Sold! Legendary Wine Auction Moves Into Santa Barbara

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 7/28/16

CCWC founder Archie McLaren
The Central Coast Wine Classic has been one of the most spectacular wine events in the country for more than 30 years.  The charitable focus of this multi-day affair has certainly been a boon for the Central Coast: from 2004 to 2014, it gifted more than $2.5 million to more than 125 non-profit groups throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.  And then there’s the enviable lineup of wine-centric experiences, from auctions to seminars to that legendary feast at Hearst Castle.

Throughout its lifetime, CCWC has drawn wine aficionados mainly to San Luis Obispo, holding its events in coastal towns like Avila Beach and Pismo Beach and raising the lion’s share of its funds for non-profit radio station KCBX.   But the five-day extravaganza moves down the coast this year: many of its best events – including the signature live auction of spectacular wine and lifestyle items – will be held in Santa Barbara.

The Heasrt Castle dinner
“It’s a combination of experience and intuition,” founder Archie McLaren tells me about this decision to bring his event south.  “We have always had a huge number of supporters from Santa Barbara, and this seemed like an appropriate time to expand.”

McLaren’s accomplishments have always been built on his relationships.  The camaraderie of this well-known bon vivant with some of the great winemakers of the Central Coast helps explain the success of CCWC for decades, as well as the success of the highly regarded WOPN event, or World of Pinot Noir, which he founded with vintner Brian Talley in 2000.  The fact he’s now spending more time at home in Santa Barbara helped pivot the spotlight of CCWC toward a town where people are “increasingly sophisticated, ” according to McLaren, and where they are “more and more interested these days in the symbiotic relationship between fine wine and fine cuisine.”

The 2016 Central Coast Wine Classic will run August 10-14.  The experiences begin up north on Wednesday, with a barrel tasting and auction at San Luis Obispo’s Greengate Ranch followed by a pair of wine dinner options.  Thursday afternoon will see the option of a vineyard tour and luncheon at legendary Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles ($75) or a Bordeaux seminar and lunch at nearby Eberle Vineyard ($115).  That evening beings the spectacular Dinner at Hearst Castle ($1250), where only the historic luxury setting rivals the world-class wine and gourmet food prepped by a bevy of local chefs, including James Sly of Sly’s Restaurant in Carpinteria, James Siao of Finch & Fork at Santa Barbara’s Canary Hotel and private chef Michael Hutchings.

Chef James Sly
On Friday, a tour and tasting event of Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande properties ($75) includes breakfast and visits to vineyards like Saucelito Canyon, Talley and Tolosa.

And then the events cross the county line.

Friday afternoon, iconic vintner Richard Sanford will host a tour of his Alma Rosa Winery in Santa Barbara County’s Sta. Rita Hills, along with tastings and lunch ($75).  Later, a chardonnay and pinot noir seminar at the Santa Barbara Wine Collective in the downtown Funk Zone ($75) will feature wines by Babcock and Fess Parker while a pinot noir symposium at the newly-renovated Santa Barbara Inn on the waterfront ($75) will showcase wines by Au Bon Climat and Longoria, among others.  That evening, there will be three dinners to choose from: a Rare Wine Dinner with exclusive French wines at the Santa Barbara Club ($750), a Winemaker Dinner aboard the Channel Cat catamaran in the Santa Barbara Harbor ($150) and a special feast in the stunning Mural Room of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse ($150), with wines from Fred Brander and QupĂ©’s Bob Lindquist.

Double-fisted bidding is encouraged
Saturday will see a morning cabernet sauvignon seminar ($95) and Champagne-and-caviar symposium ($95).  But the climax of CCWC may well be the Saturday afternoon Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction and Luncheon ($175), held this year at real estate tycoon Pat Nesbitt’s sprawling Bella Vista Ranch in Summerland.  The 70-acre ocean view estate is a draw all its own, complete with polo field and butterfly garden.  But the oohs-and-aahs are most likely to come from the dozens of spectacular lifestyle lots, including a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, a five-star trip for two through France – Paris, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone and Champagne – and luxury excursions to China and Bhutan.  There are several deluxe dinner experiences up for grabs, as well as original artwork by several high-profile Central Coast artists.  And a slew of local winemakers have donated one-of-a-kind salmanazars of wine – huge nine-liter bottles that are the equivalent of 12 regular bottles.  The event will also feature an exotic car showcase and cuisine by Chefs Frank Ostini (of Hitching Post II fame) and Rick Manson.

For a peek at all 52 live auction lots in the Central Coast Wine Classic auction, click here.

CCWC ends Sunday with an Australian wine roundtable at the Santa Barbara Inn ($75) and a VIP Departure Brunch at Stella Mare’s Restaurant ($95).

This is a spectacle to be sure: 18 events, spread across two counties, and featuring world class wine and food served up by a veritable who’s who of the culinary world in one stunning location after the other.  Most events are close to being sold out.  For more information, check out www.centralcoastwineclassic.com.



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