Happiness By the Glass
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Happiness By the Glass

Alexandria will become wine country this May.

The old saying goes that May showers bring April flowers. But this year, May fundraisers will bring money to a host of nonprofit organizations and historic buildings. That’s right, you can tie one on for a good cause. Take your pick of any of these events — or several — and make sure to bring a designated driver.

Red, White and You at the Carlyle House

location: 121 North Fairfax St.

date: May 12

time: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

admission: $40 per person of $75 per couple

phone: 703-549-2997.

The Carlyle House is in the midst of an expensive makeover that will involve a new color scheme and a different layout. To raise funds for the project, the Friends of the Carlyle House are hosting “Red, White and You.” Guests will be able to sample a wide variety of Mondavi wines, including some of the Napa Valley winery’s rare reserve wines.

“We’re also trying to have an educational component,” said Mary Ruth Coleman, administrator of the Carlyle House Historic Park. “We’ll be talking about the use of alcoholic beverages, focusing on wine and punch.”

Costumed interpreters will greet visitors and demonstrate entertaining techniques from the past. In the house, guests will find a display of 18th-century wine glasses. On the Magnolia Terrace, visitors will be able to sample the wines, have a bite to eat or enjoy some live music.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Coleman said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Bishop Ireton Wine Tasting and Art Auction

location: 201 Cambridge Road

date: May 13

time: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

admission: $20

phone: 703-780-1852

This is the first year that Bishop Ireton has hosted a wine tasting, and organizers are hoping to raise money for new bleachers at the school. Hosted by the Bishop Ireton Athletic Booster Club, the fundraising wine tasting should defray part of the $250,000 cost of the bleachers, which will seat about 900 people.

“Our bleachers were going to be condemned if we didn’t take them down,” said Nancy Fife, a parent at Bishop Ireton who is helping to plan the event. “They were 41 years old, and we’re hoping to get the new bleachers in a couple of months.”

Guests can take a “wine quiz” while at the event, which will be hosted by Mark Phillips of the Wine Tasting Association. A live art auction will begin at 8 p.m., featuring art in all media and price ranges.

“We’re putting fun in fundraising,” Michele Hill, chairwoman of the auction. “Be sure to arrive with enough time to see all the artwork.”

An Evening in the Vineyard

location: 105 North Union St.

date: May 12

time: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

admission: $150

phone: 703-836-0214

This wine tasting and silent auction will raise money for the Child and Family Network Centers, a local nonprofit organization that was founded more than 20 years ago by a group of mothers living in a public-housing community. Today, it provides educational services to at-risk children and families.

“This is our sixth annual event,” said Kate Lyng, development assistant with Child and Family Network Centers. “This year’s theme is South Africa, so we’ll have various wines from South Africa and our menu will have a South African theme.”

An Evening in the Vineyard won’t actually take place in a vineyard. Instead, Child and Family Network Centers has secured a better location: the Torpedo Factory.

“The Torpedo Factory is such a great venue,” said Lyng. “And the money we raise will go toward program expenses for our eight centers in Alexandria and Arlington.”

A Toast to Spring

location: 118 N. Washington St.

date: May 18

time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

admission: $35

phone: 703-549-4407

This is the second year of Community Lodgings’ fundraising event at Christ Church — with Kendall-Jackson Wineries making a return appearance. Bobbette Schaefer, a Kendall-Jackson representative, will be on hand to present the wines and talk about the specific qualities of the wines and how they might be paired with food.

“The evening is very lovely,” said Bonnie Baxley, executive director of Community Lodgings. “We’re going to focus on wines that would complement summer dishes.”

Community Lodgings began in 1987 to help homeless people return to society. All proceeds from this event will go to support transitional programs for formerly homeless families, the Affordable Housing Program and the Summer Youth Program, which provides recreation and enrichment for Arlandria children.

“We’re not a hand out or a hand up,” Baxley said. “We’re trying to help people be successful in life.”

Mount Vernon Wine Festival

location: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway

dates: May 19 to 21

time: 6 to 9 p.m.

admission: $30

phone: 703-799-8659

George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation will become wine country for a glorious weekend in late May. Bring a blanket and enjoy an evening of live jazz, spectacular Potomac views and a dazzling array of Virginia wines. Washington himself will on hand for a chat. And don’t miss the opportunity to see the mansion cellar, which is rarely open to the public. A wide variety of concessions will be available, including menu items from the Mount Vernon Restaurant and Firehook Bakery.

A $22 wine-and-cheese box is available for advance purchase that includes fruit, cheese, summer sausage, crackers, wine biscuits Virginia peanuts. Private tables are available on the piazza for $750, with tables seating 12. Designated drivers will receive free soft drinks, and the Shops at Mount Vernon will be open until 9:30 p.m.

“Guests will be able to see the basement brick vault where Washington stored his wines,” said Melissa Wood, media relations associate at Mount Vernon. “This is one of the only times during the year when the estate is open during the evening, so you’ll be able to sit on the lawn and drink wine. And, let face it, Washington’s got one of the best backyards around.”

Toast to Alexandria

location: 8301 East Boulevard Drive

date: May 21

time: 4 p.m.

admission: $45

phone: 703-549-0111

The Toast to Alexandria is one of the Alexandria’s biggest social events of the year. Now in its 36th year, the Toast is an opportunity to enjoy some of the area’s finest food and beverages in a garden-party atmosphere at Collingwood on the Potomac. All proceeds benefit the Campagna Center, a nonprofit organization serving children and families in need.

“The longevity of this event is one indication of how great the Toast to Alexandria is,” said Heather Winner, assistant director of development for the Campagna Center. “We always have such a wonderful group of people attend.”

Guests will enjoy wines from Virginia Imports. Money raised at the event will support programs administered by the Campagna Center, which include pre-school for children from low-income families, before-and-after-school child care for elementary-school children, tutoring for children reading below grade level and senior volunteer programs.

“You’ll get to sample some of the area’s finest restaurants,” Winner said. “It’s a wonderful time, and it goes to a great cause.”