The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation (SBVF) surpassed its record-setting $1 million dollar goal to support the work of medical aid organization Direct Relief at the ninth biennial Santa Barbara Wine Auction held March 12, 2016 at the Bacara Resort & Spa.
Chris Harrison, host of ABC’s hit reality show “The Bachelor,” emceed this sold out celebrity-filled evening. Guest chef, Michael Mina, a James Beard Award winning chef, crafted an exquisite three-course dinner that was complimented by reserve wine tastings from more than 40 of Santa Barbara County’s most celebrated vintners.
In a brief award ceremony, the SBVF honored Sanford & Benedict Vineyard co-founders, Richard and Thekla Sanford and Michael Benedict with the Pioneer Award, as well as Bob and Louisa Lindquist as Vintners of the Year.
“Because of their extraordinary efficiency, Direct Relief will be able take the money we raised on Saturday and leverage that into more than $30 million in medical aid provided around the world and right here in Santa Barbara County,” says Vintners Foundation president, Jenny Williamson Doré of Foxen Vineyard and Winery. “We are honored to be a partner with this amazing organization that is headquartered in Santa Barbara County.”
Since 2000, the Santa Barbara Vintners have raised more than $4 million dollars for Direct Relief, which translates into over $100 million in medical aid.
Direct Relief USA is an important part of the organization’s efforts to strengthen America’s healthcare safety net by providing nonprofit community clinics and health centers with medicines and medical supplies for their low-income and uninsured patients.
With support from Direct Relief, aid organization Last Mile Health (known in Liberia as Tiyatien Health) trained 10 Frontline Health Workers (FHW) in the last year to identify, treat, and refer children with symptoms of pneumonia – the number one cause of death of children under five worldwide.
Direct Relief USA provides Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers with ruggedized, specially designed backpacks filled with medical supplies to help address community health needs in an emergency. The packs enable MRC members to respond when disaster strikes.
Direct Relief has equipped midwives, supported programs of obstetric fistula repair, increased access to cervical cancer screening, and has provided general medical aid in support of children’s health programs.
Chris Harrison began his television career by covering local sports in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Dallas, Texas native went to Oklahoma City University on a soccer scholarship, and then made the natural transition to sportscasting with a local station. During his six years there, he worked his way up the ranks from part-time sportscaster to weekend sportscaster. He also had the opportunity to cover hard news stories, including the 1995 tragedy at the Federal Building, an event which profoundly affected his perspective on life and career.
A visit to L.A. in 1999 for an audition for a horseracing network led to a permanent move. Later that year, Harrison landed the job as host of HGTV’s Designer’s Challenge, which was consistently one of the network’s highest rated shows. In 2001, he became host of ABC’s hit romance/reality series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. He also has hosted ABC’s popular reality show, Bachelor Pad, the “all-star” reunion from previous seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the last two years.
Harrison continues to advance in the entertainment industry through a variety of professional endeavors. He was just named as the new host of the nationally syndicated game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He has joined the popular long-running franchise beginning with its 14th season the fall of 2015, while remaining the host of the Bachelor franchise. Harrison co-hosted ABC’s live coverage of The Miss America Pageant for the past four years, and first hosted the iconic broadcast on ABC in 2004. Additional hosting credits include Emmys Red Carpet Live at the 2012 Primetime Emmys; ABC’s 2011 American Music Awards Red Carpet; live television coverage of the final championship rounds of The 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee on ABC; ABC’s 2008 American Music Awards Red Carpet Live!, and Road to the 60th Primetime Emmy® Awards, ABC.com’s daily coverage leading up to the 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards.
In a departure from his many broadcast endeavors, Harrison is turning to the written page, as he pens his first book — an emotional, passionate and suspenseful novel entitled The Perfect Letter. The romantic novel, published by Harper Collins, will be out on May 19.
The versatile Harrison has done his fair share of acting as well, with roles in the popular television series Alias, The Practice, Six Feet Under and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. His feature film appearances include Bounce, Showtime and portraying himself in the comedy Date Movie.
In his spare time Harrison still plays soccer and has become addicted to golf. He has developed a great appreciation for the weather and lifestyle of Southern California, and spends as much time as possible outdoors with 13-year-old son, Joshua, and 11-year-old daughter, Taylor.
I started in the kitchen when I was very young, and I am still as intrigued with the process as I was when I was a 15-year-old Garde Manger in a small French restaurant in my Hometown.
