The Central Coast Wine Classic will hold its 27th annual four-day extravaganza of gastronomic indulgences, celebrating wine, cuisine, music and art in the gorgeous setting of California’s Central Coast with its spectacular ocean views and laidback lifestyle. From Thursday, July 7 through Sunday, July 10, wine enthusiasts will gather at the Avila Beach Resort and other venues in and around the areas of Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Shell Beach, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and San Simeon. The Central Coast Wine Classic will once again showcase special wine tastings, symposia, cooking demonstrations, winery dinners, auction events, and great camaraderie, all offering gracious hospitality and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
While the Wine Classic’s exciting headline event is the Live and Silent Auctions, which are among the most successful in America, garnering proceeds sometimes in excess of $1,000,000, the Wine Classic is much more than that with its ever-expanding educational focus. It has grown from an afternoon wine tasting to become a stylish, highly rewarding, very popular fundraiser, where education is key, attended by wine lovers, vintners, chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, honorees and press. The Classic, founded by Archie McLaren, who remains the event’s Executive Director and driving force behind it, offers something of interest for everyone. The Classic began with and continues to fulfill the multiple purposes of promotion of the Central Coast wine industry, education of event participants, encouragement of the symbiotic pairing of food and wine and the raising of money for the Wine Classic Foundation.
The Classic begins on Thursday afternoon with a Barrel Tasting at the Avila Beach Golf Resort in Avila Beach, featuring yet-to-be-released wines from an array of California wineries ($30/person).
Dine Under the Stars at Hearst Castle
For a truly magical evening, dining under the stars at the Hearst Castle hilltop, is a not-to-be missed experience. The gala Dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, is a fabulous, six-course meal featuring culinary luminaries, Hawaii Chefs Roy Yamaguchi, D. K. Kodama and George Mavrothalassitis, with Michael Hutchings of Santa Barbara presenting the hors d’oeuvres, coordinated by Chef James Sly of Sly’s in Carpenteria, matching wines from Vintner Dignitaries. The annual black-tie affair at Hearst Castle, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Santa Lucia Mountains at San Simeon is always sold out. A special guided tour of the 165-room Castle with 127 acres of gardens, terraces and walkways and a Sunset Champagne reception around the Greco-Roman Neptune Pool precedes the dinner ($1,250/person patron sponsorship required, includes Barrel Tasting, Auction events and Reserve Tasting).
Also scheduled for Thursday evening is the Fifth Annual Central Coast Wine Classic Paulée “Bring-Your-Own Bottle” Dinner presented at the Avila Beach Golf Resort ($95/person).
Friday starts early with the Central Coast Cycling Classic where Vintner and Cycling Aficionado, Carissa Chappellet, will lead you on a moderate difficulty ride in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country and to one of the most beautiful ocean and mountain view areas on the Central Coast. The ride begins at and returns to the Avila Lighthouse Suites in Avila Beach. Winery visits and a luncheon are included ($75/person).
Enjoy Symposia, Winemaker Dinners and an Outdoor Dinner Concert
Friday events also feature several symposia: A Malbec Symposium, hosted by wine educator and author, Karen MacNeil, will feature Malbecs from Achaval-Ferrer Winery, Chappellet Winery, Hope & Grace Wines, J & J Cellars, Justin Vineyards, Midnight Cellars, Silver Horse Winery, Tritono, Turchi Winery and other fine Malbecs from California and Argentina. Malbec is one of the historic varieties of the Bordeaux region of France. But, today the grape has found a new home in Argentina where it is thriving as a varietal. In addition to Argentina, the grape has also found special terroir in California. This event will take place at the Avila Lighthouse Suites in Avila Beach ($45/person).
This year’s Cooking Demonstration & Luncheon hosted by San Francisco radio personality Narsai David, featuring Chef D. K. Kodama and Chef Mavro, with cuisine paired with fine wines from Central Coast vintners, will be held under the tents at the Avila Beach Golf Resort ($95/person).
