The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Culinary Evening With the California Winemasters food and wine tasting fund-raiser at Warner Brothers Studios annually brings a slate of wineries and restaurants so vast that walking the stations can take hours—and result in a bellyache. It's a far cry from the event's humble beginnings 22 years ago as a gathering of 125 guests on the rooftop of a West Hollywood hotel, and this year sold out its 1,400 tickets and raised close to $1.7 million.
Allen Balik is the event founder and co-chairman, and his wife, Barbara, is director of special giving for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. (They are Napa Valley residents with extensive wine-country connections.) Katherine Caulfield is event producer. Jacquelin Sonderling coordinates logistics from the foundation’s Los Angeles chapter office, and Warner Brothers Special Events, led by Hillary Harris, produces from the facility side. Plus, Beth Smith coordinates more than 200 volunteers who work on the event throughout the weekend.
A sprawling silent auction was so extensive as to be divided into six categories, which included wine, travel, and lifestyle lots, as well as a live auction program. A drawing for a Toyota Prius was limited to 1,000 tickets.
The most expensive wines poured at the event included a 2007 Gemstone ($165), 2008 Morlet Family Passionnément ($195), and 2006 Peter Michael Les Pavots ($160). And adding to the fund-raiser's total take was a 2001-to-2006 six-bottle vertical of Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tache, which went for $15,000 and was the most expensive wine auctioned.