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Kiwanis Club readies for 8th annual wine tasting

An event for epicureans features silent and live auctions, benefits foundation.

September 15, 2010|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Chairman Clyde Hemphill, from left, Kiwanis Club President Nick Berkuta, Noir Restaurant Chef Claud Beltran, Chairman Mary Gant and Le Petit Store Manager Lynn Tran are involved in La Cañada Flintridge Wine & Gourmet Food Tasting, which will take part on Sept. 26, 2010 at the Memorial Park in La Cañada Flintridge.
Chairman Clyde Hemphill, from left, Kiwanis Club President… (Cheryl A. Guerrero,…)

Pinot noirs, cabernets, merlots — wine enthusiasts will have their choice Sunday, Sept. 26 at the 8th annual La Cañada Flintridge Wine and Gourmet Food Tasting event at Memorial Park.

Launched in 2002 as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club, the tasting has expanded with four additional partners, including the Educational Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, The Verdugo Hills Hospital Foundation and the wine and spirits shop, Le Petit Vendome. Last year, attendance and revenue exploded, said Mary Gant, a member of the Kiwanis Club and one of the founders of the event.

"Our first year attendance was probably a couple hundred at the most," Gant said. "And our income was $6,000. Since then, we have added a silent auction and we have partnered with Vendome. Now this is our major fundraiser. We now have about 800 people. And it is over $20,000 we bring in to help run our foundation."

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Tickets can be purchased in advance on the Educational Foundation website, http://www.lcfef.org, for $50, or at the door for $60, said Cory Stevens, publicity chair. Upon arrival, attendees will be handed a wine glass and an appetizer plate. From 3 to 6 p.m., guests are free to sample wine, beer and appetizers from local restaurants and merchants.

"Last year we poured about 80 wines and 20 different beers," Stevens said. "And everything is included in the cost of the ticket."

Attendees are also invited to participate in the Kiwanis Club silent auction, which includes gift items and services, many donated by local families and businesses.

Starting at 6 p.m., the Educational Foundation hosts a live auction of high-end, premium wines and wine-related vacations, said Lindsay McGregor, executive director of the Educational Foundation. The foundation became involved in the tasting five years ago, McGregor said, and last year raised about $40,000 at the event.

"The Kiwanis were looking for a way to reach out to a larger portion of the community," McGregor said. "It was good partnership that could bring some of the younger demographic [to the event]."

The tasting has blossomed into one of the most successful fundraisers, and one of the most entertaining social events, of the year, Gant said.

"My personal opinion is it is the most fun you will have in an afternoon for $50," Gant said. "For $50 you have an adult event where you can go and you get to socialize with your friends, you get to sample the restaurants and caterers in the area, and you also get to sample wines."

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