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August 21, 2012 > Music in the Vineyard

Music in the Vineyard

By M. J. Laird
Photos By courtesy of Kathleen Sage

A local nonprofit organization that funds projects assisting women at critical junctures in their lives is hosting a laid-back afternoon of music and wine at Westover Winery on Sunday, August 26.

The rustic tasting room of Westover with its open, tree-accented courtyard provides a relaxing place to take in the last breaths of summer. William and Jill Smyth own and operate the award-winning winery, known for its large variety of port wines. Smyth began the vineyards, just a mile from where William Westover Smyth's grandmother, Ione Westover was born in 1906. His partner and wife, Jill, grew up in the wine industry, learning from local winemaker, Bob Burger.

Music in the Vineyard returns for the third year as the primary fundraiser for Soroptimist International of the Tri-Cities at a local winery off Niles Canyon Road. Attendees can purchase wine by bottle or glass, while listening to the classic rock, country and Southern rock sounds of Highway 4, an East Bay band that performed last year and has a familiar playlist encouraging audience participation.

Food sales are planned but attendees are welcome to bring their own and picnic or graze. A number of vendors will show their wares - Dove Chocolate Discoveries, DGUY Jewelry Design, Cake Handcrafted Soaps, Squirt & Doodle Pet Supplies, BB Buckles and Debbie Baldwin Handmade Crafts - giving attendees a head start on holiday shopping. A host of auction and raffle prizes will be offered, ranging from restaurant vouchers to Oakland A's passes to a two-night stay at a Reno casino.

Soroptimist has set an admission price of $45 per car since Westover has a 75-space parking area; reservations are required. "So come in a two-seater convertible or pack into a 12-seater van," says Kathleen Sage, a graphic designer who co-chairs the event with Debbie Derham. "It doesn't matter, the admission price is the same."

In past years, about 100 people have attended but as word has spread about this great event, about 150 people are expected this year.

Celebrating its 10th year since the local club recharted, Soroptimist has looked to musical events for community enrichment and fundraising for its projects. Prior to Music in the Vineyard, Soroptimist co-hosted the Tri-City Blues Festival with Newark Chamber of Commerce.

Soroptimist International of the Tri-Cities disbanded more than a decade ago but the embers were rekindled to support local women. The re-chartered organization now meets on the third Monday of each month at Papillion Restaurant for a dinner program, often with a speaker on topics pertaining to needs of women. Locally, Soroptimists sponsor the Women's Opportunity Award for heads of household returning to college and the "Pretty Bags" project providing personal care items to survivors of human trafficking, survivors of domestic violence, and homeless women living in a shelter. In October, Soroptimist will sponsor a lobster sale fundraiser.

The organization hosts a number of workshops to help women through major life transitions, including workshops to prepare for work and obtain financial assistance. Soroptimist also recognizes efforts of female teen volunteers who work for community improvement with its Violet Richardson Award, named for one of its founding members. The first Soroptimist chapter began in California in Oakland in 1921 and expanded to become an international organization.

Sage, who has been a Soroptimist for five years, finds satisfaction in "just knowing that even though I am part of a small group, I am helping women and girls. I know I am making a difference in their lives."

Music in the Vineyard
Sunday, August 26
3:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
(Gates open at 2:30 p.m.)
Westover Winery
34329 Palomares Road, Castro Valley?
(510) 621-7482
Cost: $45 per car

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