Black Tie Bottaia raises critical funds for Rancho Damacitas

Julie Ngo, the chair of Rancho Damacitas Children and Family Services board, addresses the crowd assembled for the Black Tie Bottaia event at Bottaia Winery Tuesday, Aug. 27. Jeff Pack photo

More than 100 people donned their finest to attend Black Tie Bottaia, a fundraising dinner to support the efforts of Rancho Damacitas Children and Family Services Tuesday, Aug. 27, hosted by Ponte Winery at Bottaia Winery in Temecula Wine Country.

“This is absolutely amazing,” Cal Winslow, CEO for Rancho Damacitas, said. “It’s a lifetime event; it really is. There’s a lot of new wineries being built, but to have the experience of trying one out right at the very beginning and to have a beautiful night like this – it’s a gorgeous setting.”

Ponte Winery and Bottaia Winery provided a five-course, wine-paired dinner for every ticketholder that included a butter lettuce salad with Bottaia’s 2017 Verdicchino; a diver scallop with black lentils paired with a 2014 Barbera; a cucumber and gooseberry granita for intermezzo; a filet mignon and potato ragu paired with a 2017 Sangiovese and strawberry shortcake paired with a 2017 Toppano.

The dinner was held on Bottaia’s Club Terrace as the sun went down.

“We’re just grateful that (Ponte and Bottaia) are generous enough to make this available and help us out because it’s so important,” Winslow said. “That saying, ‘It takes a village.’ Well, it does take a village to do some of the things we’re doing with the young families and the moms over at Rancho Damacitas and we’re just really grateful.”

Julie Ngo, the chair for Rancho Damacitas Children and Family Services board of directors, came up with the idea to create an elevated event that would serve as the ultimate fundraising event for the nonprofit.

“I wanted to do a different type of fundraiser,” Ngo said. “I wanted to up the game a little bit; I wanted to incorporate elements that people never see. The Temecula Valley Players, Temecula Valley Symphony, a beautiful venue and then just … people.”

At that point, she said, she wasn’t sure where it was going to be held.

“Bottaia stepped in and said, ‘We’ll take over. We will host the event. We will take care of everything, every dime, every ticket you sell will go back to Rancho Damacitas,” Ngo said.

According to Ngo, Ponte Winery and Bottaia Winery donated more than $40,000 in food, wine and services for the event.

“We’ve been involved with Rancho Damacitas for 10 years, we do a couple of events a year, this being our formal event,” Michael Martin, chief operating officer of Ponte, Hawks View and Bottaia wineries, said. “We looked at multiple charities throughout the years. We actually got together as a group years ago and decided the one thing we wanted to do was support local children and the advancement of children. That’s very important to the Ponte family. So, that’s why Rancho Damacitas stood out.”

During the course of the evening, close to $100,000 was raised for Rancho Damacitas’ Empowerment Village.

“The more we get people to understand the kids and the moms,” Ngo said. “When you build a strong parent, a strong mom, you build strong children. I always say between Empowerment Village with moms and their children and Project Independence with aged-out foster kids, and then you go to Enrichment Fund for current foster kids, and then you go to the New Heights Educational Scholarship … I mean, it’s a cycle that we’re trying to break. Start at the foundation – get these moms strong, get these kids strong and break the cycle of foster care and abuse and all of these things that they’re facing.

“They don’t have a choice in life and we’re going to give them a choice,” she said.

Ngo thanked Temecula Valley Players and Temecula Valley Symphony for answering her call for help and the community for coming out to support.

“I mean, look at this,” Ngo said. “Look at this community. They all came out here to support. The ticket prices weren’t cheap, but yet they came out because they know it’s going to go to good, a great cause.”

For more information about Rancho Damacitas Children and Family Services, visit

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at