Saturday, September 19, 2020

Coronado Rotary’s 2020 Wine Tasting Goes Virtual; features Paso Robles Wine Country

This year the public is invited to join the fun!

The public is invited to Rotary’s End Polio Now Wine Tasting Event and Live Auction on Friday, Sept, 25 at 6 pm featuring the Paso Robles Wine Country and three pioneer winemakers of the region.

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It’s the first time the club is doing wine tasting “virtually.”

“It’s not really as crazy as it sounds, because participants can sign up to buy one or more bottles of wine in advance,” said Sue Maack, who is co-chairing the event with Kitt Williams. “We also have 12 ‘Celebrity Wine Tasters” who will comment on the special nuances of each wine.”

These wines will be tasted at the Rotary Wine-Tasting.

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Additionally, a silent auction goes live to the public on September 17 at Among its offerings, the silent auction features several of Coronado’s top restaurants and shops.

“One of our club members, our dear Jerry Winter, personally purchased gift cards to all these places so that we didn’t overly burden our merchants at this trying time,” said event Co-Chair Kitt Williams. “So the merchants and restaurants win, End Polio Now campaign wins, and the lucky winning bidder wins!”

The Paso Robles wine region now encompasses more than 250 wineries and owes much of its spectacular growth to three “Pioneers of Paso” winemakers, who are special guests at the online event. They include:

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Gary Eberle poses with a bronze boar outside his winery; Eberle in Germany means boar.

Gary Eberle of Eberle Winery. Gary set up the Paso Robles appellation in the 1970s and was the first to place the name Paso Robles on his bottles. Known as the “King of Cabs” in the area, he has garnered more than 100 awards for his cabernet sauvignon over the years. He also hails from Penn State, where he was a legendary linebacker, just a few years before Coronado Rotary’s Jim Laslavic played football at Penn.

Austin Hope is one of the three “Pioneers of Paso” who will be guests at the winery.

Austin Hope of Hope Family Wines. Austin moved with his family to Paso in the 1970s when he was five years old and started working in the vineyards at age five. That was when the Hopes sold all their grapes to other brands. But in 1994, they launched their own brand, Liberty School, and have since added four more brands: Treana, Quest, Troublemaker and their signature, Austin Hope wines. Hope’s 2015 cabernet sauvignon nabbed a 97 point rating from Wine Spectator. It really caused the industry to stand up and take notice of Paso!

Janell Dusi learned the art of winemaking from her grandfather, Dante Dusi; his truck is now permanently parked at the winery.

Janell Dusi of J Dusi Winery. Janell’s great grandparents emigrated from Northern Italy in the 1920s, and brought with them zinfandel vines that were the first planted on the California coast. Those vines are still growing today, along with many vines planted subsequently. “We were farmers first,” says Janell, who founded the J Dusi Winery seven years ago, by convincing her family members to reserve 20 percent of their vines to establish their own brand.

Christopher Taranto, communications director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, will serve as event moderator. And while the wineries are the backbone of Paso’s tourism industry, Stacie Jacob of Travel Paso, will share additional features of this vibrant Central Coast area, including great restaurants, breweries, distilleries and some wonderful places to stay.

Interspersed with the fast-moving wine tasting, will be bidding on five Live Auction items that include a “Heritage Video” of family photos and mementos with musical background, and a Paso Robles Wine Country three-day getaway with lodging at luxury boutique SummerWood Inn, free wine-tasting at four wineries and dining at two of the area’s most acclaimed restaurants, Il Cortile Ristorante and Thomas Hill Organics.

The luxurious but laid-back SummerWood Inn is located in the heart of Paso Robles Wine Country and is featured in a three-day getaway Live Auction prize.

Williams and Maack head a 35-person organizing committee, which has already raised $50,000 for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. That $50,000 will be matched two-for-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so already this event has generated $150,000 to wipe polio off the face of the earth! Africa was just certified polio free and just two countries –Pakistan and Afghanistan – remain to be conquered.

End Polio Now immunization.

“As we have all seen with Covid-19, when a virus exists anywhere in the world, the rest of the world is at risk.” said Williams. “We are ‘this close’ to remove that risk from all humankind.”

Tickets to the wine tasting are $95 a person ($190 for two people) and $30 for all additional people in the same group. Tickets can be purchased at Every dollar raised goes to the End Polio Now campaign. Persons interested in purchasing the wines featured in the auction should contact Sue Maack at

Grapevines basking in the summertime sun have since turned deep red and are part of the September-October harvest.


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Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to:


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