Maisons, Marques & Domaines Fine Wine Symposium, hosted by Xavier Barlier, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, will feature Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal, Ladoucette Pouilly Fumé, and Delas Freres Hermitage from France; Meerlust Stellenbosch Rubicon from South Africa; California’s Dominus Estate; Marques de Murrieta Ygay from Spain; Italy’s Pio Cesare Barolo; and Ramos Pinto 20-year old Tawny from Portugal, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort ($55/person).
The Cheese Shop in Carmel, will provide eight special cheeses paired with four fine wines from California vintners, for the Cheese & Wine Symposium, hosted by owner, Kent Torrey, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort ($45/person).
If you’re a fizz fanatic, wake up your taste buds at the Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Sparkling Wine Discussion & Reception, featuring Roederer Estate Multi-Vintage Rosé, hosted by Xavier Barlier and Archie McLaren, at the Avila Lighthouse Suites. Xavier will share with you the special terroir of Roederer Estate, followed by a toast and tasting ($45/person).
That evening, winemaker-hosted dinners will take place at restaurants and wineries throughout San Luis Obispo County, including Baileyana & Tangent Wines at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa; Claiborne & Churchill Vintners, Saucelito Canyon Vintners, and Tolosa Winery at the San Luis Obispo Golf & Country Club in the Edna Valley; Edna Valley Vineyard at the winery; Justin Vineyards & Winery at the winery; and Windward Vineyard & L’ Aventure Winery at Windward Vineyard. Transportation from and returning to the Avila Beach Lighthouse Suites for all dinners is provided ($95/person).
For percussion enthusiasts, the VIP Outdoor Dinner and Concert at the Avila Beach Golf Resort promises to be a delightful event. This vibrant concert features world-renowned percussionist, Airto Moreira, and his group of remarkable, stellar percussionists from throughout the world, including Diana Booker, Krishna Booker, Gibi, Carlinhos do Pandeiro de Ouro and Leo Costa. The dinner cuisine will be presented by the Golf Resort Chef Team with fine wines from Ancient Peaks, Center of Effort Winery & Sinor-Lavallee ($125/person).
Bid on Exciting, Unique Lots of Wine, Dining and Travel
Saturday is the always exhilarating headline event, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction, Silent Auctions and Luncheon, which will take place under the great tent, at the Official Host Auction Venue, the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Auction activities include the Early Bird Silent Auction, Live Auction Preview, Super Silent Auction and the multi-course luncheon presented by the Golf Resort’s Grill Restaurant. Renowned, energetic auctioneer David Reynolds and his compatriot, Greg Quiroga, will wield the gavel at the Auction, featuring an amazing array of rare and fine wine and comprehensive packages to various destinations throughout the U.S. and around the world, including extraordinary Relais & Chateaux hotels and restaurants ($125/person).
Sunday starts with the Chardonnay Terroir Symposium, hosted by Master Sommelier and Vintner, Larry Stone, featuring a number of delightful Chardonnays from an array of California appellations, including Alpha Omega Winery, Au Bon Climat, Brewer-Clifton Winery, Carmody-McKnight Vineyards, Chappellet Winery, La Follette Wines, Landmark Vineyards, Pisoni Vineyards, Talbott Vineyards, Thomas Fogarty Winery, Tolosa Winery and Wedell Cellars at the Avila Beach Golf Resort ($45/person).
The finale of the festivities is the Reserve Wine Tasting, showcasing the Most Special Wines of 50 California wineries, with culinary samplings from fine Central Coast restaurants, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort ($45/person).
Last year, the Central Coast Wine Classic brought in nearly $850,000 at the Auction, slightly above the 2009 proceeds of $843,000, which was an increase of 6.5% over 2008. The Foundation, established in 2004, awards monies to fund project-specific grants to non-profits involving studio arts, performing arts, and healing arts in the counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Over the past seven years the Foundation has conferred grants totaling over $1.6 Million to 76 such non-profits.
