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Wine for a cause: Vintage Albuquerque events benefit local children’s music and arts programs

Wine does more than nurture the soul; it nurtures children in the community in the form of charity, thanks to Vintage Albuquerque.

Vintage Albuquerque’s events, which benefit children’s art and music programs, begin Wednesday, June 20 with the Gala Grand Opening, a dinner with honorary vintner Regina Martinelli of Martinelli Winery and Vineyards. Martinelli will hold a wine seminar at noon on Thursday, June 21. Both events will be at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm.

“This is almost like a wine tasting that she hosts just for her wine,” said Linda Wedeen, executive director of Vintage Albuquerque. “She talks about all her different wines and what her family has done. They emigrated from Italy and opened this winery. It’s a lovely story.”

Also planned are wine pairings with different wineries. The wine pairing dinners begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at various locations throughout Albuquerque. The big event, The Grand Tasting, will be held June 22 at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

“That’s our big wine tasting and food tasting,” Wedeen said. “So it’s a big tent we put out there. … (Attendees) basically go around to the different restaurants and the distributors have all their different wines there and the wineries. It’s a big tasting and that is really a lot of fun. A lot of people show up to that and its been a big hit for us.”

Local restaurants, some local breweries and a number of wineries are showcased as part of Vintage Albuquerque.

“We have a bunch of different wines,” Wedeen said. “If you go on our website, which is, there’s a list of all the wineries and all the restaurants that are participating, which is really nice. As far as the restaurants go, we try to keep it to local restaurants. … The wineries are from all over.”

The “Big Event” Auction Dinner follows at the Albuquerque Country Club on June 23. The event features a tabled dinner with a large live auction with more than 40 items, such as art and trips, and a big silent auction with about 100 items.

What began 27 years ago as a benefit for the now-defunct New Mexico Symphony is now a nonprofit. This year’s Vintage Albuquerque beneficiaries are Opera Southwest, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, Working Classroom and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

“The New Mexico Symphony has since gone away,” Wedeen said. “It started out for their music programs and their arts programs, but because it became such a hit to our community and it’s turned into the biggest wine event of the whole Southwest, we decided to keep it going after the symphony went away. We decided to create our own 501(c)(3) and keep it going because the need is still there for all art and music education for kids.”