Connoisseurs gather for a good cause

Alisha Wyman

With the wine flowing and an array of hors d’oeuvres and desserts set out, it was hard to imagine that people are going hungry in the Truckee-Tahoe area. But the goal of the 3rd Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Sunday was to raise money for Project MANA, a hunger relief organization that provides food for families, homeless and the elderly on the North and West Shores of Lake Tahoe and in Truckee.

“Some people are surprised when they hear of Project MANA,” said Susan Frishman, a Truckee local and board member for the organization. “They say ‘You mean there’s a need?'”

After five years with organization, Frishman knows there is. The Project served 19,632 individuals last year.

The wine tasting, held at the PlumpJack Inn in Squaw Valley, is one of several fund-raisers the organization holds each year.

“This is wonderful because you get to talk to the wine makers,” said Frishman. “So while you’re enjoying the wine, you can learn something too.”

All the money raised at the wine tasting and auction goes to Project MANA, said Ed Miller, a friend of Project MANA and owner of Wild West Communications, during an announcement to the approximately 50 people who attended.

“So get lubricated enough so you’ll want to spend large amounts of money,” he joked.

The silent auction included a picnic for two at the top of Watson Peak, a basket from High Sierra Gardens in Incline and numerous bottles of wine from the wineries that attended.

Mary Pisor, a wine maker for Ehlers Estate, was responsible for recruiting wineries from the Napa Valley and Russian River to attend. Benessere, Stag’s Leap Cellars, Whitehall Lane Winery and Russian Hill Estate Vineyard were among the seven whom she invited.

“These are all my friends that I drug up here with me,” she said. “That’s what makes it so fun for me.”

Jane Lane and Bob Kershaw, two wine connoisseurs and owners of the Crystal Basin Cellars in Elderado County, were in the area when they heard of the event.

“This struck us as the thing to do,” Lane said. “We came to check out the competition. We are hoping to pour next year.”

Along with the wine and food, Double D, Denise Brown and Dan Mancuso from Truckee, provided live music.

Anne Ryan began Project MANA as a college project in Incline Village. It now employs four staff members as well as volunteers from Americorps and Vista.

The non-profit organization distributes food three times a week-once in Truckee, Kings Beach and Incline Village. Those in need can come to the distribution centers to pick up produce, non-perishables and dairy products. The organization brings food to people who can’t leave their homes.

“We don’t intend to provide all of the families’ food,” said George LeBard, the executive director. “We just supplement their food so they have adequate nutrition.”

Project MANA is also active in working with schools. It holds nutrition classes for elementary schools, hunger awareness classes for middle schools and food drives at the high schools.

Sonya Clark, the sales and events manager at the PlumpJack Inn, was happy to host the event. The Inn provided free rooms for the wine makers, the food and a place for the wine tasting.

“Anything we can do to help hunger relief in Lake Tahoe, we try to do.”

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