Martina and Joe Kingman win best-dressed couple among other contest winners

PASO ROBLES — The second annual Derby Day Wine Fest at Windfall Farms stirred the creative and whimsical spirit of Paso Robles-area locals. Consider the hat alone: a smoking pink flamingo tucked among giant roses adorned one wide-brimmed hat. A split of Champagne with a glass adorned another hat. Men in flashy jackets accented their attire with bow ties and a few cowboy hats were spotted in the crowd of some 200 attendees.

A fundraiser for Sunrise Rotary, the haberdashery-themed gathering, held at Windfall’s mare and foaling barn, honored the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, which was live-streamed in Windfall’s indoor rotunda that afternoon.

“We’re as good as last year,” commented Steve Baker on the attendance. 


Baker, past two-time president and current secretary of the Rotary Sunrise (so named for its members’ morning meetings), co-chaired the event with Jocelyn Baer. 

Owned by the Limoneira Company, Ventura County’s largest citrus growers, Windfall Farms in Creston has over 400 acres of vineyard planted to Bordeaux and Rhône varieties. The fruit is sold to local wineries such as JUSTIN, Treana, and Chronic Cellars, the company’s general manager, Lee Nesbitt, said. The Rotary Sunrise event is the only fundraiser held at Windfall and sponsored by Limoneira.

Formerly known as the Annual Crab Feed, the event was held between two venues, Centennial Park and Windfall. 

“The cost of all-you-can-eat-crab was becoming prohibitive, so the Derby Day Wine Fest was born,” explained Baker, founder and winemaker of Circle B Vineyards & Cellars.

The pivot from seafood to the equestrian theme has indeed proven successful. 

While the weather turned somewhat cool, the air was festive. Neatly tied haystack bundles provided seating around the central lawn, several guests brought their folding chairs and blankets, enjoying local wines and tri-tip sliders with all the fixins. 

Windfall’s indoor and outdoor horse paddocks served as tasting stations for 30-some participating wineries, with one winery per paddock. There were also cocktails from Distillers of SLO County, a collective of 13 spirit producers. Among them was a dessert-like vodka-laced Cold Brew cocktail rich with heavy cream and maple syrup.

Not only was the attire bold and festive, but there were also creative wines too. At the Dubost Ranch Winery paddock, which won the “best-decorated paddock,” Kate Dubost offered a ravishing white Grenache Noir, distinctly different from its popular sibling Grenache Blanc.

Darren Delmore, representing Tablas Creek Winery (first-time attendee this year), poured a barrel sample of its first release of Lignée de Tablas, a Grenache Blanc sourced from Windfall Farm vineyards. At Four Lanterns, Steve Gleason served the 2018 Kharis, a hedonistic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Tempranillo. And there were impressive Pinot Noirs at Lazarre Wine, Seven Angels Cellars, and Ardnt Cellars.

Offering the 2018 Syrah, Shale Oak’s winemaker Curtis Haskell shared the recent news of his 2020 Syrah winning a perfect 100-point platinum score at the Los Angeles Invitational Wine & Spirits Challenge. 

Lone Madrone, Derby, Jade Moon, Tackitt Family Wines, AllBaer, Caelesta, Deno, CaliPaso, Mystic Hills, Hope Family Wines, Eberle and Wine Boss were among other winery participants.

The afternoon ended with the Best Dressed contest, with Cheryl Armstrong winning in the women’s category and Michael Reedy in men’s, and Martina and Joe Kingman as the best-dressed couple. The winners carried their assortment of wines and spirits. Others, forced by the late afternoon wind cradled their hats in hand.

The final tally of funds raised was not available at the time of printing. For more information on the Derby Day Wine Fest, visit

Gallery Images by Mira Honeycutt