Eberle, Derby win top honors at Winemakers’ Cookoff
1235 attend 17th annual fundraiser
– It’s been a winning year for Gary Eberle, winner of the Judges Award at the 17th annual Paso Robles Rotary Club’s Winemakers’ Cookoff held Saturday evening at the Paso Robles Event Center.
Eberle Winery won first prize in the winemaker’s category for his signature, “no-nonsense lip-lovin’ baby back ribs.”
“Everybody knows what we went through last year,” said Eberle of the challenges endured by him at his eponymous winery.
The second prize was nabbed by Barrel House Brewing Company for its prosciutto-wrapped caramelized peaches by chef Matthew Jacobs. In the third place, Sextant winery chef Vernie Ogden’s Texas-style smoked brisket sliders tied with Adelaida’s Romany gypsy lamb sliders crafted by chef Paul Sowerby and served by a band of bohemian clad gypsies under an exotic tent. Calcareous Winery received an Honorable mention for chef Jason Joyce’s pork, chicken and brisket Trinity sandwich.
The popular food and wine fundraiser that has enabled the Paso Robles Rotary to award scholarships exceeding $400,000 to date, was masterminded by Eberle. “When I started this 17 years ago, I wanted to have a wine event that kept our money in Paso Robles,” said Eberle. “As an industry we give money to so many people.” But every dollar raised at this event, noted Eberle, goes to students in Paso.
Smoke and tantalizing aromas filled the grounds of Paso Robles Event Center as chefs grilled and smoked assorted meats to a record-breaking crowd of 1235 attendees. For the few vegetarians, meatless sliders were also offered.
Paso foodies gave their vote to Derby Wine Estate for the top prize in People’s Choice Award. Chef Kevin Archambeault’s creation of bacon wrapped smoked cheddar sausage on a stick was accompanied by a mini vanilla bourbon cream filled corn muffin. The second prize went to Barrel House and Pear Valley received third prize for chef Jared Lee’s sweet and spicy jerk chicken. Self Family Vineyard got another Honorable mention.
In the Spirit Award category, Broken Earth Winery nabbed first prize for chef Kirk Sowell’s alligator kebabs, Adelaida’s sliders second and J.Lohr’s beef cyclone chili whipped up the winery’s employees came in third.
This year the cookoff added the professional chefs category. The first prize was given to Diablo Paso Winery that teamed up with Mistura restaurant’s Peruvian specialty Anticuchos de pollo. Justin Winery’s grilled brisket with leek aioli by chef Will Torres nabbed second prize. CaliPaso chef Margaret Shirley’s Memphis style smoked pork loin sliders came in third. First time entry, Self Family Vineyard with Vine Catering received Honorable mention for Three Little Pigs — wine-braised pork belly, with bacon jam and candy heaped on a Chinese spoon.
The judges had their work cut out with so many creative dishes to taste and vote on. The group included food and wine journalists Michael Cervin, Robert Whitley and Kathy Marks Hardesty, cookbook author Brigit Binns and innkeeper-chef William S. Carter.
This year the elaborate booth displays had various themes going on, from western and mardi gras to gypsies and a touch of Las Vegas complete with an Elvis impersonator.
All the dishes were well paired with wines, red, white and rosé. However, with the 100-degree heat wave, the Barrel House Brewing Company turned out to be a popular booth.