Charity: The Wooden Floor’s ‘Keep the Promise’ Wine Tasting Benefit

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Sommelier Steven Poe
Sommelier Steven Poe

Seven is a lucky number–at least that’s what Orange County’s innovative art-based youth development organization, The Wooden Floor, is hoping.

Their seventh annual “Keep the Promise” Wine Tasting Benefit will be held in Newport Beach on Thursday, September 26. It’s an opportunity for wine lovers to taste exceptionally rare wines from all over the world and at the same time support a wonderful organization.

This year, more than 300 people are expected to attend the event and sample 14 rare, top-rated wines (94 points and above by the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator) from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Germany, France, Italy, New Zealand and Spain.

The wines have been generously collected and donated by Newport Beach residents Janice and John Markley, who started the annual event seven years ago as a way to bring wine aficionados and community supporters together to directly support the organization and its year-round dance, academic and family service programs offered at no cost to 375 low-income youth annually.

The blending of wine and the arts seems like a perfect match. In less than a decade, Markley has helped The Wooden Floor take the once low-key event that brought in

Janice and John Markley
Janice and John Markley

$35,000 its first year to one that has managed to collectively raise over $600,000 for the organization (last year’s event alone netted $200,000).

“In the beginning, I picked out my favorite wines that I like to drink. I didn’t look too hard at the ratings or anything else,” recalled Markley. “But as we moved along, I started keeping track of the points, and then finally I tried to do everything over 90 points. Most of the time I can find the 95 point wines.”

Markley said he works with Master Sommelier Steven Poe of Big Canyon Country Club to coordinate obtaining the wines, and Poe is at the event to lend his expertise and help guide patrons through the wines.

“We will start out with blind tastings then take the paper off and people can go around and look at all the wines and taste them,” explained Markley. “Steven Poe will be circulating to talk about the wines. When you have the paper on the bottle, there’s no label to get you excited, it’s just pure taste. No biases.”

If Markley’s biased at all, it’s about helping The Wooden Floor, which has served 75,000 low-income youth since its inception 30 years ago and is proud of its strong graduation track record: 100 percent of its senior class enrolled in higher education for the ninth consecutive year.

Tickets to the event are $350 per person, but $250 of that amount is tax deductible. The event includes wine, appetizers, cheese displays, silent auctions, opportunity drawing, and more.

For more information, visit or call 714-541-8314. But do it soon–the event sells out every year.

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