Thursday, May 5 , 2016, 4:53 am | A Few Clouds 53º

Urban Wine Trail Hosts Grand Tasting to Benefit Unity Shoppe, Youth Interactive

Guests enjoy samples from 23 Santa Barbara wine-tasting rooms while browsing the displayed paintings of local budding artists

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery, and click here for a related story.]

A fun-filled weekend of wine tasting gathered vinophiles and supporters to a main event Grand Tasting hosted by the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail at the Carrillo Ballroom benefiting Youth Interactive and the Unity Shoppe.

SBUWT is a collective of 23 wine tasting rooms located in downtown Santa Barbara and near the beach who poured not only fine wines but generous spirit toward two local nonprofits through a live and silent auction.

“The Urban Wine Trail started out as a small group of five wineries back in 2005, and in 2007 there was a group of 18 and it needed to get together and become a real formal group, so we formed the Urban Wine Trail and since then its really grown,” Carr Winery owner Ryan Carr said.

Auctioneer Matthew Chung stirred the crowd helping to raise money, and Executive Director Tom Reed gave a special presentation that shared the needed support of the Unity Shoppe.

Reed spoke with Noozhawk about the needed exposure the event offered to Unity Shoppe after undergoing a major transition in November and having lost the organization's fundraising venue, warehouse and donation point.

“I think it’s good because of all these wineries and I can tell you 95 percent of the people in this room have never seen the Unity Shoppe; they may have heard about it, they don’t know first hand," he said. "So it’s an opportunity for us to instruct and introduce the Unity Shoppe to the local citizenry and spread the word.”

Members of Youth Interactive painted artwork of what inspired them from the various 23 wineries' wine labels that were proudly displayed around the venue by the passionate young artists.

Guests sipped and enjoyed samples of fabulous wines and delectable treats from local restaurants and wineries, and attendees were provided with the opportunity to purchase very limited library wines not available to the public.

The Urban Wine Trail’s efforts and revenues go to support making Santa Barbara County wines more accessible to visitors, and members include wineries that hold a Type 02 winegrowers license and whose annual production is at least 75 percent from Santa Barbara County.

“Neighbors helping neighbors” is the philosophy of Unity Shoppe, which assists low-income families, children, seniors and the disabled during difficult times to avoid welfare dependency. Clients make more than 68,000 visits annually to a food and clothing store, senior center, Job Smart program with resume and interview skills training, long-term disaster services for those affected by fire and flood and Santa’s Toy Shoppe that allows parents to selected toys for their own children during the holidays.

Youth Interactive strives to help deserving students achieve their dreams through technology, entrepreneurship, and art programs (T.E.A., Technology, Entrepreneurship and Arts) by providing young adults ages 10 to 24 with support and development skills. Young adults are put on a path toward long-term economic self-sufficiency with internships, stipends and college credits.

“All of our programming is free so we open the access to members of the community who might not otherwise get to participate in extracurricular activities and turn them on towards career sustainability and exploring those personal paths through the things that they are already passionate about,” Youth Interactive center coordinator Emily Griffith said.

For information on supporting Youth Interactive, click here, and for donation information to the Unity Shoppe, click here. To learn more about the Urban Wine Trail, visit the website by clicking here.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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