The Wine Classic’s Venues and Recommended Lodging and Dining
The main venue for most of the activities of the Classic is the Avila Beach Golf Resort, the official event site, nestled in the surrounding hills and on the bay, between oak-lined valleys and a tidal estuary, offering a par 71 championship golf course (www.avilabeachresort.com, (805) 595-4000). Some of the events also take place at the official hotel site, Avila Lighthouse Suites, an all-suite, luxury oceanfront, boutique hotel, viewing the natural beauty of Avila Beach. The 54-unit hotel is stylish, relaxing and comfortable, with private balconies and patios, all with ocean views. (www.avilalighthousesuites.com, (800) 372-8452)
While there are many lodging and dining possibilities in the area, following are some of our favorites:
The Cliffs Resort at Shell Beach, located between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach, situated on a 50-foot high bluff above the Pacific Ocean, is a spectacular oceanfront resort. The 5-story hotel, reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa, has 166 guestrooms with balconies offering ocean or mountain views, an oceanfront cocktail lounge and dining room and a magnificent pool surrounded by dramatic waterfalls. The Marisol Restaurant serves excellent Latin cuisine. A particularly enjoyable pastime here is walking on the uncrowded , sunny beach at the base of the bluff, and poking about the fascinating tide pools. (www.cliffsresort.com, (800) 826-7827)
Also in Shell Beach, the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, is a beautiful, luxurious, elegant oceanfront hotel. The resort’s Lido Restaurant is noted for its excellent California cuisine. (www.thedolphinbay.com, (805) 773-4300)
The Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach, dating to 1987, offers a romantic setting, with lush gardens, lawn, courtyard and gazebo nestled among oak and sycamore trees. There are 51 rooms with a full-size mineral spa on a private deck or balcony, as well as redwood hot tubs tucked away on a wooded hillside for non-guests. The sulphur-based mineral water, naturally hot, is known to impart a very therapeutic effect. The Gardens of Avila Restaurant serves delicious, innovative California cuisine either in an elegant yet relaxing dining room or on their 100-year-old garden patio. (www.sycamoresprings.com, (800) 234-5831)
The Inn at Morro Bay, located on 4,000 acres inside Morro Bay State Park, is a beautiful coastal hideaway. The Cape Cod-style buildings overlook picturesque Morro Bay and harbor dotted with boats, and the ancient Morro Rock. Enjoy a very romantic meal on a patio in the Orchid Restaurant. (www.innatmorrobay.com, (800) 321-9566)
Sea Venture Resort offers casually elegant accommodations right on the beach at Pismo Beach, with private balconies and hot tubs. The resort’s restaurant serves contemporary coastal cuisine with a seasonal menu. (www.seaventure.com, (800) 662-5545)
Cambria Pines Lodge is situated on 25 wooded acres with accommodations ranging from rustic cabins to elegant suites with fireplaces. This is a pet-friendly place surrounded by world-class gardens and nature trails. The restaurant and Fireside Lounge offer local wines and organic produce grown in the Lodge’s gardens. (www.cambriapineslodge.com, (800) 445-6868)
Hotel Cheval in downtown Paso Robles is a very stylish, boutique luxury hotel, featuring outdoor stone fireplaces, the Pony Club wine bar and world-class service. (www.hotelcheval.com, (866) 522-6999)
Paso Robles Inn, an historic hotel dating to 1890, offers an early-California atmosphere and tree-shaded manicured grounds in the heart of downtown Paso Robles. Dining is available at the Hotel’s Steakhouse, either in a quiet garden or beside a fireplace in the dining room. Harris Ranch beef is featured on the menu. (www.pasoroblesinn.com, (800) 676-1713)
Garden Street Inn Bed & Breakfast in San Luis Obispo is a delightful, small, historic bed and breakfast in an 1887 Victorian home. The guestrooms have private baths, fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. (www.gardenstreetinn.com, (800) 488-2045)
In addition to those already mentioned, the Central Coast’s picturesque little seaside communities have many attractive choices for dining. For a very casual, yet satisfying, dining experience, have breakfast or lunch at the Fat Cat’s Cafe on the Pier at Port San Luis in Avila Beach. Also in Avila Beach is the Olde Port Inn, spectacularly located at the end of Harford Pier in Port San Luis Harbor, offering great seafood over the ocean.
Please contact Archie McLaren for further information and registration: email — email@example.com; telephone — (805)544-1285; fax (805) 595-2742; Wine Classic website: www.centralcoastwineclassic.org