This Williamsburg fundraiser pairs French wine and food for protecting women

The Avalon Center has expanded to serve roughly 1,300 people each year, focusing on ending sexual and domestic violence against women.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Avalon, a nonprofit that aims to end sexual and domestic violence, will hold their third annual wine tour on May 20. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Caldwell)
The Avalon Center, a Williamsburg nonprofit that aims to end sexual and domestic violence, will hold its third annual wine tour on May 20. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Caldwell)

The Avalon Center has been serving the Williamsburg community since 1978, offering services for women in abusive relationships.

But now Avalon is bringing something else to the community: French wine.

“We have a lot of small fundraisers throughout the year, but this is a our big event and we want people to be pleasantly surprised with the wines,” said Priscilla Caldwell, director of development and communications at the Avalon Center.

The wine tasting will bring the French countryside to Williamsburg through a wine tasting and dinner at Le Yaca French Restaurant on May 20.

Protecting Tidewater women 

The Avalon Center is a nonprofit that aims to end and break the cycle of sexual violence, according to its website.

It began in 1978 with a group of Williamsburg women who were concerned about sexual and domestic violence against women and decided to study the issue in the area and assess what women’s needs might be, the nonprofit’s website says.

Since then, the Avalon Center has expanded to serve roughly 1,300 people each year in Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Poquoson, New Kent, West Point and Charles City, as well as the Middle Peninsula of Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex, King and Queen and King William Counties.

The Avalon Center has been part of the Williamsburg community since 1978. Since then, there have been a variety of service projects and fundraisers in the community to help support the services that the nonprofit offers to women. (WYDaily Archives)
The Avalon Center has been part of the Williamsburg community since 1978. Since then, there have been a variety of service projects and fundraisers in the community to help support the services that the nonprofit offers to women. (WYDaily Archives)

Avalon provides services for women and their families, such as counseling and life-skills education, and maintains a housing facility for women who need protection, according to the website. In the past year, the center has also started to plan programs for younger students, to teach about healthy relationships, according to Caldwell.

Fundraisers such as the wine tasting, which raises approximately $45,000 a year, help keep the nonprofit’s services growing, according to Caldwell.

“Avalon has grown to where it is, and is able to serve the community as much as it does now because of the generosity of people here,” Caldwell said.

Wining and dining

The wines at the tasting are chosen by Clement Brown, who has more than 40 years of experience in wine sales and is currently a sales representative for Williamsburg with the Roanoke Valley Wine Co.

At the third annual Avalon wine tasting, volunteers dress as up and serve wine to guests. Before the event, Clement Brown, who chooses the selection of wines for the night, meets with the volunteers and teaches them information about each wine they are serving. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Caldwell)
Clement Brown, who chooses wines for the night, meets with the volunteers and teaches them about each wine they’re serving. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Caldwell)

Brown, who was born at the American Hospital of Paris, France, has had a lifelong interest in wine. He has traveled and tasted his way through various regions, exploring a variety of wines.

For Avalon’s wine tasting, Brown chooses wines that spotlight regions throughout France and that will also pair well with items on Le Yaca’s menu.

French wines aren’t easy to drink by themselves because they’re not light and fruity, according to Brown.

“I think French wines are made to go with food,” Brown said in an interview. “These aren’t hot-tub sipping wines.”

Volunteers dressed in formal attire will serve wine and amuses-bouches, or “little bites,” to guests, according to Caldwell. Brown works with volunteers beforehand so they have background information about the wine, food-pairing recommendations and ordering information.

Brown’s specialty is finding wines for guests that can’t be bought off the shelf at a grocery store.

Avalon's wine tasting hosts approximately 200 Williamsburg residents at Le Yaca French Restaurant to taste selections chosen by Clement Brown, a sales representative at the Roanoke Valley Wine Company. At the tasting, guests can order any of the wines presented and a portion of the proceeds from those orders will go to Avalon. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Caldwell)
Avalon’s wine tasting hosts approximately 200 guests at Le Yaca French Restaurant. Guests can order any of the wines presented and a portion of the proceeds from those orders will go to Avalon. (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Caldwell)

“These wines offer a value because they are hand-crafted and come from generations of families that are passionate about their work,” Brown said.

The wine tasting will take place from 4-6 p.m. on May 20 and tickets are $75. Typically, this event sells out of the 200 available tickets fairly quickly, Caldwell said. Following the tasting, there is a chef’s dinner at 7 p.m. for approximately 25-30 people at $275 per ticket.

“At the end of the day, people want to know that they’re supporting an amazing cause and having fun while they do it,” Brown said.

Always be informed. Click here to get the latest news and information delivered to your inbox

Comments