Arty night under the stars

The setting was right out of Napa Valley — four acres of grape vines spread out in trellis rows down a rolling hill beneath an exquisite winery with a tasting room in a European farm design.

This intimate, seated dinner catered by Southern Sweets was the very special benefit for the Shelby County Arts Council (SCAC) held Oct. 11 at the Ozan Winery in Calera.

The Patrick family — Shelby, Roger and son Burt — began planting grapes in 2001 to develop a brand of fine wines in Alabama. By 2005 “Ozan Vineyard and Cellars” began producing wine from grapes grown on the estate. In ancient Turkey, the “Ozan” was the entertainer of the day where wine was often present.

The Ozan Winery already has gained a reputation for a series of events held in combination with the Heart of Dixie Railroad. In October there were lunches at Ozan followed by train rides. The Pumpkin Patch Express stops at Ozan and weddings are often held at the beautiful venue. So, it was a natural transition for Burt Patrick to offer his Ozan Winery for a benefit, which began last year, for the SCAC.

The SCAC, led by Terri Sullivan and her incredible board, is a treasure to Shelby County in so many ways. It has brought the Alabama Symphony to Montevallo for the public and 1,600 students to enjoy. It has developed the “Take Back our Kids” art program for children at the Juvenile Detention Center through a grant from CAWACO. It has programs for senior citizens, art classes at three Shelby County schools for children with special needs: physical, mental, and autistic. At Chelsea High School, the SCAC teaches a self-contained class for mentally and physically challenged teenagers. It gives workshops in the schools with visiting artists, poets, and musicians. The SCAC has two summer theater workshops and has traditional art, pottery and music classes at the gallery on Mildred Street. It provides scholarships to those children who cannot afford the classes. And last, but not least, hosts “Girls Night Out” events on regular basis to get women to tap into their creative sides.

The Ozan benefit raised $2000 for the SCAC, which will be used for operating expenses of the Mildred Street facility such as utilities and office supplies.