Nearly three decades of wine and laughter

Guests enjoy wine and sunshine at the annual Vintage Alpine fundraiser

What started 29 years ago with four tables and a handful of people serving wine now includes three breweries, 15 restaurants, over 15,000 canopied feet of space, 1,500 feet of open grass, and— of course— bottle after bottle of wine.

Vintage Alpine is one of the few Kiwanis events that is not direct­ed toward a specific goal; proceeds go toward the service account that supports children’s activities and events throughout the year in Alpine, such as Boy Scouts’ Troop 105 , girls’ softball, and individual projects with local schools.

According to Richard Higgins, past Kiwanis president and cur­rent board member, planning for the event begins each June, takes the entire year and ultimately includes approximately 100 vol­unteers with about 140 Kiwanis members filling hundreds of vol­unteer slots for the event itself.

Held at Summers Past Farms, a certified wildlife habitat with extensive gardens known in East County for seasonal outdoor events, the venue offset the cost of the event by donating space and providing help with layout to accommodate the roughly 600 at­tendees.

Higgins emphasized that this event comes to life through dona­tions and sponsorships.

“We try to get everything we can for cheap or nothing. Viejas is our signature sponsor; we also have other sponsors for items like plates and napkins. Everyone vol­unteers their time… We also don’t charge the wineries, which is dif­ferent from some other wine tast­ings— we feel that they’re giving their wines away free for tasting and that’s enough,” Higgins said.

Linda McWilliams from San Pasqual Winery who passed out glass after glass of wine on Sunday described the event as inherently educational.

“It’s a great event; we’re an urban winery located in downtown La Mesa and we like to show people that they don’t have to go too far for good wine,” McWilliams said.

Manning the booth dedicated entirely to education was Ste­phen Kahle, owner of the Woof-n-Rose Winery that his son Eh­ren Kahle was covering across the aisle. The younger Kahle related the story of how his fam­ily started with one grapevine on a whim.

The elder Kahle later chimed in and explained that in 1994 he’d planted some grapes just to see if they would grow.

“We really didn’t know what to do so we just started planting more; eventually we felt like we needed to become a winery and it all grew from there,” Stephen Kahle said.

Kahle now brings down infor­mation for an educational booth each year with information about the wine industry in San Diego county including listings for member wineries and wine appreciation information.

The team from 4twenty4 Winery said that they go through cases of wine at the event, but that they share just as many beer tastings. While Bon­nie Smith poured samplings of wine, award-winning Dan Smith explained the difference be­tween his ales and why an IPA has a very different flavor pro­file than a California brew.

Higgins described looking at photo albums from past years and noticing that everyone is smiling, from the volunteers to the patrons.

Lisa Watson, glass of wine in hand, laughed with friends re­flected over the day’s events.

“Today is fantastic— the per­fect weather, perfect company, and perfect opportunity to serve children,” she said.

Mac McWilliams, the self-pro­claimed “75-year old gofer” with Kiwanis said that in 28 years of having some of the same vendors in attendance, this was the most organized that he has ever seen the event, declaring it a successful fundraiser and a beautiful day.

Nearly three decades of wine and laughter

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