In 1991 at the age of 22 I was given the opportunity of a lifetime – help design an upscale seafood restaurant in San Francisco from scratch – and I threw myself into the project heart and soul. It became AQUA and opened to rave reviews in a town known for great cuisine.
Now here it is, 20+ years and many restaurants later. I reimagined AQUA and completely restored it to create Michael Mina. Since then, I’ve opened more than 25 destination restaurants, hired world-class executive chefs and the best teams you can find. With their help, I am honored to say, my restaurants have achieved a success that has put MINA Group ahead of its class.
You could say that the key ingredient to this accomplishment is an unwavering passion for food combined with a commitment to phenomenal service for our guests.
The Wine Auction’s star auctioneer, “Gavel Girl” DawnMarie Kotsonis, originally hails from Brooklyn, NY, but now calls Southern California home. Her career in fundraising began in the 1980’s while she was running a successful commercial auction firm and was sparked by the very personal experience of raising funds in support of Cystic Fibrosis – the disease that claimed the lives of both her nephew and her best friend.”
With nearly 30 years of auction and fund development experience, DawnMarie has presided over countless record-breaking auctions including Wine Spectator Top-10 charity events. DawnMarie’s high energy and fun approach to an auction makes her equal part entertainer and fundraiser. She feels that the key to a successful benefit auction is “To make it fast, make it fun and leave everyone feeling great for having raised a lot of money for a great cause!”
DawnMarie was the auctioneer at the 2014 Santa Barbara Wine Auction, and was excited to participate again in the 2016 auction in support of the amazing work done throughout the world by Direct Relief. A true believer in the mantra “no margin … no mission,” DawnMarie applauds Direct Relief’s incredible success in turning every dollar raised into approximately a $35 return on their supporter’s contributions.
We are happy to announce the 2016 “Vintner of the Year Award” went to Louisa and Bob Lindquist of Qupé and the “Pioneer Award” went to Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’s founders Richard and Thekla Sanford and Michael Benedict.
Louisa and Bob Lindquist of Qupé
Louisa Sawyer Lindquist is the inspiration behind Verdad. In the late 80s, while working at a retail store on Long Island, Louisa became enamored with the beauty and finesse of Spanish Albariño. She studied the different producers and styles and realized that Albariño is a remarkable wine both as an aperitif and as a great food wine. Soon Louisa was exploring other Spanish wines, and found that Tempranillo held the same allure for her. When she began working for a fine wine importer & distributor in New York, she had the opportunity to work with the Classical Wines of Spain portfolio and expanded her knowledge.
Louisa spent the early 80s studying and working in the vineyards of Long Island. Her background in viticulture served her well when she moved to California and began working with wineries and their vineyards. She was amazed at the similarities between the Spanish wine country and California, and was surprised to find that there was very little Albariño or Tempranillo planted. About the same time, Louisa began dating Bob Lindquist, the owner/winemaker of Qupé Wine Cellars, and introduced him to the beauties of Spanish wines. In time they began planting small blocks of the two grape varietals at the Ibarra-Young Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley on the Central Coast of California, experimenting with clones and organic growing techniques.
As the plantings at Ibarra-Young matured and began to produce fruit, Louisa went to Spain to work harvest. She traveled to the primary grape growing regions to understand how the top producers worked with the fruit in both the vineyards and the winery. As she talked with the people across the country, she noticed that one of the favorite expressions, repeated on a regular basis was “es la verdad” (that’s the truth). That became her inspiration to naming the fledgling brand.
Today Verdad Wine Cellars produces Spanish varietal wines from organic and biodynamic grapes. The grapes and resulting wines are minimally handled to reflect the true character of the grape and the unique flavors of these beautiful vineyards. The wines are produced at Qupé under Bob’s direction.
Louisa and Bob are now married and have a son, Theo. They live in San Luis Obispo where they purchased property in Edna Valley and planted it to Rhône and Spanish varieties. Named Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, it was planted in 2005 and farmed using biodynamic and organic cultivation. In 2009 the vineyard was Demeter certified biodynamic and Stellar certified organic.
