Many will remember the Rotary Club of Winters’ annual fancy fundraiser, the Rotary Wine & Food Jubilee, and more likely also remember how much they miss it. It had become much-anticipated a signature Winters event, but in 2010, due to declining attendance at the time, Rotary poured its last wine and the Jubilee disappeared into fond memory.
Eight years later, Rotary is bringing the event back in “2.0” fashion — bigger and better than ever before, and refreshed in every way. The date to mark on your calendar is Saturday, May 19, for the inaugural Winters Food & Wine Gala, to be held on the lovely outdoor grounds of the Mertz ranch, nestled along the south side of Putah Creek.
Rotary member Jessica Kilkenny says interest in the former Jubilee started bubbling up recently, with former enthusiasts noting how much they missed it, and asking if there was any chance Rotary might bring it back.
“Rotary’s board of directors is always looking for ways to raise money to support our local scholarships and to put money back into our community so under the direction of our current president, Jack Vickrey, the decision was made to bring it back with a new name,” explains Jessica, adding that she was essentially recruited to help guide the resurrection of the event.
“Jack appointed me as fundraising chair while I was away on vacation, so when I got back I could see that I had my hands full. I thought that it would be a good idea to change the venue from an indoor event to an outdoor affair to totally change the look and feel of the event.”
With fresh energy, a fresh venue and fresh faces pouring into this event, Kilkenny enthusiastically explains what people can expect.
“Each person will be given a logo wine glass for tasting and an opportunity to leisurely stroll through the various food, wine and beer vendors, and have an opportunity to bid on silent auction items.
“Our Food & Wine Gala will offer a unique experience for people to sip the finest wines and savor true culinary experiences surrounded by one of the most pristine areas along Putah Creek. They will be welcome to stroll through the many food and wine booths or take off on their own little hike along the creek with a plate of food and a glass of their favorite wine to admire the wildflowers and marvel at the geese and ducks that abound. This private setting, at the Mertz Ranch, is a rare opportunity to see nature at its best.”
Details for the event are still being firmed up, but Kilkenny says many food and wine vendors are already on board, with more to come. The current list of food participants so far includes the Buckhorn, Putah Creek Café, Ficelle, Preserve, Cattleman’s, Lorenzo’s Town & Country Market, Lester Farms Bakery, Steady Eddy’s, Green River Taproom, Tomat’s, Chuy’s, El Pueblo, Séka Hills (olive oil), Ciarlo Fruit & Nut, Pure Honey and Devils’ Gate Olive Oil.
The participating winery list is the next task on deck, and so far, Berryessa Gap Winery, Séka Hills Olive Mill & Tasting Room and Turkovich Family Wines are on board. Other wineries in the Capay Valley Winery and along the Highway 128 corridor are anticipated to participate as well, and Green River Brewing (to be featured at Green River Taproom) may also be making a debut at this event. Live music is also being planned.
Kilkenny is aiming for the Rotary Food & Wine Gala to become an anticipated annual event, and notes that it’s not all just food and fun — the event is returning for a great cause: raising money for a variety of Rotary Club programs.
“Rotary International’s initiative is to eradicate polio worldwide, however, the vast majority of our funds raised go back into our local community. Our projects vary from year to year and depend on the needs of the community. The scholarships are consistent each year, and we have worked very hard and been proud that we have been able award those to our local students.”
If interest thus far is any indication, Rotary will have a healthy bump in funding to support their community service activities and scholarships.
“We are very excited to present the Winters Food & Wine Gala and frankly, I’m overwhelmed at the support that I am seeing from the restaurants, wineries and our corporate sponsors. John Lorenzo has been an amazing supporter. He is not even a Rotarian, but he has been working so hard with his wine distributors to attract Napa Valley wineries for the event.”
In addition to active support from Lorenzo’s Town & Country Market, the gala’s corporate sponsors so far include Button Transportation, Carbahal & Company, Double M Trucking, First Northern Bank, Russell and Kathy Lester (Dixon Ridge Farms) and Vintage Paving Company.
The May 19 gala will take place from 5-8 p.m. at the Mertz Ranch, 4301 Putah Creek Road. Tickets are $50 per person, and can be purchased from any Winters Rotarian, at First Northern Bank or Pacific Ace Hardware.
For more information about becoming a food or wine vendor, or a corporate sponsor, contact Kilkenny at First Northern Bank, 530-795-6403 or email@example.com.