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Hospice of Santa Barbara Fundraiser Cultivates Harvest of Hope and Healing

First-ever Harvest for Hospice benefit event features soothing music, fine wine, flavorful cuisine — even a stomping of the grapes

Supporters of Hospice of Santa Barbara gathered at one of the oldest vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley last Saturday afternoon for the first-ever Harvest for Hospice fundraiser at The Brander Vineyard in Los Olivos.

A cultivation of hope and a celebration of life and remembrance for loved ones was shared among guests who settled in for a relaxing day of music, world-class wine and flavorful Italian cuisine in a shaded courtyard adjacent to the wine-tasting room.

“We call this Harvest for Hospice, but it’s really a harvest of healing and hope because so much of what we do is to go deep into people’s lives when they are facing a life-threatening illness and loss,” said Steve Jacobsen, executive director Hospice of Santa Barbara. “We walk with them until they heal, and this kind of event makes what we do possible.”

The warm midday sun stretched across the vine-covered walls of an enclosed square with four shade trees and decorative tables laden with fresh sunflowers and tablecloths in autumn colors.

An intoxicating scent of garlic and spices teased the air and was accompanied by the romantic sounds of solo classic guitarist Anthony Ybarra, whose blend of Latin, flamenco and classical jazz tunes set a harmonious and intimate tone for the 50-plus attendees who sampled award-winning wines from The Brander Vineyard and a gourmet buffet from Ca’Dario.

Doug Cristallo MacMillan, who is recognized for his award-winning cioppino as executive chef and owner of Rosa’s Italian Restaurant in Pismo Beach, also delighted the crowd with a cooking demonstration and exclusive preview for the popular Bouillabaisse Festival that will return in May 2012 after a short hiatus in support Hospice of Santa Barbara.

MacMillan explained that cioppino is a tomato-based seafood stew evolved from Portuguese and Italian immigrant fishermen who after a long day of fishing would join together and share the catch of different seafood in one pot.

“Anytime we can support hospice in any county, we do,” MacMillan said. “And those who can should, because without hospice where would we be?”

Established in 1974 by Alice Heath and the Altrusa Club with local citizens, the bereavement organization partnered with the Santa Barbara Visiting Nurse Association in 1990 to provide hospice services for the community.

Hospice of Santa Barbara is a volunteer organization that specializes in providing spiritual, social and emotional needs for the terminally ill while supporting children and families with grief counseling, trained volunteers, support groups and a wide array of community education programs.

All services are free of charge, and Hospice of Santa Barbara works closely with home health agencies, certified hospice programs and private agencies to meet the nursing needs of patients serving 420 people monthly, and 100 of them are children throughout the community.

One of the many highlights of the afternoon was the much-anticipated stomping of the grapes, a tradition of winemaking that spans back as far as Rome 200 B.C.

The festive crowd gathered around a tin drum filled with sauvignon blanc grapes, and cheers erupted when participants slipped off shoes, washed feet and climbed into the container smiling broadly as the berries slipped between their toes and meshed with the tender white grapes.

Ensuring that nothing goes to waste, the extracted juice was used to make Brander margaritas for the guests.

Later, some visitors strolled across the beautifully landscaped grounds, soaking in the 40-acre vineyard vista views while others remained in the square reviewing silent auctions items on display, including original oil paintings donated by local artists, such as Paul Roux, Joyce Wilson and Michele Zuzalek, plus a Winemaker Dinner Package for eight with celebrity chef Michelle Karam.

Jacobsen declared the afternoon a success with an estimated $9,000 raised for Hospice of Santa Barbara and was pleased with the turnout of supporters who made the drive out to the valley.

“People are having a lovely time, and at the same time helping us do our work,” he said.

For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, click here or call 805.563.8820.

Hospice of Santa Barbara would like to thank the following sponsors for their generosity: Sagewood Systems, NS Ceramic Inc., Jacqueline Otto Marston, Gary Simpson and Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center, Mission Wealth Management LLC and The Brander Vineyard.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews, and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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