There are many Food and Wine events held worldwide practically year around that feature renowned Chefs, mouthwatering cuisine, and of course, unimaginable wines. There is one event and one man that stands above the rest and its longevity is proof of a classic event.
The Central Coast Wine classic founded by, and watched over by, Archie McLaren, a true modern day renaissance man, is in its 28Th year. Calling the Central Coast Wine Classic a “Food and Wine “event is really not the proper context; it is an event that is about the lifestyle of Food, Wine, Art, Music and Travel.
This one very special event helps generate thousands of dollars for well deserving beneficiaries representing the healing, Studio and Performing Arts.
This classic event is held in the picturesque California Beach town of Avila Beach and celebrates the lifestyle of California’s Central Coast. You really can’t talk about the event with out speaking about Archie McLaren. On a personal note, we have met many amazing people in our journalistic endeavors, but we have never met anyone like Archie. When the Universe came together and created Archie McLaren, the mold was broken, never to have another with such compassion and dedication towards the betterment of community wellness and awareness. When you are around Archie you feel his positive energy flow in every direction, like a sun shining on its solar system.
Archie McLaren is a writer, painter, photographer, musician, radio host, Handball Champion and holds a Juris Doctor of Law and has done post graduate work in Humanities, Literature and International Marketing. His foundation has revenues of over $ 1,000,000 and the Central Coast Wine Classic has been named one of America’s most successful wine auctions.
He and his life partner Clarissa Chappellet, are a team that uses their immense talents and passion for the Arts, Wine and adventure to help others share their passion with synergy and positive energy. When you are around them; you can’t help but feel their kindness and compassion for others.
The Central Coast Wine Classic is held in July of each year and brings thousands to experience the Central Coast Lifestyle. Thursday is the kick off day for the event. Many guests chose to start off the weekend with a Barrel Tasting that featured Yet-to-be-Released wine from a large group of outstanding wineries from all over California.
The Crowned Jewel event of the Weekend is the Invite only Gala Dinner at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. This one event is difficult to describe to someone who has never had the privilege to dine in this most glorious venue.
We mingled and got to know many of the guests on our hour long luxury coach ride from Avila Beach to San Simeon. We waited with much anticipation as we drove up the beautiful California Highway 1 over looking the Pacific Ocean.
Arriving at Hearst Castle just before sunset, guests were graciously handed a sparkling glass of the Roederer Estate L’Ermitage as the Reception and Hors D’ oeuvres commenced around the Castle’s magnificent Neptune Pool . For the guests who choose a brief tour of the Hearst Castle, walking through one could feel as if Mr. Hearst himself would be descending from his office to greet his guests.
Grand and awe-inspiring are the words that come to mind, noting that most of the construction took place in the 20’s and 30’s where only mule teams hauled the precious treasures up the steep mountain. Spectacular is definitely the right word to describe the magnitude and the magnificence of this remote Mansion.
As the Sunset over the ocean, we were treated with breath taking views that only a few have been able to gaze upon. This Gala dinner is the only event of its kind allowed at this historical venue, and the sunset seen from our vantage point long after tourists have left the property, was a momentous occasion that splashed the area with brilliant gold, orange, blue and pink.
The Guests were seated at communal tables and a low buzz of delightful conversation rose to the highest windows of the Castle that was now bathed in a golden bath of color from the setting sun. Chef Michael Hutchings prepared the first course and it was on the way to our tables with Tuxedo adored Sommeliers in close proximity.
Chef Hutching’s Sautéed Santa Barbara Abalone with Butter emulsion sauce, enoki daki mushrooms and dill were a delightful gift from land and sea for our taste buds.
This dish paired nicely with 2000 Au Bon Climat XX Anniversary Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay en Magnum and 2010 Au Bon Climat XXX Anniversary Au Bon Climat & Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay .
The first course was a true food/wine pairing experience and we waited with great anticipation for the second course prepared by Chef Kurt Grasling.
His culinary creation of Seared Monterey Bay Salmon, Miyashita heirloom tomatoes, fennel and red wine could not be more fitting while dining high above the Pacific Ocean. 2007 Hitching Post / Hartley-Ostini Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2008 Wedell Cellars Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir added the proper balance to enliven this course.
Chef James Sly pleased us with his Southern Hospitality Fried Chicken, Wilted iceberg and cress, chilled Beylik Farms ratatouille. His dish paired nicely with 2009 Hearst Ranch Winery Paso Robles Chileano Tempanillo and the lovely 2009 Viader Dare Napa Valley Tempanillo.
The ever pleasant Chef Ian McPhee got everyone’s palates jumping for joy. His succulent Oak Grilled Pork Belly , honey ale glaze, Roasted sweet potato salad with Red Pepper vinaigrette & fennel red cabbage slaw was accented by 2009 Qupe Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Edna Valley Granache en Magnum and big 2009 Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles Estate .
It was now Chef Frank Ostini’s turn to impress the VIP guests under the stars at the Hearst Castle. Ostini’s Fire Roasted Filet Mignon with cherry peppercorn sauce, grilled market vegetable sandwich and creamy polenta.
This mouthwatering dish paired up well will 2008 Babcock Vineyards Santa Ynez Fathom and big boisterous 2007 Still Waters Winery Clone 3 Paso Robles Cuvee’.
