The Paso Robles 24th Annual Winemakers’ Cookoff, is set for this Saturday, Aug. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Paso Robles Event Center, hosted by the Paso Robles Rotary Club. The annual event’s proceeds go to the club’s scholarship program.
Chairman and co-founder of the Cookoff Vicki Silva said people can expect, “lots of good food, and wine and beer and good music and good people. Good times.”
Started in 1924, the Rotary Club of Paso Robles has been a pillar in the community, supporting nonprofits and youth through various fundraising events. The Winemaker’s Cookoff raises funds specifically for scholarships for Paso Robles High School seniors.
“We give scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Paso Robles, and some are four-year scholarships, some are trade school scholarships,” said Vicki. “We try to cover all of the bases.”
Over 20 years ago, Rotarian Gary Eberle of Eberle Winery had the idea for a cookoff that would be just as fun for wineries as it would for the guests. Vicki loved the idea, and the two went ahead with their plan, raising over $7,000 that first year.
“The whole idea was we wanted to have an event that the wineries could enjoy as well,” said Vicki who feels they have accomplished that goal.
Over the past 23 years, the Winemakers’ Cookoff has raised more than $500,000 for local youth scholarships. Yearly, they awarded nearly $90,000 in high-school senior scholarships from the Rotary Foundation.
While the Cookoff is full of fun, wine, and food, it comes down to being about supporting the kids.
“That’s what it is all about, trying to help kids and the cost of college every little bit helps,” Vicki said.
The Cookoff will feature over 20 local winemakers, live music, and great food. Some vendors you will see there include Ancient Peaks Winery, Cass Winery, Dubost, Eberle Winery, California Coast Beer Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Company, just to name a few.
Ticket sales are limited this year to keep the event personal.
“You can go to all of the wineries and the breweries and taste everything easily,” Vicki said. “Thats why we limit the ticket sales to keep it a smaller crowd and more of a quality experience — just relax and have a good time.”
The nearly three-decade-old event has become a community favorite. But it wouldn’t be a cookoff without a little competition. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite culinary meal provided by the wine and beer vendors. The Cookoff features two food award categories: Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice. Independent judges from the culinary and wine industries select the winners based on food and wine pairings. Event attendees also have a chance to vote for their favorite culinary creations, and some wineries may try to sway their votes with bribes, which is encouraged in a light-hearted manner, of course.
And for a cherry on top, Vicki and the committee are bringing back Madonna Cake to the event.
“We do have people who come just to have a piece of Madonna Inn cake,” she said.
The Rotary Club of Paso Robles is looking forward to bringing friends and family back together this August and have bigger hopes to eventually make over $100,000 in donated scholarships.
Attendees must be 21 years or older to attend the Cookoff, and ticket sales will be limited. Tickets are available for $95 per person or $50 for designated drivers. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information on the Winemakers’ Cookoff, visit winemakerscookoff.com.
About the Rotary Club of Paso Robles
The Rotary Club of Paso Robles was chartered in 1924 and has a long history of “service above self,” the motto of Rotary International. The Club is very active in the community through scholarships for high school students of Paso Robles, sponsorship of the local Boy Scouts of America organization, and raising money for local children’s projects like dictionaries for third-grade students and supplies for local schools. The club also participates in global projects including funding international schools, drinking water projects, and eyeglass projects. For more information about the Rotary Club of Paso Robles, please visit pasoroblesrotary.org.
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