Friday, May 25 , 2018, 5:52 pm | A Few Clouds and Breezy 65º


Supporters Toast Hillside House with Sunset Soiree & Champagne Tasting

The El Mirador Estate in Montecito serves as an elegant setting for the nonprofit's annual fundraising event

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

Hillside House of Santa Barbara hosted it 10th annual Sunset Soiree & Champagne Tasting fundraising event at the famed El Mirador Estate in Montecito.

Hillside House is a nonprofit residential facility, therapeutic center and learning community located off Los Positas Road in Santa Barbara and cares for 59 people with moderate to severe developmental disabilities. It offers residents around-the-clock nursing care, a range of therapies, independent living skills training, and a wide variety of recreational and learning opportunities.

Supporters gathered under the canopy of ancient trees at the Armour/Mitchell estate. The venue was generously donated by Tita Lanning, who now owns the property, which her grandmother Lolita Amour was gifted on her 21st birthday. The stone ruins at the top of the driveway are what remain of a once-large mansion known as the Eaton House that was built in the early 1880s by Frederic Eaton. El Mirador has been in Lanning’s family since 1916.

After enjoying wine, cocktails and silent auction offerings on the lower lawn, guests meandered up to the outdoor dining area that was outfitted with decorated tables of 12 with heaters that kept the chilly June-gloom dampness at bay.

It was unique event — pairing champagne tastings with dialogue by connoisseur John Tilson, founder and author of The Underground Wine Letter. He has been visiting vineyards and tasting wines around the world since the late 1960s.

Tilson introduced four specially selected French champagnes that were poured and enjoyed during various parts of the program. Live entertainment was provided by JaZsation featuring Kim Collins, Debbie Denke, Andrew Martinez and Craig Thatcher.

Pure Joy Catering offered an hors d’oeuvres buffet of comfort-food macaroni and cheese, stuffed Belgian endive, meat skewers and lovely desserts.

The welcome and introductions were made by Jim Wolfe, president of the board. He introduced Tilson, former Santa Barbara investment manager who now focuses his talents on champagne. Four flights of champagne tasting interspersed the program and with numerous opportunities for questions from the assembled guests.

“Why are champagne glasses shaped like flutes?” So fewer bubbles escape. But flutes are becoming passé, per Tilson.

“What is a good California sparkling wine?” Anything that tastes good to you.

“Why does Dom Perignon cost so much?” Because it has the reputation and can command the price.

Tilson handled each question with deft and expertise. True champagne, he said, is produced in an 80,000-acre area in France. It was developed in the 4th to 5th century and used to be a dangerous profession because of the exploding bottles. Reim-based Moët & Chandon commands 25 percent of the champagne market.

Later in the program, remarks were made by Wayne Kjar, who spoke on behalf of the families in appreciation of Hillside House.

“I am so glad that Hillside House is there to take loving care of my sister,” he said. “I am so grateful that she lives in a community where she is safe. Hillside House’s mission is to recognize that everyone has a chance to express their capacities and to fulfill their dreams.”

Marie Williams Shipman, along with husband Alex, was the premier cru sponsor. Other major sponsors included Lanning, MarBorg Industries, Union Bank/Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Silvia DiLoreto, John and Laurie Tilson, Jim and Marcia Wolfe, and many others. The event committee included Cynthia Ardell, Susan Chapman, Silvio DiLoreto, board vice president Norris Goss, Lynn Jones, Ernesto Paredes, Joyce Shaar and Jim Wolfe.

George and Marlene Reimer were lauded as the 2013 People of Purpose. Wine and champagne glasses were raised by all to fete this gracious and generous couple.

Marcia Wolfe held her bid number high to support the cause. The opportunity was presented by her husband and Hillside House board president Jim Wolfe. Many other supporters also submitted their bid numbers in support of Hillside House residents.

Wolfe was joined in the fundraising effort by board members Norris Goss, Erik Wipf DDS, Donald Becker, Cynthia Ardell, Earl Armstrong, Susan Chapman, Silvio DiLoreto, Brad Frohling, Lynn Jones DSW, Chuck Klein, Richard Monk, Ernesto Paredes, Peter Troesch and Jon Valois. Bryant & Sons Jewelers was recognized for sponsoring the printing of the event invitations for the past 10 years.

The Assistance League is an important neighbor and supporter of Hillside House, and incoming board president Mavis Main was recognized. My friendly table consisted of longtime supporters Nick and Sue Vincent, Kathy Hartnett, Silvio DiLoreto, Andy and MaryJo Cooper, and George and Marlene Riemer.

Hillside House has plans to replace and expand its existing footprint in the Hidden Valley area of Santa Barbara. The aging facility needs to be replaced in order to sustain itself in its current physical capacity. Detty Peikert AIA has developed plans for the proposed new campus.

For more information, click here; contact Hillside House at 1235 Veronica Springs Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105; or call 805.687.0788 x11 for Executive Director Craig Olson.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow her on Twitter: @NoozhawkSociety and connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Pinterest.

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