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February 27th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
The Friends of Sierra Madre Library indeed have a lot of friends judging by the large attendance at the 39th annual Wine and Cuisine Tasting event at Alverno Villa Friday night. A crowd approaching the 400 mark dined on food served up by 23 local restaurants, caterers and grocers, and sipped wine served by 24 wineries during the two and a half hour event.
Adding to the colorful scene were floral tributes donated by five local florists, a jazz guitarist and a magician.
Community members and friends strolled through the downstairs rooms of the estate attracted to tables set up by food providers serving small samples of items that are found on their menus. Though small portions were served, by the time nibblers found the last table pretty close to a full meal could be consumed in an array of types and styles of food ranging from barbeque ribs to ziti. Likewise, the winery tables offered both red and white wine allowing attendees a chance to taste a variety of wines.
An anteroom was designated for silent auction items, all donated by 49 local businesses and citizens. The bidding was active with, in many cases, friends taunting each other by slyly over-bidding. Wide choices were available that included art works, event tickets, dining opportunities and health items.
Jazz guitarist Eric Byak found a comfortable corner in the main room to provide lively background music. Will Chandler, a Magic Castle Magician who resides in Sunnyvale, Ca., spread cards out on a table covered in black velvet inviting guests to “pick a card”, then teased them with his sparkling patter and sleight of hand talents.
Behind one of the wine tasting tables was Dan Lucero, his wife Marian and one of his four daughters serving their family wines from the Lucero Winery. The Luceros had come down from Dobbins, Ca, located in the Sierra foothills, to participate in the Library’s annual fund-raiser. Dan Lucero, who holds a doctorate in education, taught at Arcadia High School from about 1969 to 1990 heading up video production and overseeing the Apache newsletter. In fact, Dan and Marian grew up in Alhambra. Following the death of Marian’s father, the family needed to settle his estate which included a cattle ranch in Dobbins. After selling of the cattle, the Luceros embarked on planting grapes. The family attended viticulture classes at University of California, Davis. So now, with a daughter who holds a degree in microbiology with a minor in chemistry from Cal Poly Pomona, his wife who acts as vineyard manager, and himself and the family, Lucero has introduced a line of wines. While Lucero’s story is more homebred than most, still, the same cheery hometown flavor could be found at just about all the tables of both food and wine.
The Wine and Cuisine Tasting event has raised significant funds for the Sierra Madre Library for close to four decades. Proceeds allow the library to offer such programs as a pre-school story hour, a teen book and summer reading club, computer classes for adults (and the computers to go with them for public use), videos, CDs and books-on-tape, large print books for the vision impaired, and to add to the traveler and collectors series.
Kellie Strubinski served as chair of the Wine and Cuisine Tasting committee. Board members of the Friends of Sierra Madre Library include Meegan Tosh, President; Margaret Quigley, Vice-President; Alan Leahy, treasurer; Beth Smith-Kellock, corresponding secretary; and Directors Pat Woods, Kellie Strubinsky, Sharon Murphy, Antoinette Navarrro, Clem Bartolai, Nina Bartolai, Fran Garbaccio, Pam Kelly, Rich Johnson, Darlene Traxler, Julia Gottesman, Patricia Hall, Mary Tumilty and Wendy Stockly.
By Bill Peters