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A Culinary Evening With The California Winemasters, Burbank, California

Vintage Affaire, Woodside, California

Central Coast Wine Classic, Avila Beach, California

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church Cellar Classic, Los Olivos, California


 The 23rd Annual Culinary Evening With The California Winemasters Generated Over $1.7 Million
for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The “Midwest Street” backlot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank set the stage for “A Culinary Evening With The California Winemasters” on May 19, raising $1,738,500 Million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s vital research and care centers, besting 2011’s  total of $1.6 Million, showing an outpouring of generosity and love.  Wining and dining under the stars in the setting of a quintessential Any Town USA, the sold-out extravaganza was attended by 1,400 wine and food lovers from all across the country.  Throughout the exciting, magical evening, gourmet cuisine from over 45 celebrity chefs from around the world, and wines from 73 of California’s most talented winemakers, were enjoyed by guests while participating in silent and live auctions, bidding on extraordinary items.


The 2012 event was one of the most extravagant auctions in history with over 800 live and silent auction items from fantasy trips to exclusive collector wines.  The live auction included a nine-day holiday in Argentina with stays in Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Patagonia that sold for $28,000; a chance to blow glass in the studio with artist Dale Chihuly’s sculpture team that sold for $23,000 and dinner with Laurie and John Tilson at their Montecito estate featuring wines from their extensive cellar that sold for $14,000.  Live auction wine lots featured a unique bottle of 1947 Chateau Suduiraut that sold for $3,800 ; a 3 Liter of 1999 Peter Michael Les Pavots that sold for $5,200 and a vertical collection of 2004-2009 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache that was auctioned off for $17,000.

Silent auction lots included a 10-day adventure on three private islands in French Polynesia that sold for more than $6,200 and a one of a kind Manuel Rodriguez, Jr. guitar that sold for $5,000.  Among the most popular wine lots were an etched 5 Liter of 1984 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander that sold for $1,800, a 3 Liter of 2009 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection that sold for $2,200 and six bottles of 1993 Opus One that sold for $2,100.  Dinner for four prepared by Sue and Stephen Parry along with 20 bottles of Perry Cellars wines plus a 3 Liter sold twice for $3,175.


Auction organizer and Director of Special Giving, Barbara Balik attributed the great success of this year’s auction to the quality lots, many of which were unsolicited donations.  A Culinary Evening With the California Winemasters, according to the event’s founding sponsor and Co-Chairman, Allen Balik, is a unique gourmet experience, offering something for everyone, and it is a particularly worthwhile charity event in that 91 cents of every dollar raised goes directly into Cystic Fibrosis research and cure programs, making this the highest percentage of any non-profit organization in the country.  Honorary Chairmen for the event were the Schweiger family of Schweiger Vineyards and Chef Craig Strong of Studio at Montage, Laguna Beach.

According to Barbara Balik, thanks to new treatments, people with cystic fibrosis are now living one year longer for every year of research.  Sponsors, vintners, chefs and guests understand their support is the reason for this lifesaving reprieve.

The 24th  Annual Culinary Evening With The California Winemasters is set for Saturday, May 18, 2013, at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.  Please contact Barbara Balik for further information and registration:  email: bbalik@cff.org; Telephone: (707) 258-1661; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website:  www.californiawinemasters.org [3].


The 30th Annual Vintage Affaire Took Place on June 23, 2012, at Mountain Meadow Estate in Woodside, California

Vintage Affaire, an elegant party with fine wines, gourmet cuisine, live music and one-of-a-kind auction items occurred on Saturday, June 23 at the historic country estate of Mountain Meadow in Woodside.  Always a wonderful affair to remember, it is one of the largest wine and destination auctions in California.  Vintage Affaire prides itself on providing truly exceptional locations for their guests to enjoy a lovely afternoon and evening.

Over the past 30 years, Vintage Affaire has raised over $8 million for Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Palo Alto.  These funds enable Vista Center clients to achieve their highest potential through programs that promote independence and improve the quality of life, including the low vision clinic and rehabilitation services such as counseling, orientation and mobility training, living skills instruction and more.


The event is organized by the nonprofit Vista Center Foundation Board of Directors and is staffed entirely by community volunteers.  Susan Martin is the President of VCF’s Board of Directors.  The auction typically includes wine lots from hard-to-find California vintages, first-growth French Bordeaux, and emerging vineyards from “Down Under.” In addition, there are tours and tasting events at Napa and Sonoma vineyards, and wine country dinners in Napa and on the Peninsula.

Vintage Affaire offers two tiers of tickets, both of which support Vista Center.

