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.
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.
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.
“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.