- The Underground Wine Letter - http://www.undergroundwineletter.com -


Vintage Affaire, 31st Annual — Saturday, June 22, Woodside, California

Central Coast Wine Classic, 29th Annual — Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14, Avila Beach, California

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church Cellar Classic, 4th Annual — Saturday, June 29, Los Olivos, California

Our favorite charity wine auctions in California promise exhilarating, high energy events this year.  Record-setting highs in 2006 and 2007 were followed by the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009, but charity wine auctions began to show signs of economic recovery in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and expectations are strong for 2013.  The 24th annual Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, held last month at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, was once again a great success.

1626-X3- 2012 Cellar Classic auction.smitv.wine [1]

 The 31st Annual Vintage Affaire Will Take Place on Saturday, June 22, 2013, in Woodside, California

Vintage Affaire, Silicon Valley’s premier wine auction, an elegant party with fine wines, gourmet cuisine, live music and one-of-a-kind auction items is taking place on Saturday, June 22, in exclusive Woodside.  Always a wonderful affair to remember, it is one of the largest wine and destination auctions in California and benefits Palo Alto’s Vista Center.

Over the past 30 years, Vintage Affaire has raised over $8 million for Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Palo Alto and Santa Cruz.  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, Past President of Vista Center’s Board of Directors is Honorary Chairman for this year’s event.  Meaux Costello is President of Vintage Affaire and President of Vista Center 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, as well as overnight stays at Napa and Sonoma vineyards, and wine country dinners in Napa, Sonoma and on the Peninsula, global travel, unique jewelry and art, and spectacular travel items.

auction.vintage.affaire [2]

Following are just a few of the fabulous lifestyle packages to bid on:  Escape to a Blue Water Paradise at Villas Del Mar in Los Cabos for 7 nights; A Week for 8 in an Italian Villa; America’s Cup Party for 8; Inspirato Vacation for a week in Mexico; Cape Town Wine Experience; Le Cordon Bleu Experience in Paris; Winter Vacation in Northstar; Party for 60 at the Candy Store, where the “candy” is rare vintage cars; Duck Hunt and Duck Dinner; Palm Springs Vacation; and tickets to an exclusive Universal Pictures Premiere.

Among the special dinners are:  Dinner for 12 at La Folie in San Francisco; Dinner for 10 at Madera in the Rosewood; Dining in the French Style at Cercle de L’Union; Dine Al Fresco at a Private Residence in Atherton.  Exceptional lots offering wines, wine tours and tastings, include: Hundred Acre Cabernet Sauvignon; Fabulous Collection from Dominique Lafon; The Council Verticals; Testarossa Tour and Tasting for 12; Screaming Eagle; Rosati Ranch Stay and Tasting; Meteor Vineyard Tour and Tasting; Harlan Estate Wines; and Ridge Monte Bello.

A select group of vintners joins Vintage Affaire each year to share their wonderful wines.  Many also offer special auction items.  Outstanding local chefs contribute their talents to Vintage Affaire with special food and wine pairings to be featured during the silent auction.

Guests will sip on wines from over 20 pouring vintners such as Bespoke Collection, The Council, Delectus Winery, Entre Nous from Kristine Ashe, Hanzell Vineyards, Jonata, Maggy Hawk, Melka Wines, Ramey, Ridge, Skipstone, Testarossa Winery, ZD Wines and many more.  Guest Chefs, including Peter Rudolph from Madera of the Rosewood, Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge, Xavier Salomon of The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Donato Scotti of Donato Enoteca and Safir Rezzoug of Cetrella.

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

At the Guest Level, guests will enjoy the silent and live auctions, wine tasting from pouring vintners, hors d’oeuvres from guest chefs, as well as a wine pairing dinner.  The ticket price is $350 per person.

At the Patron Level, guests will enjoy all of the perks of the Guest Level as well as receive an invitation to Vintage Evening on June 20, 2013, a private reception to be held at an exclusive Atherton residence with fine wines poured by Ridge Vineyards.

John Glines, who has conducted all types of auctions all over the west coast, will once again be the auctioneer for the fourth year.

Vintage Affaire supports the work of Vista Center which empowers individuals who are blind and visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest.  Founded in 1936 by interested and inspired citizens of Palo Alto as the Palo Alto Society for the Blind, it was incorporated in 1945.  In the 1970s, the name was changed to Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  Today, Vista Center is the premiere resource for individuals with vision loss in San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, serving more than 2,500 clients and families each year.

For information and registration please contact Vista Center at 650-858-0202 or visit the website, www.vintageaffaire.org [3] for additional information, including a list of vintners, chefs, and unique auction items and to order tickets.


