Rotary Club of Paso Robles Awards $94,000 in Scholarships to Local High School Seniors in 2024 – Thank You Winemakers’ Cookoff Supporters

The Rotary Club of Paso Robles recently awarded over $94,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors.  Rotary Club of Paso Robles Scholarship Chair Scott Laycock and Club President Bob Vilhauer presented a total of $92,360 in 18 scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 at a scholarship award event held at Paso Robles High School on June 6.  The smaller scholarships were for graduates planning to attend Cuesta College while the largest $10,000 scholarships were multi-year awards for students planning on attending 4-year universities. 

The Rotary Club of Paso Robles also hosted the scholarship winners and their families to their weekly lunch meeting on Thursday June 13, where they were recognized by all club members for their outstanding scholastic achievements. The recipients shared their plans for continuing their education with those in attendance.  Rotary Club of Paso Robles Scholarship Chair Scott Laycock noted:

“the accomplishments of the scholarship applicants are truly amazing, making selection of the winners by the club’s Scholarship Selection Committee challenging but very fulfilling.” 

These scholarships are enabled by the annual Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff, the largest fundraiser put on by the Rotary Club of Paso Robles each year.  All proceeds from this event go to the Harlow Ford Scholarship Fund dedicated to funding scholarships for local high school seniors at Paso Robles High School and Liberty High School to attend trade schools, community colleges, and universities.  To date, the Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff has raised over $1,000,000.  This year’s 25th annual event will be held on Saturday, August 10, at the Paso Robles Event Center.

In addition to these scholarships, the Rotary Club of Paso Robles awarded an additional $2,000 in Legacy scholarships through the club’s Youth Fund.

About Rotary International

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.4 million members of more than 46,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members improve lives and bring positive, lasting change to communities around the world by promoting peace, fighting disease (like the mission for the global eradication of polio), providing clean water and sanitation, supporting education, saving mothers and children, growing local economies, and protecting the environment.

Paso Robles Cookoff Wineries 2019

2019 Wineries & Breweries

The fabulous line up of great wineries participating in the 2019 Cookoff!

allegretto Allegretto Vineyardancient peaks Ancient Peaks
  Calcareous    CaliPaso
Cass Wines cypher wines Cypher Winery
dark star Dark Star Dubost Winery 
search.jpg Eberle Winery Glunz Family Winery & Cellars
Hope Family Wines / Treana     Hoyt Family Vineyards
Hunt Cellarsrio seco Justin Winery  
  Lusso Della Terra     Midnight Cellars
  Opolo      Peachy Canyon  
Pear Valley Vineyard  Penman Springs
rio seco Rio Seco  Robert Hall
Tooth and Nail Vino Vargas
    Wild Horse Winery     
Dead Oak Breweryrio seco Earth and Fire
Firestone Walker Brewing Company   
Pouring only:
BrokenEArthLogo Broken Earth    Ecluse Winery
  Stillwaters VineyardCalifornia Coast Beer 

2018 Paso Robles Rotary Club Winemakers’ Cookoff Winners

Event shows community is hungry to help local students with college scholarships.

Organizers of the 20th annual Winemakers’ Cookoff are pleased to call this year’s event a huge success. The Cookoff, held on August 11th at the Paso Robles Event Center, drew a record 1300 people–making this the highest grossing, and most attended Cookoff, in its 20 year history. 

“This community really came out for our local students,” says Rotary Cookoff Committee Chair, Sharon Ross. “It’s clear the support is out there.”

Ross attributes the event’s success to a number of factors: the dedication of the Paso Robles Rotary Club and Title Sponsor Stifel Financial, the participation of nearly three dozen wineries and breweries who donated their time and their culinary talents to the Cookoff, and of course, the hundreds of people who purchased tickets to attend the festive (and competitive!) event.

“The night was perfect!” says Ross. “The weather was great, our wineries and breweries we were able to showcase the best of Paso Robles, and everyone there had a great time. A little fun competition, a lot of food and wine…and beer! We couldn’t be happier with the results!”

The annual Winemakers’ Cookoff allows the Rotary Club to contribute funds for local high school scholarships. This year, the club will contribute another $65,000 to the Harlow Ford Scholarship Fund. Each year, the club’s continuing support has made it the largest single scholarship donor at Paso Robles High School.

wine makers cook off

2018 Winners!

Peoples’ Choice: 1. Diablo Paso 2. Rio Seco 3. Calcareous Honorable mention: – Derby   Brewery: Firestone     Judge’s Award: 1. Tooth & Nail 2. Calcareous 3. Eberle Honorable mention: – Peachy Canyon   Professional Category: 1. Diablo Paso with Jeffrey’s Wine Country BBQ 2. Derby Wine Estates with Chef Luis Ruiz of Chulos Cafe 3. Rio Seco Winery with The Sausage & The Clam catering Honorable mention: Earth & Fire Brewery with Pappy McGregor’s   Spirit Award: 1. Derby 2. Justin 3. Pear Valley  


