After 29 years of creating unforgettable Central Coast Wine Classic (CCWC) events, founder and executive director Archie McLaren remains as ardent as he’s ever been in his mission to honor the Central Coast’s outstanding artists. That’s certainly the reason this popular charity wine event continues to attract so many people year to year, from across the states and beyond.
Yet McLaren’s focus has never been strictly about promoting fine wine and good eats; his event features every genre of the arts. Over the last nine years, the CCWC Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle auction has raised far more than $2 million for 103 individual nonprofit charities. During a time of “economic uncertainties,” as McLaren said of the last few years, that’s one impressive track record.
“Who would have thought that a modest tasting and auction in Avila Beach 29 years ago would have become one of the nation’s most well-respected and most sought-after charity food and wine events?” McLaren asked with earned pride in this year’s CCWC announcement.
Most years, Wine Spectator has named the event among its top 10 list of charity wine auctions in America.
“The most gratifying aspect of our proceedings was its consistency,” McLaren said. “Our statewide and nationwide demographic audience is extraordinary, and they generously and altruistically rose to the occasion.”
McLaren provides those much-needed funds to many local nonprofit charities in the healing, studio, and performing arts. My first column in June 1996 announced that year’s upcoming CCWC, and though I’ve written about each one since, the lineup of symposia, winemakers’ dinners, and grand tastings never fails to intrigue and attract me, as it does all devotees of the CCWC. I continue to promote this event early because attractions like the Hearst Castle dinner, amazing past cooking classes with chefs Emeril Lagasse and Gary Danko, and the informative wine symposia always sold out well in advance.
- PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL COAST WINE CLASSIC
- CHAMPAGNE SYMPOSIUM : Archie McLaren toasted Fabrice Rosset from Champagne Deutz in France during the Deutz Champagne Symposium.
People who can’t afford to attend every event during CCWC can pick and choose from anything within its lineup of events if they do so soon enough. Choose from the barrel tasting at Avila Lighthouse Suites featuring awesome Central Coast wineries ($30); SLO County chardonnay symposium ($50); “The venerable, the relatively new and the new” cabernet sauvignon symposium ($65); and the Santa Barbara County syrah symposium ($50).
“Santa Barbara’s focus has been pinot noir for many years,” McLaren explained. “Syrah is a grape that produces remarkable wines from that terroir, and there are a number of relatively new producers who deserve to be showcased.”
The epicurean Hearst Castle dinner features chefs from Monterey, Big Sur, Yosemite, and Santa Barbara ($1,250, patron sponsorship required). There’s also a repeat of the popular dinner featuring Justin Vineyards at Lido Restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort ($95); an alfresco VIP winery dinner dance and paulée (the French term for a dinner party where every guest brings wine to share) in Avila Beach Golf Resort by Lido chef Maegen Loring paired with wines from SLO, Santa Barbara, and Monterey counties, and Napa Valley ($95); and the fabulous wine and lifestyle auction where chef Rick Manson’s multi-course gourmet luncheon ($125) keeps bidders sated.
“The Central Coast Wine Classic’s mission of promoting wines and tourism on the Central Coast, of supporting nonprofits in SLO and Santa Barbara counties, and of making people aware of the symbiotic relationship between fine cuisine and fine wine and the rational and appropriate use of each, have to a large extent been accomplished,” McLaren said. “We want to continue to accomplish them and celebrate our past, our present, and our future in 2014 during our 30th annual celebratory event.”
You will find there’s only one other wine charity event this awesome in breadth, and it takes place in Napa Valley. But there is this one unfortunate fact: Napa doesn’t have a castle! ∆
Contact Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at email@example.com.