The 29th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic Is Taking Place July 11-14, 2013, at Avila Beach, California

Wine enthusiasts will gather at Avila Beach, San Simeon and Shell Beach for the festivities of the 29th Annual Central Coast Wine Classic, from Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14, a four-day extravaganza celebrating the wines, cuisine, music, art and the laidback lifestyle of California’s Central Coast.  The Wine Classic will once again showcase special wine tastings, symposia, winery dinners, auction events, and great camaraderie, all offering gracious hospitality and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the gorgeous setting of California’s Central Coast with its panoramic ocean views.

central coast wine classic [4]

Thursday, July 11

Events begin on Thursday afternoon with a Barrel Tasting at Avila Lighthouse Suites, once again the Official Hotel venue of the 2013 Central Coast Wine Classic, offering guests the opportunity to taste a comprehensive array of unreleased wines from a variety of California wineries, from 3 – 5 p.m. ($30/person).

That evening, the gala Black Tie Dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon will be a fabulous six-course meal with matching wines from Vintner Dignitaries,  featuring the culinary artistry of renowned chefs from throughout California, including Chef Kurt Grasing of Grasing’s in Carmel, Chef Levi Mezick from 1833 in Monterey, Chef John Cox of Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Chef Percy Whatley of The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, Chef James Sly, Chef-Owner of Sly’s in Carpenteria, and Michael Hutchings of Michael’s Catering in Santa Barbara, 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 ($1,250/person Patron Sponsorship Required, which includes the Barrel Tasting, Auction, Auction Luncheon and Reserve Tasting.  In attendance at the Dinner will be 2013 Wine Class Honorees from wineries Opus One in Oakville and Le Cuvier in Paso Robles, and a surprise Vintner Honoree from Santa Barbara County, as well as wine collector, gourmet and peripatetic Bon Vivant, José Luis Nazar from Los Angeles.

 Friday, July 12

Friday will be an exciting, fun-filled day with five special and exhilarating events.  If you are up for something different, join Carissa Chappellet’s Cycling Classic, from 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. as she leads you through San Luis Obispo County wine country, cycling among wineries in Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley.  Transportation to and from the Edna Valley, returning to the Avila Lighthouse Suites is provided, along with luncheon ($75/person).

For the less adventurous, there are two symposia:  The San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay Symposium, will take place at the Avila Lighthouse Suites, from 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 p.m. ($50/person).   The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Symposium, “The Venerable, the Relatively New & the New” will be held at the Avila Beach Golf Resort in Avila Beach from 2:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. ($65/person).

On Friday evening, Justin Vineyards & Winery will host a Winemaker Dinner at Lido Restaurant at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Shell Beach, from 7 – 10 p.m. ($95/person).  Also on Friday evening, there will be a VIP Outdoor Winery Dinner Dance & Paulée at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, hosted by special Wineries from San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Monterey County and the Napa Valley from 7 – 10 p.m.  Cuisine for the seated, multi-course dinner will be by Chef Meghan Loring of the Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach.  The exhilarating Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band will provide the music ($95/person).

central coast wine classic.jose [5]

Saturday, July 14

Saturday morning is the special French Burgundy Symposium, hosted by renowned collector and Burgundy expert, John Tilson, creator and publisher of The Underground Wine Letter, featuring outstanding white and red Burgundies from special producers at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, from 10 – 11:30 a.m. ($125/person).

The always exciting headline event, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Live Auction, Silent Auction and Luncheon is set for Saturday under the great tent, at the Official Auction Host Venue, the Avila Beach Golf Resort in Avila Beach, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Auction Preview begins at 10 and Luncheon, featuring the eclectic cuisine of Chef Rick Manson of the upcoming Far Western Tavern in Old Orcutt, and Live Auction at noon.  Renowned auctioneers David Reynolds and 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, July 14

Sunday morning starts with the Santa Barbara County Syrah Symposium at the Avila Beach Golf Resort from 11 a.m. ($50/person).  The finale of the festivities is the Reserve Wine Tasting at Avila Beach Golf Resort in the afternoon, from 1 – 4 pm., offering the Most Special Wines of 50 California Wineries, with culinary samplings from fine Central Coast restaurants, accompanied by the eclectic and upbeat music of Soul Sauce ($50/person).

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 nine years, the Foundation has conferred grants totaling $2,101,055 to 103 such non-profits.

Every year the Wine Classic features a remarkable array of fine and rare, highly collectible wines, special wine tours, tasting and dinners, and fantasy lifestyle packages, including trips to faraway lands, such as South Africa and Borneo.

For many of its 29 year history, the Central Coast Wine Classic has been among the top charity wine auctions in America, usually every year among the Wine Spectator’s “Top Ten.”

Please contact Archie McLaren for further information and registration – email: archie@slonet.org [6]; telephone: 805-544-1285; fax: 805-595-2742; Wine Classic website: www.centralcoastwineclassic.org [7]

The 4th Annual St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church Cellar Classic Is Scheduled for Saturday, June 29th, 2013 in Los Olivos, California

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos in California’s beautiful Santa Ynez Valley is hosting the 4th Annual Cellar Classic Auction of Rare & Fine Wines on Saturday, June 29.  The event will take place from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. in St. Mark’s garden courtyard and Stacy Hall at 2901 Nojoqui Avenue at the corner of Alamo Pintado Avenue in downtown Los Olivos.  The Cellar Classic is coordinated by a group of dedicated wine industry volunteers led by Steve Pepe (owner of Clos Pepe Vineyards) and Brooks Firestone (owner of Curtis Winery).

