After holding their annual Wine & Food Tasting benefit virtually last year, the Gabilan chapter of the Kinship Center was able to convene in person on Sept. 11 at Paicines Ranch for a record-breaking fundraising event. Kris Waller and Danielle Burke co-chaired the benefit which raises money for the center’s goal of providing caring permanent families for children who have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment
“I am lucky to be here and proud to take part,” said 20th District Congressman Jimmy Panetta. “I think it really says a lot about the community that they are here to help the Kinship Center to provide for families who need that extra support.”
Now in its 65th year, the event had a humble start as a cheese-and-crackers get-together for 200 people, with Almaden wines being poured. This year, a sold-out crowd of 800 guests sampled food and beverages from 27 restaurants and food vendors as well as 26 wineries, breweries, coffee makers and tap houses.
The event featured a live auction of four items: a three-night stay at a home on Lake Tulloch donated by Tracy and Mike Nino; a Vegas Rat Pack-themed dinner for 12 at the home of Irene and Ted Davis; a pizza-crafting dinner for 16 at the home of Kristen and Gordon Wynn; and a two-night western getaway for six at R&G Ranch in Paicines. There was also a raffle for a selection of wines and wine experiences with a value of over $3,000.
“This has been a record-breaking year for us,” Waller said. “Out of concerns for COVID we reduced the crowd size a little, by a hundred people or so, but the generosity of our members and guests made up for it. And we exceeded our fundraising goal, making over $125,000. The auction alone made $25,800 and we made $6,000 on the raffle.”
The restaurants went all-out with customer favorites. Hollister’s La Catrina had the largest spread, with chicken taquitos, pork mole, chile verde, and pulled pork burritos. San Juan Bautista’s Smoke Point BBQ had one of the longest lines, serving pulled pork and a perfect mac and cheese. San Juan Bautista’s Mission Cafe served specialties from their Basque Matxian Etxea including a massive paella.
County wineries in attendance included Calera Wine Company, recently named as one of the top 100 wineries in the world by Wine & Spirits magazine, as well as Eden Rift Vineyards, DeRose Winery, Alicats Winery and Wild Eye Winery. Waller’s sons Mike, winemaker for Calera, and Cory, winemaker for Eden Rift, were at the event as well.
Several beverage companies took part for the first time this year, including four wineries that source their grapes from San Benito County: Ser Winery, Kobza Wines, Chesebro Wines and Seabold Cellars. Hollister’s Swank Beer Experience made its debut, offering their new Oktoberfest and Honey Wheat beers. Crave Wine Company, a new wine bar opening in Hollister, also served at the event.
Chuck Frowein has been attending the Kinship Center fundraiser for over 10 years and sponsored two tables this year for his Hollister brewery and restaurants, Grill’n & Chill’n Alehouse and Grill’n & Chill’n Roadhouse.
“It is a good way to give back to the community and help out with the work that the Kinship Center does for women and children,” he said. “They take care of our community and give back to our locals.”
Sweets were also in abundance. Margot’s Ice Cream had truffles and frozen pineapple whip. Apricot King and B&R Farms, both from Hollister, highlighted the wonders of the Blenheim with frozen apricot purees, jalapeno-apricot cream cheese dip, chocolate-covered apricots, and more. Hollister’s Marich Chocolates handed out small bags of their chocolate-covered fruits, nuts and toffees.
Since its founding in 1990, Waller says the Gabilan Chapter has raised over $1.5 million for the foster and adoptive services of the Seneca Family of Agencies within San Benito County. This is their only fundraising event for the year.
“Kinship puts on one of the most impressive community cultural events that I have the pleasure of taking part in,” said Eden Rift owner Christian Pillsbury. “It is one of those summer festivals where you get to catch up with old friends and meet new people. In a place that is as spread out as San Benito, you don’t always get that opportunity. It is a great event for the culture of cohesion.”
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