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Wine flows at festival

Third Annual Santa Clarita Wine Fest draws hundreds, raises funds for charity

Posted: March 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.

John and Heidi Koonce join hundreds of attendees as they sample a wine at the Third Annual Santa Clarita Wine Fest, which was held in the Bridgeport Marketplace parking lot on Saturday afternoon. (Dan Watson/The Signal )

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Spirits were both high and freely flowing Saturday at Bridgeport Marketplace in Valencia for the Third Annual Santa Clarita Wine Fest.

A crowd of hundreds, many with wine glasses fixed firmly in hand, packed into a series of tents to view the wares from various wineries and breweries.

This year’s event also had a decidedly international flavor to it, with participating vendors coming from Argentina, Spain and Scotland, among others.

Saturday’s four-hour event was expected to draw a crowd of more than 1,000, according to event organizers.

This year marked the third year in a row the festival has been held in Santa Clarita, said Joel M. Fisher, the founder and chief executive officer of the festival.

Fisher, who founded a similar wine festival in Los Angeles eight years ago, said the event has been embraced in force by the Santa Clarita community.

“We’re already getting phone calls from people looking to sign up (for the event) a year from now,” Fisher said.

While much of the event is about mixing and mingling, some of the proceeds raised go to benefit a local charity: The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer.

This is the second year the foundation has helped raise money for the charity.

The foundation provides financial and emotional support for the families of children with cancer, according to Gillian Stone, the foundation’s executive director.

These services include counseling groups and providing gas and food cards to parents while their children are undergoing treatment, Stone said.

Fisher estimated last year’s event raised between $5,000 and $10,000 for the charity.

While there are financial benefits to the partnership, Stone said, the event also helps the foundation with its outreach efforts.

“We get to go out and meet some interesting people,” Stone said. “We’re so proud of what we do and we want to share it with people.”

One such person was Valencia resident Moira Sutherland, who lives across the street from Bridgeport Marketplace.

“If you didn’t come here, you wouldn’t think a children’s charity and a wine festival would be a good mix,” she said. “But look around. Clearly it gets your attention.”

Lmoney@signalscv.com

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