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Local wine legend, philanthropist Archie McLaren dies at 75

Archie McLaren, here in 2005, died Tuesday at his colorful Avila Beach hillside home.
Archie McLaren, here in 2005, died Tuesday at his colorful Avila Beach hillside home. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Central Coast wine legend and devoted philanthropist Archie McLaren died Tuesday evening at his Avila Beach home. He was 75.

McLaren was the founder of the 32-year-old Central Coast Wine Classic and a philanthropist who helped raise millions for local charities. Several media outlets confirmed McLaren’s death on Wednesday.

Local public radio station KCBX, where McLaren once hosted a weekly show called “The Wine Drinker’s Guide to Indulgence,” recorded a short interview with news director Greta Mart and general manager and president Frank Lanzone remembering their former colleague.

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Archie McLaren, organizer for KCBX Wine Auction Classic, checks a wine for color in 1986. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

“He was the person who had the creativity to see what could happen and push the limits of what we did,” Lanzone said.

Born in Georgia, McLaren grew up in Memphis and graduated from law school at Carolina State University.

His experience with wine began when he was a university scholar in Tennessee and a friend invited him to a tasting.

McLaren reportedly died after battling cancer.

Stephanie Harkness, a close friend of McLaren, confirmed his death on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.

“From dinner at Hearst Castle yearly to lifestyle excursions, he was the consummate ringmaster tightly connected to the best in the world,” Harkness wrote.

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