The event raised approximately $150,000

ATASCADERO — On Friday, June 21, from 5 to 10 p.m., community members headed to the Pavillion on the Lake to the 14th Annual Atascadero Kiwanis and Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner. The venue was packed with wineries, state officials, Atascadero’s mayor, and residents from all over San Luis Obispo County who came out to support the Kiwanis and this year’s beneficiary, El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO).

“Those of you that have been coming for years. With this dinner, we’ve raised right around a million dollars,” said emcee of the night and Atascadero City Manager Jim Lewis of past Winemaker Dinners in his opening speech.

The Winemaker Dinner started in 2011 and has benefitted the Joy Park playground, Boys & Girls Club, LIGHTHOUSE, and ALF Food Pantry. It has also helped graduating seniors further their education with scholarships, and that just scratches the surface.


“Our Kiwanis group has been in Atascadero for 55 years, and we are active in a number of ways. One is this Winemaker Dinner every year,” said Kiwanis President Cyndi Workman.

Winemaker Dinner Rick Evans 2
Atascadero City Manager Jim Lewis (on stage) emcees to a packed room at the 14th Annual Atascadero Kiwanis and Mayor Winemaker Dinner. Photo by Rick Evans.

The dinner and fundraiser was originally called the Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner but then became the Kiwanis and Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner due to Kiwanis always being a part of it. The event was started by past Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley.

“Kiwanis was looking for a new idea to raise some money, and I suggested, why don’t we do a winemaker dinner? It started out as the Mayor’s Winemaker Dinner and Mayor [Steve] Martin in Paso helped me out, and we were best friends and went to high school together,” stated O’Malley. “It’s just been a growing success every year, and the Kiwanians work their tails off. It’s an all-volunteer effort. All the wineries, we have 32 wineries volunteering. It’s just great.”

All 32 wineries were represented at a different table at the dinner, with winemakers themselves pouring selections to match the delicious food being served. Those wineries were Ancient Peaks Winery, Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, BeckersChild Wines, Bianchi Wines, Bovino Vineyards, Calcareous Vineyard, Caliza Winery, Cass Winery, Cordant Winery, Derby Wine Estates, Dilecta Winery, Dubost Wine, Eberle Winery, Ecluse Wines, Graveyard Vineyards, Hoyt Family Vineyards, Indigene Cellars, J Lohr, LeVigne Winery, Locatelli, MEA Wines, Niner Wine Estates, Opolo Vineyards, Oso Libre Winery, Peachy Canyon Winery, Pianetta Winery, Sculpterra Winery, Shale Oak Winery, Tolo Cellars, Vintage Cowboy, Volatus Wines, and Zobeto Wines.

During the dinner, ECHO CEO and President Wendy Lewis presented the audience with a touching story of one of the organization’s outreach case managers, Reece Scribner, and how ECHO changed her life before she decided to give back by working with the organization. Scribner’s story left the room full of emotion and really showed how much ECHO impacts the community.

“We are incredibly grateful to our friends at the Kiwanis. They have been supporting ECHO for years and years and years,” said Lewis.

Last year, ECHO helped 201 individuals and children get back into homes, and this year, they have already helped 118 people get rehoused from both their Paso Robles and Atascadero locations.

On top of the money donated by the Winemaker’s Dinner’s sponsors, there was also a live and silent auction and a raffle for 32 bottles of wine, one from each of the night’s wineries.

Auctioneer Doug Filipponi kept the bids climbing for all 11 live auction items and also acquired over $20,000 in Fund-a-Cause bids that went directly to ECHO, with donations going as high as $10,000.

Approximately $150,000 was raised, with a large portion of that going to ECHO, though the final numbers have not been officially released.

Feature Image: Emcee and City Manager Jim Lewis (with mic) and ECHO CEO/President Wendy Lewis (to his right) are shown on stage at the 14th Annual Atascadero Kiwanis and Mayor Winemaker Dinner. Photo by Rick Evans