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Finding WINE

PHOTOGRAPHS: LILAC PATISSERIE, VANESSA WEBER

TOMA RESTAURANT & BAR

owner Tom Dolan loves taking walking vacations throughout Europe. “There’s an incredible network of trails that connect beautiful villages,” he says. But his long-distance treks—exploratory weeklong travels on foot during which he covers 20 miles a day—have taken special meaning ever since he opened Toma in 2013. Last year, Dolan walked 120 miles across Barolo, in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. He started in truffle-laden Alba and visited tiny historic towns such as Castiglione Falletto and Monforte d’Alba before giving his soles a rest in Dogliani. “We were walking through forests and vineyards most of the day—and you meet people you just wouldn’t if you were driving,” says Dolan. “It’s extremely hospitable. The only danger you encounter is overeating and overdrinking.” That’s what the nights are about— slow, multicourse meals and mingling with locals. But the days, aside from taking in the sweeping vistas, are about discovering wine. Dolan meets with artisanal winemakers—some by appointment, some by chance—and sips through their wares with the goal of finding special bottles to bring home. After last year’s Barolo trip, Dolan added nine boutique wineries to his wine list. Names such as Damilano, Vietti, Sandrone, Rinaldi, and Pio Cesare. “They’re rare labels or special blends that you might not see anywhere else,” he says. For Toma, Italy is the obvious focus for the carefully edited wine list. Umbria and Chianti have been covered, and Veneto is a possibility for 2016. Says Dolan: “I’m excited to discover the topography and vineyards of northeastern Italy—the white wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the red blends of Veneto.” 324

W. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, 805-962-0777. G A B E S A G L I E TOMA R ESTAU R ANT. C O M

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