Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Wine-Tasting Fund-Raiser Sells Out 1,400 Tickets Amid Vast Auction Lots

By Alesandra Dubin May 18, 2010, 1:28 PM EDT

The sprawling California Winemasters event

Photo: David Skernick

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Evening With the California Winemasters
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California, with its natural resources and fertile farmlands, produces an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fresh ingredients and fine wines. And the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation exploits those riches annually when it hosts its sprawling Culinary Evening With the California Wintemasters food and wine tasting fund-raiser at Warner Brothers Studios.

The event—which began with 125 guests on the rooftop of a West Hollywood hotel—is now in its 21st year and sold out all 1,400 available tickets. It brought 71 wineries and 45 guest chefs, with net proceeds expected to exceed $1.5 million when the tally is complete.

An event of that size requires a substantial committee to coordinate: Allen Balik is the event founder and co-chairman, and his wife, Barbara, is director of special giving for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. (As Napa Valley residents, their ties to the wine country are extensive.) Katherine Caulfield is event producer and director. Patty McCormick 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.

In addition to a vast live auction with tens of lots called by energetic auctioneer Dawn Marie Kotsonis, silent auction lots focusing on travel and wine filled the property. The event also introduced online bidding that began shortly afterward: Items on will stay on the Web site for two weeks.

“By continually offering our guests an opportunity to taste small-production wines that are in many instances difficult to find, paired with cuisine from award-winning chefs, we guarantee our guests will enjoy a different experience year after year,” said Barbara Balik. “Since most of our guests are not part of the entertainment industry, their once-a-year visit to Midwest Street at Warner Brothers Studios is always fresh and exciting.”

An eco-friendly bonus: Building on the event's green push last year, this year organizers recycled all wine corks.

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