Of all the really cool places we’ve been lately, Avant Tapas and Wine definitely rates four stars. The Environmental Defense Center chose this starry spot for their dinner party May 8 honoring Richard and Thekla Sanford. 

The Sanford name has long been associated with very fine Santa Ynez Valley wines and their great respect for the environment. After selling their Sanford winery several years ago, Richard embarked on winemaking again under the name Alma Rosa. 

More than 100 guests dined on steak, chicken marsala or mushrooms swimming wildly around in a pasta sauce. Dessert was a divine chocolate cake created by Alice Gillaroo. When big oak wine barrels were rolled out and guests were invited to enjoy glasses of Alma Rosa pinot noir, ecstasy arrived! 

 Jim Farnum was the master of ceremonies and introduced such luminaries as County Supervisor Doreen Farr and her assistant Elizabeth Farnum, Bob Field, John Poitras, Don and Janet Gallagher, Gail Marshall, Valley News editor Dave Bemis, Sid and Linda Kastner, and Don and Ann Petroni. The musical interlude was furnished by pianist Charles Stauffer, who also accompanied singer Bill Hurbaugh. 

The honoree, Richard Sanford, noted that “after returning from Vietnam, I retreated to this beautiful spiritual place and I steeped myself in its glory.” 

Of special interest was the large attendance of rural home owners east of Highway 154 who wanted to show their support for the Valley wine industry and the wineries that abide by county rules. They especially oppose the opening of tasting rooms (wine bars) and event centers adjacent to rural homes. 

The Gallaghers, who are among those eastern-valley residents, represented a new organization called Preservation of Agricultural Lands (PAL), whose mission is to protect and promote the rural character of neighborhoods and preserve agricultural lands and their natural resources.

This organization feels that wine-tasting and special events are commercial activities that belong in commercial zones as outlined in the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan.

“We want to preserve and protect the natural beauty and rural agricultural nature of the Valley,” Don Gallagher said, “and we will continue to resist urban type development on agricultural lands.”  

While dining, Pat Dixon exchanged French travel stories with Ann Lippincott and Ed Emerson. Ann is the associate director of Teacher Education Program at UCSB and president of the board of directors of the Mental Wellness Center.

Other notable guests were Donna and Patrick Will, Dick and Jenny Dore, Bill Wathen, Gerry Shepherd, Peggy Brierton, Bob Andrews and Janet Wilkenson, Russell and Barbara Radom, Louie and Jill Lucas, Frank and Jami Ostini, Ward Rafferty, Doug and Betsy Riedy, Joan Hartmann, Jim Powell, Allen Koehn, Sandy Simon, Nancy Hunsicker, Judi Stauffer, Rick Hubbard, Billie and John Vrtiak, Jefferson Woeste, Seyburn Zorthian and Marc McGinnes, Tim Elwell, Suzan Hamilton-Todd, Kelly Elm, Ron Colone, Cerene St. John, Marsha Lefkovits, Kelly Gray and Chris Beebe. 



 Quiz of the Week: What odd item did John Rasmussen once bring to a fundraiser?

 Answer to last week’s quiz: The great mystery in Nebraska is why there are more triplets born there than any other state.

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