The popular Central Coast Wine Classic (CCWC) is here at last, much to the appreciation of its huge fan base. But those who haven’t attended should know this: It’s so much more than a wine festival because of CCWC Founder and Chairman Archie McLaren, a patron of the arts. A longtime resident and advocate of Avila Beach, he created CCWC the summer of 1984 and helped the excellent local wineries prove their wines stood beside the finest wines in the world.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
“I knew Central Coast wines were substantially better than they were given credit for at the time, so I invited wineries from around the world to come here,” McLaren recalled. “I wanted people to taste Bordeaux’s Pichon Lalande beside Justin Isosceles, and Burgundy’s Domaine Lafond beside Au Bon Climat’s Chardonnay. It was the only way people would understand the extremely high quality of wines produced here.”
McLaren also brought in great chefs to further illustrate that these wines paired exquisitely with world-class cuisine. If any Central Coast winery dinner event surpasses the elegant and lavish CCWC Dinner at Hearst Castle anywhere on the Central Coast, I’ve yet to see it. With all due respect to other local festivals, I can say that no other wine event has done as much to bring wine and food superstars to this great wine-growing region while providing extraordinarily generous donations to local charities and the arts.
CCWC attracts hundreds of food and wine aficionados from around the world with its exceptional culinary events. It has always included celebrity chefs, among them Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pepin, Cat Cora, Michel Richard, and many others, who prepare the dinner at Hearst Castle. The following day these renowned chefs conduct cooking demonstrations at which guests can enjoy the exemplary meal they just watched being prepared, paired with fine wines from the excellent participating wineries. The focus is San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara county wineries, but always includes exceptional wineries from Napa Valley, the Pacific Northwest, and Europe.
This year, three celebrity chefs will prepare dinner at Hearst Castle: Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s of Hawaii, D.K. Kodama of Sansei Seafood & Sushi Bar, and George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro Restaurant. You can still be included on the guest list for the Hearst Castle dinner by becoming a CCWC Patron Sponsor. Chefs Kodama and Mavrothalassitis will conduct the cooking demonstration and luncheon the following day at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. This enjoyable experience is reasonably priced for nearly anyone’s budget. And this spacious venue provides the opportunity for many more people to attend this outstanding demonstration and luncheon.
Our finest Central Coast chefs have always participated: Cal Stamenov of Bernardus
Lodge in Carmel Valley, and the late Bill Hoppe of Hoppe’s Garden Bistro. This year, four great local chefs will prepare the multi-course meal at the VIP Dinner Concert Friday night, and the multi-course auction luncheon on Saturday: Laurent Grangien of Bistro Laurent in Paso Robles, Ian McPhee of McPhee’s Grill in Templeton, Rick Manson of the now-closed Chef Rick’s in Santa Maria, and Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post in Buellton.
I’ve attended CCWC every year since 1996 and wouldn’t dream of missing these one-of-a-kind symposia and meals. Neither should any connoisseur of the arts. This highly regarded fundraiser benefits nonprofit organizations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties whose mission is in the healing, performing, or studio arts. Over the last seven years, the CCWC Foundation, a nonprofit established in 2004, has bestowed $1,615,943 to 76 of those organizations.
A CCWC first: The VIP Outdoor Dinner and Concert features the legendary percussionist Airto Moreira, and several other bands and dance performances.
“Airto was the first headliner at our fundraiser to rejuvenate Avila Beach when the town was torn down,” McLaren explained passionately. “Now he’s back as headliner and will see it restored.”
The rejuvenation of Avila Beach
A tribute to Central Coast wines since 1984, the Central Coast Wine Classic presents the finest wine and food, including culinary treasures from around the world. This four-day wine event, now in its 27th year, takes place July 7 through 10 at the Avila Beach Golf Resort (events happening at other venues are noted). Prices listed are per person and most require reservations; tickets are available at the gate for barrel tasting and the concert (without dinner).
Thursday, July 7
• Barrel Tasting, Avila Lighthouse Suites, 2 to 5 p.m., $30
• Dinner at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, 5 to 11 p.m., Patrons and Sponsors only
• The fifth annual Paulée Dinner—bring your own bottle, 7 p.m., $95
Friday, July 8
• Central Coast Cycling Classic and Lunch with Carissa Chappellet, Avila Lighthouse Suites, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., $75
• Malbec Symposium, 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., $45
• Cooking Demonstration and Lunch with Hawaiian chefs D.K. Kodama and George Mavrothalassitis, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., $95
• Maisons Marques & Domaines Fine Wine Symposium with Xavier Barlier, Avila Lighthouse Suites, 2 to 4 p.m., $55
• Cheese and Wine Symposium with Kent Torrey of Carmel’s Cheese Shop, 2 to 4 p.m., $45
• Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine Discussion and Reception, Avila Lighthouse Suites, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., $45
• Winery dinners at various local restaurants and wineries, 7 p.m., $95, round trip transportation from Avila Lighthouse Suites included
• VIP Outdoor Dinner, Wines, and Concert featuring renowned percussionist Airto Moreira and several other fine musicians, 7 to 10 p.m., $125, or concert only, $25
Contact New Times’ Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at email@example.com.