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Read more in the Paso Robles Daily News

2018 Press Release


PASO ROBLES, CA — Get ready for one of the biggest wine and food events on the Central Coast of California! The 20th annual Winemakers’ Cookoff is set to take place on Saturday, August 11th from 6pm-9pm at the Paso Robles Event Center. The event, sponsored by the Paso Robles Rotary Club and presented by Stifel Financial Corp., brings visitors from all over the country to this community to showcase the quality of life we all share here in Paso Robles. While guests enjoy food and wine from 30 different local wineries and specialty breweries, local high school students benefit in the form of college scholarships that are awarded by Rotary from the proceeds of this event. To date, the Paso Robles Rotary Club District 5240 has raised nearly $750,000 toward this effort. Rotary is now the largest scholarship donor at the Paso Robles High School. This year, Paso Robles Rotary awarded $75,000 in scholarships for high school seniors.

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2017 Winemakers’ Cookoff  judges

The Paso Robles Rotary Club announced its lineup of judges for the 2017 Winemakers’ Cookoff fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, August 12th. The 2017 Cookoff judging crew consists of the five respected food and wine industry professionals: Robert Whitley, San Diego-based syndicated wine writer and wine-industry judge, Mike Cervin, Santa Barbara-based food and wine journalist and author; William-Bloxsom Carter, Former Playboy Executive Chef and Owner/Chef of The Canyon Villa in Paso Robles, CA; Sara Schneider, Wine Editor of Sunset Magazine; and Mira Honeycutt, wine writer and columnist based in Paso Robles, CA.

“This is an extremely experienced and cohesive group of judges,” says David Lundy, Chairman of the Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff. “We’re lucky that they love this event and are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to participate in this event.”

The judges’ duties are to sample the wine and food pairings prepared on site and served to event attendees by the 35 participating wineries and breweries to determine winners of the Judges’ Choice awards. In a parallel food and wine pairing competition, participating winemakers solicit votes from attendees for the People’s Choice awards.

Below are brief biographies of the five talented wine-industry pros lined up to judge this year’s cookoff:

Robert Whitley

Robert Whitley is host of the “Wine Talk” column, wine columnist for the Creator’s Syndicate published in major newspapers. Robert also is publisher of Wine Review Online, which draws upon the expertise of top U.S. wine and food journalists. Whitley oversees the Critics Challenge, the San Diego International Wine Competition and the Monterey Wine Competition as well as numerous wine tasting events. Robert also hosts two weekly radio shows – Whitley On Wine and The Gourmet Club.

Michael Cervin

Michael Cervin has been involved in the wine industry and focused on the Central Coast for a dozen years as a writer, judge and educator. He is the author of the national travel book, California Wine Country, and has written about wine for “Decanter,” “Wine Enthusiast,” “Wine & Spirits,” “Sommelier Journal,” “The Tasting Panel,” “Food & Beverage World,” and he regularly contributes to “Fine Wine & Liquor,” the largest wine magazine in China. His professional judging experience has included The Best of Vinho Verde Awards in Portugal, the Taste of Rum Festival in Puerto Rico, the California State Fair Wine Competition, The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, the Central Coast Wine Competition, and many charity wine and food competitions. He is also the restaurant critic and travel writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press.

William Bloxsom-Carter

After 30 years as the Executive Chef of the Playboy Mansion, William Bloxsom-Carter is now living his dream as Owner/Chef of The Canyon Villa in Paso Robles.  Chef Carter is a master at pairing food and wine; executing a menu with tremendous thought to the availability of fresh ingredients and pairing his menu with wine.  As an expressive connoisseur of Paso Robles wines, in particular, Chef Carter knows what makes an award-winning food/wine combination.  His palate and expertise will lend an insightful hand into the cookoff judging team. 

Sara Schneider

Sara Schneider is Sunset magazine’s first wine editor, responsible for tasting panels, food-and-wine pairing in the test kitchen, wine-related food and travel coverage, Sunset’s International Wine Competition, and the magazine’s wine club. 

With a B.A. and an M.A. in English, Sara taught high-school English for 10 years before a love of cooking drew her to San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, where her wine interest began. After earning her AOS degree, she combined her word and culinary backgrounds as editor of Berkeley-based Bay Food magazine for three years, then joined Sunset’s editorial staff, first on the copy desk, then as a senior food editor, eventually becoming head of the food department. In that role, she expanded the magazine’s wine coverage, and launched its Western Wine Awards program and the Sunset Wine Club. In 2005 she was named wine editor.

Mira Honeycutt

Mira Advani Honeycutt is a Paso Robles-based food/wine journalist and author with over 20 years’ experience. Her weekly column Sip & Savor is published in the Paso Robles Daily News and she is a regular contributor to the Napa Valley Register and Sommelier India Wine Magazine. Honeycutt is the author of California’s Central Coast, The Ultimate Winery Guide: From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles (Chronicle Books). Honeycutt is the curator of the recently published book, The Winemakers of Paso Robles. She has chronicled the wine world from California and Oregon to France and Italy and her stories have been published in Harper’s Bazaar (India), the Hong Kong Tatler, Asian Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter amongst other international publications. 

