Charity Spotlight: Big Canyon to Host Wine Tasting Benefit for The Wooden Floor

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John and Janice Markley
John and Janice Markley

In an ambitious effort to curate one of the most-talked-about annual charity wine benefits in Orange County, John and Janice Markley of Laguna Beach have collected and donated more than 3,000 bottles of exquisite wines over the past decade to galvanize community support for The Wooden Floor, a nonprofit which transforms the lives of young people in low-income communities through the power of dance and access to higher education.

Every year, the Markleys amass over 350 bottles of highly rated wines to be uncorked for the more than 300 attendees of The Wooden Floor’s Keep the Promise Wine Tasting Benefit.

This year’s event, to be held on Sept. 22 at Big Canyon Country Club, is the 10th annual wine event, and promises to be the best one yet.

Guests will taste from 12 featured wines ranked in the top one to five percent of their regions, including Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, and California.

This year’s benefit is on track to pass the $2 million mark of funds cumulatively raised over the event’s 10-year

Wooden Floor students rehearse a dance
Wooden Floor students rehearse a dance

existence, helping to support students’ journeys out of poverty through access to higher education.

This year’s benefit features wine averaging 97.5 points, including a wine fetching up to $265 per bottle and another rated 100 points by The Wine Advocate, the highest possible rating by the influential publication of wine critic Robert Parker.

According to Parker’s website, a rating of 96-100 points is, “An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character,” and “worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.”

Guests of Keep the Promise will taste each wine during a fun “blind tasting” competition.

Keep the Promise has quickly become one of the region’s hottest charity events, selling out each year and bringing together community leaders and philanthropists to raise funds for The Wooden Floor’s ongoing success rate of having 100% of its graduates complete high school on time and immediately enroll in higher education, which is more than double that of their socioeconomic peers. Most of the organization’s graduates come from extremely low-income backgrounds and are the first in their families to go to college.

“Not only are we celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Keep the Promise Wine Tasting Benefit, but we’re also very proud that this year, The Wooden Floor will have its largest graduating class ever – over 35 students set to graduate high school on time and enroll in higher education,” said Executive Director and Co-CEO Dawn S. Reese. “As the size of our graduating classes increase, so has the need for the tools and resources we provide for these young people to be successful in school and in life. We are grateful for the support we receive from sponsors and attendees, so we are able to keep the promise we make to each of our students, that from here, you can step anywhere.”

Featured wines include a 2005 Bodegas Catena Zapata Nicolas Catena Zapata from Argentina (rated 98 by The Wine Advocate); 2010 Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière. St. Émilion, Bordeuax, France (Wine Spectator’s #2 Wine of the Year for 2013); 2010 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova. Tuscany, Italy (rated 100 points by The Wine Advocate); 2010 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection. Napa (rated 98 points by The Wine Advocate);  2010 Domaine Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Reservee. Rhone, France (rated 98 points by The Wine Advocate); 2011 M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Meal Blanc. Rhone, France (rated 99 points by The Wine Advocate); znd many other notable wines.

Tickets may still be available for $350 per person ($250 of which is tax deductible), but this event sells out every year so RSVP at (714) 541.8314 ext. 129 or visit TheWoodenFloor.org/WineTasting before it’s too late.

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