Monday, February 19 , 2018, 1:28 am | Fair 50º


Central Coast Wine Classic Returns to San Luis Obispo County With August Event

After expanding into Santa Barbara County in 2016, the annual Central Coast Wine Classic will return to its roots in San Luis Obispo County for its late August event. 

Archie McLaren founded the event 32 years ago and continues to oversee the schedule and popular silent and live auctions, frequently picking wines from his own cellar for the various
auction lots.

But a stroke in 2015 slowed down McLaren, and earlier this month he told me that the upcoming event “may be my last, because my brain isn’t healing from my stroke.”

And while the 2016 foray into Santa Barbara County last year offered guests new venues for winemaker dinners and wine tasting, McLaren said he has brought the event back to
San Luis Obispo County in part because his assistant lives there, and his Avila home will be “close if I need it.”

This year’s event, Aug. 25 through Aug. 27, is a much smaller version of even last year’s, which included seminars and tastings with winemakers from around the globe. And in prior years, the Classic regularly featured a grape varietal-specific panel with winemakers from throughout the Central Coast.

However, the event continues to have a strong and loyal following of attendees, as well as local chefs and winemakers who work behind the scenes with McLaren and his team to create
spectacular meals and auction lots of wines.

Among the approximately 50 lots of the Central Wine Classic’s highlight — the live auction — will be food-and wine-centric trips to New Orleans and Vietnam, a cruise through the waterways outside Paris, dinner for eight in San Francisco with McLaren and Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator, and a 32-bottle collection of the best of Qupé Cellars, all selected by founder
and winemaker Bob Lindquist.

Archie McLaren, founder and organizer of the Central Coast Wine Classic, is looking forward to the event’s 32nd year next month. Click to view larger
Archie McLaren, founder and organizer of the Central Coast Wine Classic, is looking forward to the event’s 32nd year next month. (Courtesy photo)

Looking back on all his years coordinating Central Coast Wine Classics, McLaren said: “It is a profoundly satisfying experience to be celebrating 32 years and promoting the wine and
hospitality industries more or less world-wide, but with a specific focus on California, particularly San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, the Central Coast appellation to the north, and the Napa Valley, and in the process providing substantive funds for worthy beneficiaries in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.”

Central Coast Wine Classic raised nearly $2.5 million for more than 130 nonprofits from 2004 through 2016 on behalf of the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation, which was created in
2004, he said. The event skipped a year in 2015. 

Close to McLaren’s heart is his longtime connection with public radio station KCBX, an early beneficiary of the event.

It was a honor, he said, to “be associated with such a special nonprofit as Public Radio KCBX from 1985 through 2003. In fact, without KCBX’s staff support, the event could not have been
launched way back then, or continued for almost 20 years with KCBX as a beneficiary.”

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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