During its nineteen-year history, the Paso Robles Winemakers’ Cookoff has become one of Paso Robles’ most-popular wine, food and music events. It is also one of its most unique. The Cookoff features not just local wines, but the culinary talents of more than 35 of the appellation’s winemakers and brewmasters. Participating wineries and breweries pair their culinary creations with their finest wines and compete for both Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards the day of the event. Since the first Winemakers’ Cookoff in 1999, proceeds from the Winemakers’ Cookoff have been deposited in Rotary’s Harlow Ford Scholarship Foundation building a perpetual fund that has enabled the Paso Robles Rotary Club to award scholarships totaling nearly $600,000 as well as build a perpetual fund that will help guarantee future scholarship benefits. For more information on the Paso Robles Rotary Club and the Winemakers’ Cookoff visit:

2013 Winemaker’s Cookoff winners

2013 Winemaker’s Cookoff Winners

More than 1,000 attend Paso Robles Rotary Club’s annual fundraiser

Over 1,000 wine tasters attended last Saturday at the Paso Robles Rotary Club’s 15th Annual Winemakers Cookoff. Eberle Winery took home the ‘Peoples Choice’ award. Calcareous won the coveted juried award. The event was held at the Paso Robles Event Center on Saturday Aug. 10, 2013 from 6 to 9 p.m. Over the past 14 years, the Winemakers’ Cookoff has raised more than $400,000 for local youth scholarships. Last year, the Rotary’s Foundation awarded over $30,000 in high-school senior scholarships. When the final proceeds are tallied, the club will announce this year’s earnings for scholarships.

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Winemakers’ Cookoff® Name Trademarked by Paso Robles Rotary Club

Winemakers’ Cookoff® Name Trademarked by Paso Robles Rotary Club

“Winemakers’ Cookoff” Trademark Approved Helps Protect Unique Name of Unique Event

Paso Robles, CA, July 25, 2011 – The Paso Robles Rotary Club acted to protect the name of its annual “Winemakers’ Cookoff” fundraiser event by trademarking it. The local Rotary Club has successfully registered the mark, “Winemakers’ Cookoff®,” with the Commissioner of Trademarks in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

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2011 Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff Repeats 2010 Judge Lineup

2011 Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff Repeats 2010 Judge Lineup

Paso Robles, CA, July 11, 2011 – The Paso Robles Rotary Club announced its lineup of judges for the 2011 Winemakers’ Cookoff fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, August 6. The 2011 Cookoff judging crew consists of the same five respected food and wine industry professionals as last year: Mike Cerwin, Santa Barbara-based wine journalist; Lynne Diehl, Central Coast wine-show host and wine-industry journalist; Kathy Marks-Hardesty, local wine industry journalist; Mike Stepanovich, wine writer, judge and college educator; and Robert Whitley, San Diego-based syndicated wine writer and wine-industry judge. 

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2011 Title Sponsor

Save the Date–13th-Annual Paso Robles Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff Date, Title Sponsor and Location Announced

Winemakers’ Cookoff to be Held August 6 at River Oaks Hot Springs

Heritage Oaks Bank Re-ups as 2011 Title Sponsor

Paso Robles, CA, March 8, 2011 – The Paso Robles Rotary Club is hoping to follow up the record-matching attendance and proceeds from its 12th-Annual Winemakers’ Cookoff scholarship fundraiser held in 2010 with another successful Cookoff this coming August. Today, it announced that Heritage Oaks Bank has renewed its title sponsorship for the 2011 Cookoff. Once again, Estrella Associates will host the event at its River Oaks Hot Springs in Paso Robles on Saturday, August, 6, 2011 from 6-9 PM. 

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Paso Robles Cookoff Wineries 2010

2010 Wineries

A fabulous line up of great wineries will be particpating in the Cookoff this year! 

Ancient Peaks Clautiere Vineyard
Arroyo Robles Winery Cinquain Cellars  
Bianchi Winery   Mitchella Vineyard & Winery  
Clayhouse Wines   Cass Winery
Daou Vineyards   Eberle Winery
Eagle Castle Winery   Four Vines Winery  
Halter Ranch Vineyard   Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery
Midnight Cellars 
  Hearthstone Vineyard and Winery
  Mondo Cellars     RIO SECO Vineyard & Winery
Peachy Canyon Winery
  Rotta Winery  
  Tassajara Cellars   Silver Horse Winery  
Stacked Stone Cellars   Sylvester Vineyards & Winery
Sharp’s Hill Vineyards Whalebone Winery
  Calcareous    Pear Valley Vineyard  
Chronic Cellars Hearst Ranch Winery
  WCP Cellars  Vina Robles
  Niner Wine Estates Rockin’ R Winery
Terry Hoage Vineyards Vinfuzion
JK Wine Company