Mention Syrah and the name Qupé will soon come up. An original Rhône Ranger, veteran winemaker Bob Lindquist was one of the first to advocate American-made Syrah and other Rhône varietals such as Grenache, Roussanne, and Marsanne. He has been a leader in the movement producing world class editions since the early 1980s. His passion for wine is only equaled by his passion for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bob’s first wine encounter was as a U.C. Irvine student in the early 1970s, where he sipped quality wine for the first time and instantly was hooked. He began frequenting Hi-Time Cellars, a well-stocked wine shop in Costa Mesa, asking lots of vinicultural questions. In 1975, Bob moved north to pursue a career in the wine business. His first job found him working harvest at Fortino Winery, near Gilroy. From there he went up the ranks at San Martin Winery, and seized the opportunity to manage their new Ventura County tasting room in 1976. While working there, Bob decided his destiny lay in the wine country of Santa Barbara County.
On New Year’s Day, 1979, Bob moved to the Santa Ynez Valley to manage an innovative wine shop in the little town of Los Olivos. The shop’s proprietor was the son of Marshall Ream, who co-owned the nearby Zaca Mesa Winery. Through this connection, Bob became friends with Jim Clendenen, Zaca Mesa’s assistant winemaker at the time.
Indulging his obsession for rock-and-roll, Bob bought tickets to a late summer Kink’s concert. After his boss abruptly fired Bob for attending the show, Jim Clendenen stepped in and got Bob a position as Zaca Mesa Winery’s first tour guide. Tourists were few and far between in 1979, so Bob spent most of his time in the cellar, learning to make wine under Jim’s tutelage.
Bob struck out on his own in 1982 and founded Qupé (which means “poppy” in Chumash), renting space in other area wineries to make his wine. As production grew, Bob focused his efforts on Syrah and other Rhône varieties, but continued to craft ever-popular Chardonnay, which helped to pay the bills.
In 1989, Bob joined his old friend Jim Clendenen (who founded Au Bon Climat in 1982) to build a winery of their own under a lease agreement with Bien Nacido Vineyards. To this day, the two continue to produce their wines at the elegant facility, located on the Santa Maria Mesa.
Bob and Jim have mentored dozens of winemakers over the years including Bob’s wife, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist. With Louisa as winemaker, Bob partnered in a second winery, Verdad (the Spanish word for “truth”), which specializes in Spanish varieties. To take their wines to the next level, Bob and Louisa purchased an 80-acre ranch in the Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County in 2002. The couple installed the 40-acre Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, which is planted to Pinot Noir, Marsanne, Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Albariño, and is certifiably farmed according to strict Demeter biodynamic standards. Resulting wines consistently hit the 90 point plus wine review scale.
In October 2013, controlling interest in Qupé was acquired by investor Charles Banks. Charles’ investments include such notable wineries such as Mayacamas and Sandhi. Bob Lindquist is now a partner and remains the winemaker. “It’s nice to have a financial partner who shares our vision. Charles is such a wine geek. He’s a perfect fit. And he’s local,” states Bob. “This partnership allows me to focus on the vineyards and winemaking.”
Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’s founders Richard and Thekla Sanford
There is a bottle of the 1976 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir displayed in the Vintner’s Hall of Fame in the wine museum at the Greystone Cellars in the Napa Valley which recognizes the pioneering legacy of that wine. The label on the bottle reads, “Grown, Produced and Bottled at our vineyard in the Coastal Hills of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County by SANFORD & BENEDICT, Winegrowers at Lompoc California”. That describes the location of the first vineyard in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills Appellation.
Just 24 miles from the sea, the vineyard is planted on an ancient landslide. The soils are derived from the Monterey Formation, a miocene sedimentary sea floor deposit. The deep well drained soils have an abundance of siliceous angular flint-like chert which promotes good drainage. The cool, on-shore maritime winds create an ideal climate for premium winegrapes.
“Living here and physically working the land here has been important in my own personal, spiritual development,” says Richard Sanford. “As I reflect on the vineyard, I believe my favorite remembrances were as Mary Oliver says ‘married to amazement’ as I went about my daily activities nurturing my young vines through the five years of growth before fruition. I can still identify with the smells of the earth and green grass as my plow slipped through the moist earth. I can still feel the warmth of the manifold on my legs in the crisp morning air as on my d-4 caterpillar tractor, I trundled up and down the rows, nurturing each of my 61,400 grapevines. The slightly acrid smell of a wisp of diesel smoke from the tractor mixed with the organic smells are indelible in my memory bank.”
Thekla met Richard in time for the first vintage produced in the converted barn of the bean farm. The inspiration was simple burgundy style winemaking, squat open- top wooden fermenters and oak barrel aging. The farm never had electricity so working and living were by gaslight. “Thekla and I were married here. It has been our honor to be stewards of this land.” This year Richard and Thekla celebrate 40 vintages together.
Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’s Founder Michael Benedict
Michael Benedict began his career as a research botanist directly after completing his studies in mathematics and botany at UC Santa Barbara. In 1966 he was appointed by UCSB Chancellor Vernon Cheadle to the UCSB faculty as a Research Specialist and was selected to serve as the first Resident Manager of the Channel Islands Field Station on Santa Cruz Island (now the UC Santa Cruz Island Reserve) . He followed his tenure there with almost three decades of service as a Research Associate with the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.
In 1970 Michael and Richard Sanford made an offer to lease the land that became the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard with an option to buy in five years. The deal was consummated and in 1971 they planted their vines on their own roots. In 1975, they made their first wine, a barrel of Pinot Noir and a barrel of Chardonnay. It was that vintage that gave them the confidence to move forward and buy the vineyard. In 1976 Sanford and Benedict made their first commercial offerings, the 1976 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir was released in 1978 and received unusually high acclaim – the first cold-weather Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara that set the stage for the appellation we now know as the Santa Rita Hills.
From 1970 until 1990, Michael continuously operated Sanford & Benedict, growing the grapes, selling off most of the production and making a small amount of wine. In 1990 he retired to dedicate himself to his family, continue his research, and focus on working with non-profits organizations.
Since 1990, Michael has continued his research, conducting many botanical explorations of the Mexican islands of the California Archipelago, researching the historical vineyards and wine enterprise on Santa Cruz Island, climate and soil analyses with respect to winegrowing on the island, and has expanded his research activities to the Central California mainland.
Michael has helped to start a number of non-profit organizations (the Santa Rosa-San Julian Wildlife Refuge, the Santa Ynez Valley Winegrowers Association, the Santa Ynez Valley Land Trust, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County) and has served as a trustee for the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara, and the Coastal Ranches Conservancy.
He is currently advising the development of four jewel-like winegrowing enterprises in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Panzumo, based in Santa Barbara, California, was formed in 1998 by Budhi Harlow, and has performed all over Southern California since inception. Steeped in djembe drum and dance, Panzumo creates an uplifting and transformational experience for all. Their live performances are unforgettable, and they are known for their collaborations with classical and jazz musicians, and dancers and drummers from other world traditions.
Budhi Harlow is a musician, composer, drum teacher, and dynamic performer. He has produced 6 albums all based on or inspired by West African Rhythms. He has been sharing his passion for music and dance to children and adults for over 14 years. Budhi has studied drum and dance all over the world; primarily in Senegal, where he lived on and off for 9 years.
Gregg & Madelyn Foster
Gerry & Bobbie Rubin
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Patricia Aoyama &
Mark Linehan & Kimberly Schizas
Mark & Lynda Schwartz
Siri & Bob Marshall
Larry Dam & Betsy Jones
Belle & Daniel Cohen
Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing
Roxanna & Randy Solakian and Deanne & Brett Williams
Jorian Hill Vineyards
Au Bon Climat
Angel & Lisa Iscovich and
The Iscovich Foundation
Peter & Holly Krug
Tom & Carrie Cusack
The Gardner, Hudnut, Jannotta, & Schlosser Families
Garland & Brenda Reiter
South Coast Emergency Medical Group
The following wineries from the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association hosted a table at the 2016 Santa Barbara Wine Auction.
In 2016 the silent auction featured many priceless experiences in food, wine, travel, and leisure which were each auctioned off to the highest bidder to benefit Direct Relief.
The live auction featured once-in-a-lifetime experiences including: the “Honoree’s Lot” comprised of a two-night stay, lunches and dinners for four at Mayacamas Vineyards hosted by Bob Lindquist of Qupé; A Vineyard-to-Table Anniversary Celebration commemorating 40 years of Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and 30 years of Hitching Post II; Dinner for 50 by Chef Michael Mina and hosted at vintner Jim Clendenen’s Rancho La Cuna, and A Day of Simpatico wine blending, lunch and dinner hosted by Foxen and Melville wineries and Wine Cask Restaurant.
To view the incredible selection of auction packages from 2016 please click on the links below.
The Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation and Direct Relief would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the 2016 donors who helped us raise over a million dollars.
In 2016 guests were invited to spend the weekend at the award-winning Bacara Resort & Spa. The resort is nestled on the bluff and beaches of the Gaviota coast between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains, offering relaxed luxury and breathtaking views for an unforgettable getaway in Santa Barbara.
To request more information, or to join the 2018 Event Steering Committee, please contact Jen Jones.