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Sip and taste at Folsom Rotary Club's Wine & Dine fundraiser

By: Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
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The Rotary Wine and Dine event, hosted annually by the Rotary Club of Folsom, will reach a milestone 20th anniversary this year.

The event is from 5:30-8:30 p.m., Sunday, April 28, and hundreds of connoisseurs will gather at the Folsom Community Center to taste wines, sample the offerings of local restaurants and bid on a multitude of items donated by businesses both local and farther afield.

“The Club’s Wine and Dine steering committee has continuously strived to improve the event over the years,” said Don Reid, chairman of the event.

Reid said their objective this year is to create a feeling as though patrons are actually at one of the local foothill wineries “tasting great wine from 26 different wineries and sampling delicious food from 14 different restaurants.”

Erik Loigom, owner, with his wife, of Wine Styles on Sutter Street. helps organize the wineries.  They’ve done is for the last three years.

Doug Burton, who is in charge of the silent auction, said that they have some great items this year going for bid.  His wife, Wendy, he says, works to gather donations from businesses and community.

“We were able to get four one-day Hopper passes down at Disneyland and that’s worth about $500,” Burton said.  “From the 49ers, (we got) a limited edition football, a throwback football that’s not available to the general public.  They only made 500 of those. We actually have that in our possession right now.”

The auction, Burton estimates, raises about as much as the gate for the event for the club’s many community service projects.  One of the biggest is the dictionary project.

“We give away 1,000 dictionaries,” said Jim Karnis, current president of the Rotary Club of Folsom, which go to all the third-graders in Folsom elementary schools.

The dictionary program began in 2005, and for the last few years all three Rotary Clubs in Folsom have worked together on the project. 

The Rotary Club of Folsom carries out many other service projects, and recently gave $3,500 to 14 teachers, to help them with some of their projects.

“We give $4,000 in scholarships every year,” Karnis said.  “We give, probably, every year, about $30,000 back into the community, which is a good feeling.”

The Rotary Wine and Dine began in 1993, with Dennis Inks of Folsom one of the founding fathers.  John Kemp was the president of the club then, Inks said.

“He brought on Joe Teresi, also, because he was going to bring in the jazz group from Folsom High School, which was very popular then, and still is,” Inks said.  “That was the essence of it; we had a committee of three:  John Kemp, Dennis Inks and Joe Teresi.”

Inks was in the restaurant business, and owned Café Natoma on Sutter Street, which he said had probably the finest wine list of any restaurant in Northern California.  He remains involved in the wine business and said he may be pouring for Deaver Vineyards at this year’s event.

“The first (event) we had, I think, about 280 people,” Inks said.  “We didn’t have a silent auction, we were strictly a wine and dine. We had 10 wineries and five restaurants . . . The original price on the first one was $15 per person.”

Inks said that club members did all the work for the event.

“The club members even cleaned out the spit buckets and made sure that everybody had ice for their white wines, and had anything they needed,” Inks said.  “Everybody seemed to enjoy it and it was the start of something that’s lasted for 20 years.”

The Rotary Club of Folsom is the oldest and largest Rotary in Folsom, founded in 1953, and now has 75 members, Karnis said.

For more information about the Wine, Dine, and Silent Auction event, call (916) 765-0292 or visit www.folsomrotary.org.