ATASCADERO — The Annual Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival was held June 22 under the new moniker, “Central Coast Reserve at Atascadero,” with 72 vendors including representatives from more than 40 area wineries.
Organizers announced their planned changes in April, to give locals and visitors looking for tickets a head’s up. But as long as folks saved the date, there were still wristbands available at the gate regardless of what the festivities were called.
The website for the event — www.centralcoastreserve.com — showcased the spread of family-friendly aspect through the weekend while a monochrome version of their new brown, gold and white logo, “designed to evoke wine, beer and spirits,” was emblazoned on commemorative glasses.
Activities June 22 started off low key with the traditional Golf Tournament put on by the Atascadero Optimists Club at Chalk Mountain but the real drinking started the night before with the Winemaker’s Dinner. That’s two representatives each from 30 area wineries holding court with favorite vintages over dinner at the Pavilion, with enough room for six paying guests at each table.
The Kiwanis Clubs’ Mark Dariz notes that all it takes is a little back of the envelope math to see quite the contribution for local charities, and that’s before adding in proceeds from the silent auction.
In 2018 approximately $90,000 was raised. They hadn’t gotten final figures in on Monday morning after the Reserve tide swept through town, but Dariz said, it was a model event for what Atascadero’s social service clubs are capable of when they work for mutual causes. This year Kiwanis set the goal of raising $10,000 each for the El Camino Homeless Organization, parents for Joy, Friends of the Charles Paddock Zoo, the North County chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, and the Tolosa children’s dentistry charity.
In 1995 the Wine Festival started out as a fundraiser for the Charles Paddock Zoo, and, as festival organizing committee member Barbie Butz explained in announcing the event this year, it wasn’t a sure bet getting the original seed funds from the Zoo Society Board. As it turned out they raised far more than the $5,000 needed to kickstart the first year and have been rotating the fundraising element with different charities ever since.
The Zoo, and their stable of education program animals, still play a big role in the main festival, with vintners, brewers and craft artisans spreading the event through their walking paths Saturday. For the first year guests got to sip their preferred beverages while visiting the Zoo’s recently opened Red Panda exhibit.
As the festival was spread through the Zoo and Lakeside Park both, visitors also got a pick of music to enjoy with The Paisanos Band playing on the main stage near the Central Coast Brewery’ mobile bar and Azure Tres inside the Zoo.