- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- GRAND MASTER : A classic in his own right, Archie McLaren originated the Central Coast’s signature wine celebration.
The Central Coast Wine Classic (CCWC) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and though it’s more aged than most SLO County wine festivals, like good wine the classic evolves with each vintage. The silver anniversary of CCWC will provide a four-day extravaganza of educational events. Whether you attend its educational seminars, tastings of exclusive and rare wines, winemakers’ dinners, or the cooking class and luncheon, you’ll walk away better informed about the wines and foods you love, and hold unforgettable memories of the experience.
CCWC was created by chairman Archie McLaren, a bon vivant who works tirelessly at promoting Central Coast wines to connoisseurs around the world. By the time the event takes place, he’s already working on the next year’s event. And his work hardly stops there. He ensures many worthy charitable organizations benefit from the CCWC. This year there are 13 beneficiaries, including the CC Alzheimer’s Association, KCBX Public Radio, Transitions Mental Health, Prado Day Care Center, Food Bank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, and several others. Asked what has been most gratifying over the past 24 years, McLaren first thought of CCWC’s beneficiaries:
He noted that recent averages show CCWC supporters come from 200 California coastal communities, 30 states, and a handful of foreign countries.
No matter how many Champagne, Chardonnay, Bordeaux blend, or Zinfandel seminars have been conducted in the past, McLaren keeps CCWC fresh each year by changing the seminars and bringing in renowned winemakers and chefs from other notable wine regions. You’ll find those varieties the subject of this year’s offerings.
“I pick symposia that I think would interest budding aficionados of the subject, and I try to give them an array that will add contrast to the educational process,” he said.
“When I created the concept of the Wine Classic, I knew these wines would stand side-by-side with the world’s greatest wines. I wanted to show they were equal,” McLaren remembered.
Asked which were among his favorite seminars, he, not surprisingly, picked one featuring Justin Vineyard’s 1994 Isosceles, winner of a French competition in Bordeaux as the world’s greatest red blend.
“One that really resonated with me was the Chateau Pichon Lalande and Justin Vineyards and Winery vertical vintage tasting, particularly since Madame May Elaine de Lencquesaing (owner and administrator of Pichon Lalande in Pauillac) came from Bordeaux to attend,” he recalled, “but there have been others (comparative tastings) with a similar impact.”
He considers this year’s auction lots some of the best he’s seen in 25 years: A trip to Spain’s wine regions includes dining at cutting-edge restaurants; a comprehensive trip to France visits Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Rhone with dinners at Michelin-rated resorts; one-of-a-kind art from local talent includes Yuroz, Robert Burridge, James-Paul Brown, and Joanne Ruggles; and there’s a comprehensive collection of rare and collectible wines.
“Lexus is donating a brand new RX 450h SUV, that has yet to be released to the public,” McLaren added. “Given the value, I suppose you could say that it’s our premier offering.”
McLaren foresees continued success for CCWC: “I think it has a great future. A year ago, I was interviewed by Wine Spectator and was asked that question. I believe those who educate the public and promote the hospitality industry stand a better chance of sustaining themselves, and that has been proven. The Wine Classic was the first charitable wine auction to include educational symposia, and I can’t see why that should change.”
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