Second annual Malibu Wine Classic benefits Childhelp USA

From left, Malibu resident Tony Griffin, John Saliba and Michael de Wit at the 2004 Malibu Wine Classic.

The festival features local wineries giving attendees the opportunity to taste more than 100 wines. Beau Rivage owner Daniel Forge will be the festival’s Chevalier du Tastevin-similar to a parade marshal.

By Bridget Graham-Gungoren/Special to The Malibu Times

The second annual Malibu Wine Classic, which showcases the best wines of Malibu, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, is expected to draw 700 attendees to the wine and food pairing festival taking place under a large tent at the Sunset Restaurant and Beach Bar at Zuma Beach on Saturday.

Part of the proceeds will benefit Childhelp USA, a national nonprofit organization for prevention and treatment of child abuse.

Co-founder Michael Barnes said the festival is a good event for Malibu because there really isn’t another public event, other than the Chili Cook-Off. He said he wants to bring locals, West Los Angeles residents and avid wine enthusiasts out to experience the wine and food of the Malibu-area community. “There is such great wine, particularly in the last few years and no one knows that.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to taste more than 100 wines.

“South Central Coast wines tend to be lighter-bodied wines,” Barnes said.

Local Malibu restaurants will serve portions of food from their menus and the attendees will choose the wines that pair best with hamburgers to pasta and meat sauce to fine foods and signature dishes. New vintages will be available for tasting that are not yet in stores.

Wines will be judged on the evening before the festival by eight professional judges from the wine industry for taste, aroma and clarity within red and white classifications. Results will be available to the public on Saturday.

Festival co-founder John Selman said about the area’s wine, “What’s emerging is phenomenal.”

Selman has tasted some of the wines still in the barrel from the years 2002, 2003 and 2004. “These harvests are so much better than 2001 that were getting critical acclaim.”

Selman said he grew tired of having to travel to wine festivals in Paso Robles or San Francisco when there are wineries right here in the Malibu area. “There is nothing in L.A. like this,” he said about the event. He said he sees this festival having “fantastic growth over the next two to three years.”

After the success of the movie “Sideways,” which takes place in the local wine country, people are beginning to understand the vast array of wines available in the Central South Coast of California. “No one thinks of the South Coast as a winery; Los Angeles was a wine region long before Napa,” Barnes said.

“‘Sideways’ will help catch the general public to what wine enthusiasts already knew,” Barnes said about the connection. A take-home bag of goodies for the attendees will include the wine map from the movie.

Similar to a parade marshal, the event will have a “Chevalier du Tastevin”-Daniel Forge, owner and proprietor of Beau Rivage.

“Daniel has been a staple to the event,” Barnes said of the honor given to Daniel.

The pairing with Childhelp USA, one of the oldest and largest national nonprofits for children, marks the beginning of the partnership with a charity organization. “Last year, it was more of a competition on a small scale with limited public attention,” Selman said.

Sarah Rodriguez, the director of national cause for Childhelp USA, said they are excited about being the beneficiary. “We hope to raise awareness in the fight against child abuse that crosses every socioeconomic boundary in our society.”

The agency is a nonreporting agency and educates on how to avoid child abuse as well as providing treatment.

The Malibu Classic Wine Festival takes place on Saturday, April 2, at the Sunset Restaurant and Beach Bar, 6800 Westward Beach; 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. $50 in advance, $70 at the door. Childcare is available; or 866.462.2838. Information about Childhelp USA can be found at or at the hotline, 1.800.4.A.Child.