Honorary Chairs for this year’s event are Alison Wrigley Rusack and Geoff Rusack, in recognition of their commitment to the wine industry and the community.  The Rusacks have not only been generous supporters of the Cellar Classic since its inception in 2010 but also pioneers in the creation of award-winning wines from the Santa Ynez Valley as well as from their first-ever vineyard on Catalina Island.

smitv.rusack [8]

The Cellar Classic features both a live and silent auction offering rare, collectible wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy and California cult wines as well as other fine wines, wine-related gifts, wine tours, tastings and dinners and fantasy lifestyle packages.  Professional auctioneer, John Glines, who has conducted all types of auctions all over the west coast, will again wield the gavel.  A delectable array of gourmet hors d’oeuvres and cheeses will be served during the event as well as delicious local wines, accompanied by various delightful, live musical selections.  All food and wine served during the event as well as the rare wines, live and silent auction items are donated by St. Mark’s members and friends.  All proceeds benefit St. Mark’s and its extensive community programs and services in the Santa Ynez Valley.

This exciting, fun-filled event made history by raising $103,020 at its first Cellar Classic held in 2010, auctioning 30 lots of rare and fine wines and unique lifestyle events, before a sold out audience of 120 guests.  In 2011, the Cellar Classic raised $130, 117, the largest single-event fundraiser in church history.  Last year another sold-out crowd enjoyed the 3rd Annual Cellar Classic Wine Auction which raised $160,000 after expenses.  The 2013 Cellar Classic promises a delightful summer event and a record-breaking auction.

Wines donated for this year’s Cellar Classic include Chateau Mouton Rothschild from 1953, 1959 and 1970, Chateau Margaux from 1953, 1978 and 1979, 1982 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, various vintages from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 1961 Chateau Latour Domaine Henri Jayer 1985 Richebourg, 1995 DRC La Tache,  Leroy 1949 Musigny and 1959 Chambertin, 1998 Dominus, 1999 Screaming Eagle, Bruno Giacosa 2000 Barolo, 1990 Brunello di Montalcino Soldera, 1992 Masseto, 1970 Vega Sicilia Unico, 1998 Harlan Estate, 1994 Opus One, Cockburn 1997 Vintage Port, Chateau d’Yquem from 1979 and 1995, 1997 Penfolds Grange, 18 liter 2011 Santa Ynez Syrah with etched label featuring St. Mark’s unique lion,  and many more. Lifestyle packages include a pizza and wine lunch and barrel tasting for 12 at Clos Pepe, a Rancho Relaxo Picnic for 12 and a 5-night Montana vacation.

auction.smitv 2012 [9]

According to The Reverend Randall Day, St. Mark’s Priest and Rector, “We embrace a spacious Christianity where there is room for absolutely everyone.  St. Mark’s is the home of a vibrant Episcopal congregation as well as serving as a meeting place for the area’s Jewish community, along with many other organizations including the Food Bank, Valley Community Theatre, 12-step recovery groups, Santa Barbara County commission hearings, Solvang Festival Theatre, People Helping People, Los Olivos Business Organization, and Rotary just to name a few.  We actively support the arts with our Schoolhouse Music Evenings and other concerts throughout the year as well as hosting exhibitions of photography and painting.  Our Pre-School provides top-flight early childhood education for those of all faiths.  Everyone is invited to attend the Cellar Classic, truly a stellar wine industry event.”

Steve Pepe, Co-Chair, commented, “In the Cellar Classic’s first three years, the event has been a rousing financial success raising more than $350,000, with expenses only 15% of auction proceeds.  We hope to continue to provide important community service support such as a $10,000 donation funding area children to attend the nearby St. Vincent de Paul’s Circle V Ranch Camp in 2012 and a $5,000 donation to Circle V in 2011.  St. Mark’s depends on the generosity of its parishioners especially the wine industry surrounding it to provide sufficient funds to continue its mission to openly serve an increasingly diverse population with a very wide range of needs.”

Santa Barbara News-Press wine journalist Gabe Saglie has named St. Mark’s Cellar Classic one of his top ten not-to-miss wine events and noted that the event has given “the fancy Napa Auction a real run for its money.” (Pinotfile)

Cellar Classic tickets are $100 per person including wine, hors d’oeuvres and entertainment – available only in advance with payment by check, credit card or PayPal.  To receive an invitation and purchase tickets or to donate wine for the auction, contact Steve Pepe at steve@clospepe.com [10] or telephone at 805-735-7867 or call St. Mark’s office at 805-688-4454.  Visit the website at www.SMITV.org [11] for complete details.  The event is one month earlier this year.  (Cellar Classic photos taken by Mike Mesikep.)