Club Level:  The afternoon began with an elegant wine tasting featuring approximately 30 of California’s top vintners and hors d’oeuvre pairings prepared and served by noted local chefs, while participating in the silent and live auctions.  The chefs who were on hand to talk about their gourmet offerings included, Xavier Salomon of The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay; Peter Rudolph of Madera at Rosewood Sand Hill, Menlo Park; Marty Cattaneo of Dio Deka Restaurant, Los Gatos; Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley; Donato Scotti of Donato Enoteca, Redwood City; and John Karbowski of Cetrella, Half Moon Bay.

Patron Level: Enjoyed all Club Level events and a candlelight wine pairing dinner on the estate’s elegant grounds,  following the live auction.  Patrons also received an invitation to the spectacular Vintage Evening held at a private residence in Silicon Valley on June 21, just prior to Vintage Affaire.  The Vintage Evening was underwritten by Neiman Marcus.

Highlights of the live auction’s fabulous, wine, travel and unique lifestyle lots included a helicopter flight over San Francisco Bay, a 7-night stay in a luxurious ocean view villa located in Villas del Mar, Los Cabos, Mexico; a 12-day cruise from Istanbul, Turkey to Barcelona, Spain on Crystal Cruises; Exclusive Inspirato Member’s Only Vacation Club for 7 nights, choosing from 40 popular destinations; 4 nights in an over water mountain view bungalow in the Four Seasons Bora Bora; and dinner at the home of the French Consul General in San Francisco, with famous chef and cookbook author Joanne Weir.


John Glines, who has conducted auction all over the west coast, wielded the gavel again this year.

Vintage Affaire will once again take place in 2013 in the gardens of a stunning private estate in the area of Woodside, California. Please contact Vista Center at 650-858-0202 for additional information, website:  www.vintageaffaire.org [6].


The 28th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic
Raised Over $825,000

The 28th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction, held from July 12 through July 15, has been called by Wine Spectator, one of the “Top Ten” Charity Wine Auctions in America.  It included offerings of rare wines and lifestyle packages from California’s Central Coast and other wine and culinary destinations in California, as well as around the United States and throughout the world.  Also included were remarkable art works from exceptional California artists.  The Live and Silent Auctions raised $826,415, which included $100,000 donated to the Children’s Resource Network of the Central Coast through the Annual Fund-A-Need Auction Lot.

In July, wine enthusiasts gathered at the Avila Beach Resort and other venues in and around the areas of Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Shell Beach, and San Simeon to enjoy the four-day extravaganza of gastronomic indulgences in the gorgeous setting of California’s Central Coast with its panoramic ocean views.  The Central Coast Wine Classic traditionally showcases special wine tastings, symposia, winery dinners, auction events, and great camaraderie, all offering gracious hospitality and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere

Events began on Thursday afternoon with a Barrel Tasting at Avila Lighthouse Suites, offering guests the opportunity to taste a comprehensive array of unreleased wines from a variety of California wineries.

That evening, the gala Dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon was a fabulous six-course meal with matching wines from Vintner Dignitaries,  featuring the culinary artistry of Central Coast Chefs, Laurent Grangien of Bistro Laurent in Paso Robles, Kurt Grasing from Grasing’s in Carmel, Michael Hutchings from Michael’s Catering in Santa Barbara, Ian McPhee of McPhee’s Grill in Templeton, Frank Ostini from The Hitching Post in Buellton and James Sly from Sly’s in Carpinteria, coordinated by Chef James Sly’s Team.  The annual black-tie affair at Hearst Castle, dining under the stars, overlooking La Casa Grande, the Greco-Roman swimming pool and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range at San Simeon, is a magical event, always sold-out.


Friday events featured several symposia:  The Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir Symposium, held at the Avila Lighthouse Suites and the Napa Valley Cabernet Symposium, “The Venerable, the Relatively New & the New,” held at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.  On Friday evening, Justin Vineyards & Winery hosted a Winemaker Dinner at Lido Restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Shell Beach.  Also on Friday, there was a VIP Outdoor Winery Dinner Dance at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, hosted by special Wineries from San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County and the Napa Valley, presenting the Cuisine of Meghan Loring and the exhilarating music of the Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band.

Saturday morning was the Roederer Estate Methode Champenoise Symposium, hosted by Arnaud Weyrich, Vice President of Production and Winemaker, a once-in-a-lifetime Vertical Tasting of Roederer Estate L’Ermitage in Magnums, at Avila Beach Golf Resort.

The always exciting headline event, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Live Auction, Silent Auction and Luncheon took place on Saturday at noon under the great tent, at the Official Host Auction Venue, the Avila Beach Golf Resort in Avila Beach.  The Eclectic Cuisine of Chef Rick Manson of the upcoming Far Western Tavern in Old Orcutt was served at the luncheon.  Renowned auctioneers David Reynolds and Greg Quiroga wielded 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.


Sunday morning started with a varietal symposium of Paso Robles Red Rhone wine at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, followed by a Reserve Tasting in the afternoon, featuring the most special wines of 50 California wineries, with culinary samplings from Central Coast restaurants and the eclectic music of Soul Sauce.