After six courses of delicious, classic dishes, Chef Laurent Grangien provided a Chilled White Peach and Strawberries Basil emulsion and basil Chantilly to punctuate this very special event. These six Chefs combined together their culinary artistry to provide the guests at Hearst Castle a night to remember.
The first full day of the Central Coast Wine Classic offered attendees over 12 hours of Educational Symposiums leading into the evening with a choice of two dinners to show off the bounty of the Central Coast of California.
Pinot Noir at 9:30am? Sure why not, when it’s the Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir Symposium. Legendary pioneer winemaker and vineyard owner Jim Clendenen headed up a panel that included other local legends as well.
The “founders” of this area included Brian Babcock, Chuck Carlson and Frank Ostini were joined by the “next generation“of winemakers, Benjamin Silver, Storm Wines, Ojai Vineyards. Having such illustrious winemakers proved for a lively conversation featuring classic Pinot Noirs from the area to a sell out crowd.
This event is exactly what the Central Coast Wine Classic is all about. It provided attendees a chance to meet the winemakers that literally were the first to bring Pinot Noir to the forefront of this very special region and provided guests the opportunity to ask questions, meet the new generation of Winemakers extraordinaire, and sample seven Pinot Noirs that showcased the winemaker’s artistry like paint to canvas.
The Wine Classic’s vision is to create a venue of education, enlightenment, and enjoyment with various seminars on the fine art of winemaking and wines.
This day also included a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Symposium that again featured small boutique Cabernets that show off the best of what the Napa Valley has to offer. Alpha Omega Winery , Brand, Diamond Creek , Herb Lamb , Melka ,Padis , Peter Paul ,Pride ,Rudd and Viader came together to talk about their wines and provide guests a thorough education as they sampled 10 Cabernet Sauvignons from these classic producers.
The activites was not over by any means as day faded into the evening and the sun disappeared on the horizon as the Avila Beach pier lights sparkled above the white sand. Guests could attend a very nice Justin Vineyards & Winery Winemaker Dinner at the lovely Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa in nearby Shell Beach or attend The VIP Outdoor Winery Dinner Dance at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.
Each venue proved to be an excellent way to end the day as well. Very special wines, food and entertainment from San Luis Opispo County, Santa Barbara County and Napa all came together under the stars at the VIP Dinner Dance, as guests danced the night away and mingled from table to table. Everyone enjoyed the supberb cuisine prepared by Chef Megan Loring and the sultry tones of the Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band.
The Central Coast Wine Classic offers so much to its guests. Many times some of the events bring together wines, Chefs and others that make history just by their presence. Saturday brings the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Silent and Live Auction which is the focus of the weekend.
However, prior to the auction, many guests had the opportunity to be a part of history. Arnaud Weyrich , Vice-President of Production Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley presented a Methode Champenoise Symposium .
This was an once-in-a-lifetime Vertical tasting of Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Vintages in Magnums. This historical event started with L’Ermitage Vintage 1994 then moved on to the 1996 Vintage , 1997 Vintage and the 1999 Vintage all of which are no longer available.
The 2000 Vintage and the 2002 Vintage finished off this historical event. Guests left very satisfied knowing that we were now apart of history.
The Auction raises Tens of Thousands of Dollars for the Beneficiaries representing the healing, studio and performing arts. Guest roamed the isles of the silent auction looking for that special wine, Art, or vacation to bid on for these very worthy recipients and then took their seats at their tables as the live auction began.
Guests opened their Auction Catalogs and turned through over 200 pages of incredible items. How about a Safari to India or attending Emeril Lagasee’s New Orleans Carnival du Vin as his VIP guest? With a winning bid you could have Dinner in Washington DC as guests of esteemed Chef Michel Richard or take a fabulous cruise on the Mediterranean or Antarctica.
What ever one could possibly imagine or what may be on one’s bucket list could possibly be found amongst these 200 pages of world class events, dinners, wine and art. The Auction lasts throughout the afternoon as guests bid on 77 LOTS that get the auction attendees into a lively competitive bidding “war”.
Each auction participant could imbibe in wines from all over the area while enjoying the very special lunch prepared by rising star Chef Rick Manson and his culinary team.
The proceeds of this spirited event go to sustain the healing, studio or performing arts of the many non-profits in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Many participants were extremely generous in their bidding and thousands of dollars were raised for these worthy organizations.
The Central Coast Wine Classic did not end with the renowned Auction. Sunday also offered guests two more events to enjoy before they traveled home. For those interested in Red Rhone Varietals, The Paso Robles Red Rhone Symposium was the place to be and featured many of the areas best producers.
As the morning faded, the afternoon brought the Reserve Wine Tasting featuring over 50 wineries, classic central coast cuisine and music from Soul Sauce to close out the 28th Central Coast Wine Classic.
For 28 years Archie McLaren and his foundation have helped countless organizations. The foundation has conferred over $1,883,000 to 91 non-profits just over the last eight years alone. We have said it for years, if there is one event you can attend The Central Coast Wine Classic is the event to attend that encompasses knowledge, enjoyment, and entertainment all the while generating proceeds for many well deserving non-profits.
While attending next year, look for the Renaissance man in the beret, you will never meet anyone like him or the many like-minded organizers, including the team of incredible volunteers, which work tirelessly in producing this world class event. We look forward to The Central Coast Wine Classic as it enters into its 29th year.