home to some of the best and brightest. Our beautiful community attracts fascinating people who tend to stay once they visit. Notable native and newcomers alike flock here in 2016, just as they have in the past. This February, we’ve listed just a few of the many well-known residents to have graced our beaches.

  • Charlie Chaplin
  • John Steinbeck
  • Buzz Aldrin

Coastline in Laguna Beach, CA
The Movie Star

Several early Hollywood film stars hailed from Laguna Beach, but Charlie Chaplin’s mustached face is familiar even to younger cinephiles in 2016. Like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and other area actors of his time, Chaplin began his career in the silent film era. Famous for his physical comedy, the English actor enjoyed a 75-year career and a very colorful life. Luxurious hotels and restaurants sprang up as Charlie Chaplin and other celebrities began maintaining homes here.

 

The Author

Although best known for his stories about migrant farm workers, author John Steinbeck was born in Salinas to a county treasurer and a former teacher. The writer lived in a cottage at 504 Park in the early 1930s while writing Tortilla Flatsand formulating ideas for Pastures of Heaven.
Buzz Aldrin Astronaut Moon Landing US Stamp

The Astronaut

We have one out-of-this-world Laguna Beach resident on our February list. New Jersey-born Buzz Aldrin piloted the first manned moon landing in 1969. As the second man to walk on the moon, it should come as no surprise that the astronaut still has an affinity for the extraterrestrial. Aldrin was president and founder of the now-inactive Starcraft Enterprises in Laguna Beach.

 

With so many accomplished present and former residents, Laguna Beach is clearly a magnet for the cream of the crop. We had a hard time choosing names to include on our February list; we could write reams about the subject. For now, we’ll just revel in the glamour and sheer genius that still permeate the atmosphere in 2016.

 

In 2016, Laguna Beach wine lovers have abundant access to great wines. From chic wine bars to family vineyards, you’ll find a wide variety of wines in Orange County. But do you know the origins of our local wine culture? Learn a little bit of local wine history this January with these interesting facts.

  • The Cattle Boom
  • The Early Days of OC Winemaking
  • The End of the Golden Era
  • Orange County Wines Today

Wine Grapes in Orange County, CA | Bart Zandbergen, CFPBW (Before Wine)

The economy in mid-nineteenth-century California was cattle-based. The new state thrived as miners in need of hearty sustenance flooded the area. A number of factors eroded ranchers’ success in the industry, though, and many began selling their land.

The Good Old Days

German immigrants settled Anaheim, the premier American town in what is now Orange County. Settlers in Anaheim and the new communities of Westminster, Orange, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Tustin began growing grains and corn, as well as grapes for raisins and wine. The development of irrigation systems dramatically improved efficiency, and vineyards prospered. Unfortunately, a blight devastated grape crops during the period of 1886-87, putting a temporary but extended end to the industry locally.

The End of an Era

It’s hard to imagine in 2016, but few small wineries survived the phylloxera epidemic that hit vineyards here and in Europe. Some winemakers rebounded thanks to the grafting of disease-resistant rootstock, but the onset of Prohibition put the survivors out of business as well.

Vineyards of Wine Grapes in California | Bart Zandbergen, CFP

The Return of Orange County Wines

Fast-forward several decades. Now, as part of California’s South Coast wine region, Orange County boasts a large number of wine-making facilities. From urban wineries to sprawling vineyards, Laguna Beach oenophiles have their pick of great wines from regional makers.

Whether you’re interested in expanding your horizons, getting away for a weekend of great food and wine, or simply sharing a bottle or two with friends or someone special, you’ll find no shortage of options in Laguna Beach and the surrounding area. This January, celebrate Orange County’s past and present by enjoying some of the best wines available in 2016.

 

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Bart A Zandbergen, CFP® is a Registered Investment Advisor with Optivest, Inc and a Registered Representative with Gramercy Securities, Inc. Investment advisory services are offered by Optivest, Inc. under SEC Registration and securities are offered through Gramercy Securities, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC, 3949 Old Post Road, Charlestown, RI, 02813, 800-333-7450.

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