WineClassicLogo-2016-date-hiOne of the Central Coast’s most enduring wine events and a major fundraiser for several nonprofits in two counties will this year expand into Santa Barbara County when it opens Wednesday, Aug. 10.

The Central Coast Wine Classic, now in its 31st year, comprises 18 events over the course of five days. Among those events are barrel tastings, live and silent auctions, symposiums, dinners, lunches and special tours and wine tastings.

One of most popular events is the Thursday dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. That event is $1,250 per person.

The Wine Classic opens Aug. 10 with a barrel tasting of an array of California wineries from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Greengate Ranch & Vineyard in the Edna Valley, and culminates with a sold-out VIP Champagne Louis Roederer & Black Caviar Brunch in Santa Barbara at Stella Mare’s.

The dinner at San Simeon' Hearst Castle is one of the most popular CCWC events

As of last week, at least seven of the 19 events had already sold out, including the final brunch, all of the Friday evening dinners and the Edna Valley tour, also on Friday, said a CCWC organizer.

Archie McLaren is the founder of chairman of CCWC, and relocated almost two years ago to downtown Santa Barbara after residing in San Luis Obispo County for decades.

His employees say he holds the history of the CCWC in his head.

“I’m trying to be an extension of Archie’s brain” when it comes to organizing the multiday event, said Beverly Aho, one of McLaren’s employees since 2006 and a resident of Avila Beach.

Her colleague Robin Bort, who resides in Reno, calls McLaren “such a pleasure to work with. He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and is very kind and generous.”

Aho and Bord both volunteered for CCWC (Bort for 20 years and Aho for 10) before McLaren hired them to assist him with event organization and production. While they’ve been colleagues for more than a decade and work closely via e-mail and phone, the two women have “never met” in person, Aho chuckled.

Bort, her husband and a group of others teamed to found the annual Live Oak Festival that takes place in June at Live Oak Camp along the Santa Ynez River, she said. The Live Oak Festival continues to benefit KCBX to this day.

Bort is a graphic designer who just completed her 31st version of the annual catalog that showcases the live auction items available during the event.

There are 52 lots in the current catalog, viewable here at http://www.centralcoastwineclassic.org/live-auction.php

The lots are “a mix of lifestyle items and wine and are very unique,” Bort told me.

The Wine Classic caters to guests “from all over the world” who help fund Central Coast nonprofits with their auction purchases, Aho said.

She and McLaren personally speak to every potential guest interested in event attendance, she said, adding that organizers strive to offer “personalized assistance” to help guests decide which event is best suited to their tastes.

The centralcoastwineclassic.org website clearly states: “We do not offer online registration. You are more than a computerized payment to us. You are a valued guest!”

Guests will be transported to, from and between events via a fleet of buses, Aho said. (“Our bus schedule is crazy!”)

To reach Aho for tickets or additional information, call her at (805) 235-8130, or inquire via e-mail at sylphie333@yahoo.com.

While in its early days the CCWC was a fundraiser solely for KCBX-Central Coast Public Radio, more recently it has boosted the coffers of multiple nonprofit organizations in both counties.

Since 2004 when the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation was created, CCWC has raised a whopping $2.5 million for 125 organizations that focus on studio arts, performing arts and healing arts, according to a news release.

Among the beneficiaries for 2016 are the Hearst Preservation and the Friends of Hearst Castle Foundation, the Léni Fé Bland Performing Arts Fund and the Boys & Girls Club of Northern San Luis Obispo.

Among the highlights of the 2014 live auction lots: 60 bottles of fine French red Burgundy that sold for $35,000; a 2014 harvest dinner for 24 people that was presented by Au Bon Climat and the Buellton Hitching Post restaurant, $24,000; a wine and culinary tour of French wine country for two people, $20,000; a dinner with McLaren and baseball legend Tim McCarver and a dozen bottles of rare wine, all the 1984 vintage, for $20,000; and a gourmet food & wine cruise for two from Singapore to Hong Kong for $15,000, according to publicist Maureen McFadden, handling media for McLaren for the fist time this year.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for www.centralcoastwinepress.com