Every year the Wine Classic offers fabulous lots but this year’s Auction featured some really over-the-top lots.  Highlights of 2012 included: a Wine Spectator “Top Ten” Wine Dinner with Wine Spectator Wine Writer Jim Laube at Ken Frank’s La Toque restaurant in Napa; an Orion Expedition Cruise to Exotic The Kimberley Islands near Australia and New Guinea; a Relais & Chateaux French Wine Country Excursion from Paris to Bordeaux to the Rhone to Burgundy to Champagne and returning to Paris, with visits to stellar wine properties and dinners at Relais & Chateaux restaurants as well as at Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris; a VIP trip to 2014 Monaco Grand Prix Automobile Race; a Micato Luxury Excursion to India; a Wine Country Excursion to South Africa; a New York Fine Dining Trip; an Aman Resorts Seven Night Sri Lankan Stay at Amangalla; stays and dinners at Diamond Creek Vineyards and Chappellet Winery; and a dinner at the Montecito estate of John and Laurie Tilson, to feature exquisite cuisine matched with rare, extraordinary wine.

The Wine Classic has grown from an afternoon wine tasting to become a highly successful, 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 Chairman 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 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 eight years the Foundation has conferred grants totaling $1,883,386.

Please contact Archie McLaren for further information and registration for 2013’s 29th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic:  email: archie@slonet.org [9]; Telephone: (805) 544-1285; fax (805) 595-2742; Wine Classic website:  www.centralcoastwineclassic.org [10].



St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church Raised $177,000 At Its Third Annual Cellar Classic

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church’s Cellar Classic raised $177,000 at its 3rd Annual Cellar Classic: An Auction of Rare & Fine Wines, held on Saturday, July 28, 2012 in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Net profit after expenses was $166,000.  Last year, the event raised over $130,000, the largest single-event fundraiser in church history, surpassing the $103,000 raised during the first event in 2010 to support the Church’s community programs.  The event, which featured a live and silent auction of rare and fine wines and unique lifestyle events was co-chaired by Steve Pepe, owner of Clos Pepe Vineyards and Brooks Firestone, owner of Curtis Winery.


Prior to the live auction, guests enjoyed gourmet hors d’oeuvres and cheeses,  wines donated from area vintners, and musical selections from the St. Mark’s choir.  All food and wine served during the event as well as the rare wines, live and silent auction items were mostly donated by St. Mark’s members, community leaders and friends.

For this 3rd annual event, popular wine, food and travel writer, Gabe Saglie, served as the Honorary Chair, in recognition of his tremendous support of the Cellar Classic since its inception and for helping to bring national and international appreciation to fine wines and Santa Barbara viticulture.  According to Saglie, the Cellar Classic Wine Auction gives the Napa Valley Wine Auction a run for its money.

Cellar Classic highlights included a silent auction of 34 lots as well as a live auction of 30 lots gaveled by professional auctioneer, John Glines.  High bids included two lots that sold for $10,000 each: Chateaux Latour and Haut Brion from 1961 in one lot and three Burgundies from Maison Leroy, 1949 Musigny, and Chambertin from 1955 and 1959.  A bottle of 2003 Richebourg from DRC sold for $8,500.  The 1985 Richebourg from Henri Jayer sent for $7,000 and the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc was also auctioned off for $7,000.  A magnum of 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild sold for $8,000.  The cult classic 1999 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $3,000.  Other rare, collectible wines included Opus One, Phelps Insignia, 1982 La Mission Haut Brion, 1975 Chateau d’Yquem, 2000 Chateau Pavie, 1970 Vega Sicilia Unico, and 1949 Musigny from Maison Leroy.   A 5-night stay at the Firestone family’s mountain cabin in Utah’s Deer Valley went for $5,500.

The Rev. Dr. Randall C. K. Day, Rector of St. Mark’s, said that the Cellar Classic was successful in many ways, in addition to the financial result that will allow the Church to continue to serve not only their Episcopal congregation but also to function as a meeting place for the area’s Jewish congregation, Food Bank, Valley Community Theatre and recovery groups, as well as to provide art, music and educational programs.  St. Mark’s assisted 40 non-profit organizations and programs in 2010-11.  New this year is a donation to fund ‘camperships’ for children at the nearby Circle V Ranch Camp operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  The money raised, according to the Rev. Dr. Day, was a result of many people giving an incredible amount of creativity, time, labor, financial and material resources.


The 4th Annual Cellar Classic will take place in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday, June 29th.  For more information, contact Stephen Pepe, 805-735-7867 or steve@clospepe.com [13] or The Rev. Dr. Randall, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church at 805-688-4454, or randall@smitv.org [14], or visit www.SMITV.org [15].