Editorials

Has local love for wine gone too far?

The 32nd Annual Wine Festival was held May 15 - 18, in Paso Robles. The festivities included winemaker dinners on Thursday, a reserve event on Friday, the grand tasting on Saturday and winery activities on Sunday.
The 32nd Annual Wine Festival was held May 15 - 18, in Paso Robles. The festivities included winemaker dinners on Thursday, a reserve event on Friday, the grand tasting on Saturday and winery activities on Sunday. The Tribune

We live in a region blessed with attractions; the quality and variety of our wines are among them. We’ve developed a local wine culture that didn’t exist 50 years ago — one that includes wine tastings, festivals, seminars, as well as frequent charity events that feature wine and other alcoholic beverages.

But have we gone too far? A few letter writers have raised that question over the past couple of weeks. They’ve pointed to the number of fundraisers on the Central Coast that feature wine and other alcoholic beverages, and they have wondered what sort of message that sends to young people.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that sentiment expressed.

From time to time, readers have raised concerns about the potential for drunken driving accidents following such events. A few have questioned whether it’s appropriate to hold wine tastings and similar fundraisers to benefit patients with some cancers and other diseases linked to alcohol consumption.

Certainly, there are health concerns associated with drinking alcohol, but the same can be said for any number of items. A host of foods and beverages — sodas, fatty foods, sugary desserts, barbecued meats — play a role in many diseases. We’d be holding nonprofits to an awfully high standard if we asked them to purge their events of all such foods.

As for drunken driving, that potential exists whether someone’s drinking at a bar, a restaurant, a tasting room or a private party. It’s absurd to believe there will be a rash of drunken driving accidents simply because a nonprofit organization serves wine to adults at a charity dinner.

In our experience, organizers of such events have been scrupulous hosts who ensure their guests are safe by serving alcohol in moderation. Some even provide shuttle services to and from their events. That’s a great idea that we highly encourage.

As for the argument that alcohol has become all-pervasive at charity events — sending the wrong message to our kids — we respectfully disagree.

Hardly a weekend goes by without a charity run or walk (including some sponsored by local wineries). There are benefit concerts, art shows, bake sales, bingo games, rummage sales, barbecues, auctions. There’s also the option of simply writing a check.

Bottom line: Nonprofit organizations work extremely hard to provide an array of services and, on top of that, face the arduous job of raising funds to support their good efforts.

If offering donors dinner with a glass of wine helps them in their mission, we see nothing at all wrong with that.

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