The Valley Line

So how do all the Turkey Day leftovers taste? Tired of them yet? I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Once again I made my way up to Livermore for our traditional gathering of family and friends at my son’s home. The day after the big feast, the leftover celebrants visited several wineries to taste some great wines.

For those of you that thought that Napa, Santa Inez Valley and the Paso Robles areas were about the only premier wine growing areas in California – don’t discount the Livermore Valley. A wine renaissance is going on thereand you will be pleasantly surprised and delighted with the many fines wines that are being offered.

It is one of California’s oldest wine regions and it played a pivotal role in shaping California’s wine industry. Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in 1840. The valley received world-wide recognition when it captured America’s first international gold medal for wine in 1889 at the Paris Exposition, putting California on the world wine map.

This beautiful vine-studded valley had more than 50 wineries until Prohibition when most of the wineries were shut down with a just a few remaining open to make sacrament wine only.

Today, new winemakers and vineyardists are working alongside fifth generation winegrowers to create the rebirth of the wine industry in Livermore, 30 miles east of San Francisco. There are more than 38 wineries with more about to open. The wineries vary in size from limited release 100-case labors of love to 400,000 case industry leaders.

Livermore Valley wineries were the first to bottle varietals labeled Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah. Nearly 80 percent of California’s Chardonnay vines trace their genetic roots to a Livermore Valley clone. The grapes grown thererange from familiar Merlot and Chardonnay to Italian, Rhone and Spanish varieties.

We had a lovely afternoon of wine tasting and even brought along a picnic lunch (turkey sandwiches). One of the wineries had an invitinggrassy picnic area that overlooked the vineyard with the vines ablaze with beautiful autumn color.

Do think “Livermore” the next time you want to go wine tasting.

It was an enthusiastic group of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy supporters and alumni who met at San Gabriel Country Club for the school’s recent 33rd annual golf tournament.

More than $90,000 was raised to benefit the school’s Harry G. Johansing Scholarship Fund during the golf play, a dinner and silent and live auctions.

Especially pleased about the successful event was Sister Carolyn McCormack, president of the Catholic all girls’ school.

“People were very generous in our tournament challenge to raise money for our scholarships,” said Sister Carolyn.

Optimist Youth Homes & Family Services (OYHFS) had a made-for-movies evening at the Globe Theatre in Universal Studios, where its annual Mentor Awards Gala raised more than $230,000 to help fund the 101-year old agency’s services for abused and neglected children and adolescent offenders on probation from around California.

The event honored Michaela Pereira, co-host of the popular “KTLA Morning Show,” and Ara Zenobians, AIA, a partner in the prominent Pasadena architectural firm of Flewelling & Moody, and designer of the home’s new youth learning center.

Pereira, who was adopted as a child in Canada, gave an impassioned testimonial to the work OYHFS does, and the evening premiered a film on the agency that features her. Ara Zenobians brought his beaming parents to the benefit, along with his partners and staff from his firm.

“Michael and Ara have repeatedly proven their dedication and commitment to our children and our programs and services through their affiliation with us,” said Sil Orlando, executive director of OYHFS. “These awards represent our thanks to them for their unstinting support.”

More than 320 guests attended the gala that began with an open air reception on the movie set street in front of the theater. The theatrical atmosphere followed inside where tables were adorned by bouquets of roses and dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck.

Some $62,000 of the monies raised came from a mini-fundraiser at the beginning of the event targeting special education services for students at Optimist High School. Honoree Zenobians donated $28,000 to the fund. The highly rated school is running at a deficit due to dwindling funding from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Many guests hovered around the white, customized Subaru Impreza WRX 5-door on display in the theatre. It is being auctioned off on E-Bay and the full proceeds, expected to exceed $25,000, will be an additional source of revenue for the home.

The Mentor Gala was co-sponsored by Eclipse, Santa Monica Subaru and Free-FM Radio. KNBC News anchor Chris Schauble was the master of ceremonies.


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