The beauty of living in Southern California is our grapes can take their own sweet time to ripen.
And so it is with this year’s Chefs & Cellars: An Afternoon in the Vineyard to benefit the Palos Verdes Art Center at the verdant Catalina View Gardens.
The modus operandi of the day is to lazily saunter throughout the vineyard sipping excellent wine paired with a wide choice of epicurean specialties.
The venue—not open to the general public—offers a rare opportunity to experience the beauty of the Gardens and the Palos Verdes Peninsula at its very best.
This year, event chair Sharon Ryan and The Associates of Palos Verdes Art Center President Deena Gribben expect a sold-out crowd of 200 guests.
More than 30 food and beverage presenters have been invited to participate, including new vendors Brio, The Cove, Stonefire Grill, La Traviata, Kelly - Home Chef, Pappy’s Seafood and Critic’s Choice Catering.
Chef and caterer Jean Cordero of Entertaining Friends and Sacred Occasions, who has been a stalwart fixture at the Chefs & Cellars event for almost five years said her clinets include individuals, organizations, movie people and churches.
She recently catered the last flight on Virgin Atlantic for business magnate Sir Richard Branson before Alaska Airlines bought him out.
Her speciality is customizing food presentations for every occasion, always with an eye toward cornucopias of original appetizers and bountiful food displays.
“If I’m going to give,” she said of the Chef & Cellars event, “I’m going to do it really well.”
New wineries include Girl and the Grape, Specialty Cellars out of Santa Fe Springs and AVE Winery based in Redondo Beach.
Behind the scenes there are a few new surprises from owner and host Jim York. For the past three years he has opened his spectacular avocado grove, vineyard, farmland acreage for this lavish garden party.
York can’t keep the excitement out of his voice when talking about peninsula wine production or farming organic vegetables for all his South Bay neighbors.
“We just bottled this week—for the first time—our 2017 Chardonnay which is 100 percent Estate Grown from our vineyard on the Palos Verdes Peninsula,” said York, who shares an aesthetic and creative relationship with the Palo Verdes Art Center. “We also bottled our 2018 Pinot Noir from a blend of our Peninsula vineyard and a vineyard in Santa Barbara County in the Santa Rita hills.”
Additionally, the estate recently yielded more than 12,500 lbs. of organic Haas avocados—the best crop ever, York said. Five hundred pounds were purchased by Terranea, and much of the rest went to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Auction items are plenty
But food and wine aren’t the only draws this year.
The 2018 silent auction must-haves include a four-day/ three-night stay in an ocean view suite at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu, an Indian dinner party for 10 hosted by Mohini Syal, lobster picnic basket for four, deluxe condo stays at Palm Springs, Big Bear and Arrowhead and a gorgeous coastal watercolor by one of the Peninsula’s last grand dames, Katrina Vanderlip.
Substantial, generous silent auction baskets donated by supporters include dining packages, jewelry, clothing, speciality wines, and a charming book basket for young readers by a local author.
But it’s truly the love of art that brings peninsula folks together on this elegant occasion.
Since 1931, The Palos Verdes Art Center has showcased and built a platform for arts engagement through exhibitions, arts education, student scholarships and other public programs. Exceptional art exhibits are free to the public, while classes for all ages and skill levels are offered at expedient prices.
And many hold the Palos Verdes Art Center dear to their hearts for more personal reasons.
“One of our daughters first got exposed to art at a young age at the Art Center through Art at Your Fingertips,” York said of the school-based outreach program. “This love of art has led her to a successful career in the field of architecture.”