A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
Archie McLaren‘s enthusiastic zest for food, wine, art and philanthropy is infectious! The Founder and Chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic and I recently discussed his plans for this year’s impressive event, which takes place Aug. 10-14, and spans the Central Coast from San Simeon through Paso Robles, Shell Beach, Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Buellton to Santa Barbara.
The Central Coast Wine Classic has highlighted Santa Barbara County wines throughout its many renditions, but this is the first time that some of the events will actually take place in Santa Barbara. It’s truly a remarkable opportunity to taste world-class wine and food in our hometown.
Asking McLaren to pick a favorite event was like asking a parent to name his favorite child. “Everything looks like a highlight, what would you say are some of the highlights?” I wonder.
He laughs, “That is an interesting comment, because I’ve pondered this as well. When I drew the schedule, I began to wonder what in the world I was thinking in what has been described as my overly indulgent realm, because when I look at this, basically what it looks like is all the things I would like to do. And of course, one of the challenges is the fact that when we’re here in Santa Barbara, for example, for the winery dinners on Friday night we’ve got three that are absolutely outstanding.”
Certainly notable in that group (and filling up fast) is a Winemaker Dinner, on Aug. 12, featuring Vintners Fred Brander of The Brander Vineyard and Bob Lindquist of Qupé Wine Cellars in the recently restored Mural Room of the Historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
“That as a destination alone is worth going to, but in the midst of that destination we’re dealing with Brander and Qupé, two of the iconic wineries in Santa Barbara County, and Chef Michael Hutchings, who is not only revered here but also for our dinner at Hearst Castle, he’s been a part of that for decades and he will be part of that again,” says McLaren. “It’s an incredible symbiotic relationship of food and wine. It’s as good as it gets … we’re talking about a venue the construction of which took place in 1929 … the timing is impeccable for us.”
The Hearst Castle Dinner, on Aug. 11, begins with a Champagne Reception featuring Roederer Estate Brut in Magnums, presented by Xavier Barlier, Marketing Director of Maisons Marques & Domaines, followed by five dinner courses, conceived and created by renowned chefs, Christophe Eme and Laurent Quenioux, as well as assisted and presented by the Wine Classic’s Stellar Family of Chefs, including Santa Barbara-area chefs James Sly and Hutchings, matched with fine dinner wines from Heralded Wine Classic Vintners.
Aug. 12 also offers another fabulous Winemaker Dinner locally, featuring Vintners Bion Rice of Sunstone Vineyards & Winery and Artiste Winery and Bryan Babcock of Babcock Vineyards, with fine wines from each, and another fabulous venue: the Channel Cat, the largest luxury sailing catamaran ship in Santa Barbara Harbor.
“Chef Cynthia Miranda is going to be the person who creates the dinner,” says McLaren. “I think that’s going to be an absolutely outstanding dinner as well.”
He continues, “If that weren’t sufficient, the Rare Wine Dinner at the Santa Barbara Club (also on Aug. 12) is beyond description. The wines that are a part of that areas good as they get, and they are rare.” Hosted by McLaren, along with “fellow over-indulgers” Dr. Blake Brown, Don Schliff and John Tilson in the Private Dining Room at the Santa Barbara Club, this very exclusive event includes rare bottles and a meal prepared by Guest Chef Bernat “Bernard” Ibarra and Club Executive Chef Humberto Perez.
The list of incredible food and wine event list goes on and on, barrel tastings, vineyard tours, a dinner at Hearst Castle, education symposiums, the complete list of events can be viewed here. But that’s not all. There’s also important philanthropic component to this event, the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction, which takes place on Aug. 13 at Bella Vista, the extraordinary Pat Nesbitt Polo Estate, in Summerland.
Since its founding in 2004, the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation has conferred grants exceeding $2,500,000 to 125 San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County 501(c)3 nonprofits whose missions are in the Healing, Performing and Studio Arts. For 2016, the Studio Arts Beneficiaries will be the Hearst Preservation Foundation and the Friends of Hearst Castle Foundation that sustains the irreplaceable, historic Hearst Castle artifacts. The Performing Arts Beneficiary will be the newly established Léni Fé Bland Performing Arts Fund, founded by 2016 Wine Classic Patron Honoree Sara Miller McCune of Montecito. The Wine Classic Board of Directors will announce the Healing Arts Beneficiary soon.
Tickets are now on sale for all of these extraordinary events and experiences. I really hope to see some of you there.
Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.
When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”