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'Sunset in the Vineyard'

Assistance League of Santa Clarita Valley hosts home wine makers in fundraiser

Posted: December 6, 2008 7:18 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Danny Mascari and Carmen D'Argenzio display their Bouquet Vineyard wine.

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If you host it they will attend - and attend they did for "Sunset in the Vineyard."

Assistance League of Santa Clarita Valley held a casual afternoon wine tasting in the backyard vineyard of Jeannie and Chris Carpenter in Newhall that spilled into the backyard of brother Tim Carpenter.

Highlighting the day for the more than 350 guests were the home wine makers who offered tastes of the fruits of their labor.

Carol Malcolm, with husband Jim Malcolm of Vintner's Cellar in Newhall, also attended.

"We are here in support of Assistance League, and we opened Vintner's Cellar on Oct. 4," she said. "We're making wine right here in the Santa Clarita Valley. Our first vintage was just filtered and bottled this week."

Carol Malcolm echoed a sentiment that many expressed throughout the afternoon - surprise at the number and quality of home wine makers in the SCV.

"There is a whole wonderful community of home wine makers in the SCV and I never knew they existed until now," she said.

Jeannie Carpenter, president of Assistance League of SCV, said the group was looking for a new and different fundraiser and thought that hosting a wine tasting of home wine makers would be fun.

"We expected to sell maybe 200 tickets but we've far exceeded that number," she said. "I think this event was attractive to people because it's just a little different. I've seen a lot of new faces here today, too, people I've not seen at events around town and that is also very nice."

Carpenter's husband Chris was busy attending to the crowd, offering barrel tastings from his own wine from Compa Vineyard, the name Tim and his brother have bestowed on their 1/4-acre vineyard in the heart of Newhall. The brothers planted 200 vines of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre grapes.

"All French, all in the southern Rhone French style," Jeannie Carpenter said.

Guests admired the vineyard that spread down a steep hill in the backyard of Tim Carpenter. The grapes had been harvested weeks ago and the leaves were turning fall colors, but the vineyard attracted eager guests who listened eagerly as Tim Carpenter explained its secrets.

"We're expecting great things from this event and we are hoping it will be an annual event," said Leila Rosenberger, an Assistance League member.

Danny Mascari of Bouquet Vineyard attended with father-in-law Carmen D'Argenzio.

"We're here for fun and it seemed like it was for a very good cause," he said. "I have a lot of other home wine makers I associate with and they asked me to come and I'm very flattered."

Mascari said he planted a small vineyard "up Bouquet Canyon" and named it Bouquet Vineyard.

"The name became a no-brainer," he said.

Guests mingled to background music and munched on hors d'oeuvres prepared by other Assistance League members.

"Assistance League is an amazing group of women and I came out to support them," said event guest Rose Chegwin.

Among the programs supported by Assistance League is Operation School Bell, which provides new school clothes, shoes and other supplies for elementary school students in the SCV.

Guests paid $50 for advance tickets and $60 at the door.

Judy Penman, 2008 SCV Woman of the Year, said she came to support Assistance League, but was fascinated by the vineyard itself.

"To think there is a vineyard in Newhall. You think you have to have acres and acres, but you don't," she said. "Isn't this a fabulous place?"

Other home wine makers who attended the event or sent wine included Roman Weiser, Patty and Chris Connolly, Nate and Jennifer Hasper, Megan and Steve Lemley, Jenny and Tomas Lukas, Steve and Mara Prutting, Kerry and Susie Clark and Claudia and Juan Alonso.

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