Philanthropy can make for interesting partnerships, and one of the most intriguing is that between wealthy wine lovers in Newport Beach and The Wooden Floor dance and education program in Santa Ana. The Wooden Floor has served 75,000 low-income youth since its inception 30 years ago and is proud of its strong graduation track record; 100% of its senior class enrolled in higher education for the ninth consecutive year.
Local wine connoisseur John Markley created the Keep the Promise event, one of the top wine-tasting events in Orange County this year will take place September 26, to benefit Wooden Floor’s year-round dance, academic and family service programs offered at no cost to 375 low-income youth annually. Markley helped The Wooden Floor take the once low-key event that brought in $35,000 its first year to one that has managed to collectively fundraise over $600,000.
A little over 40 years ago, the Detroit-born Markley left Michigan for California in a used Oldsmobile with everything he owned in the back seat and $300 in his pocket in hopes of making it big.
He was 24, and his last job was as the head of gift wrapping at The Big Store in Michigan. He landed a job at Union Bank, and was soon swapping assets for debt as a result of the real estate slump at the time. He was living the life of a jetsetter, finding himself in a new city every few days.
It was during this time that Markley discovered good restaurants – and most importantly, the love of wine. After leaving Union Bank and having held senior positions at the William Lyon Company and Pacific Bay Homes in Newport Beach, Markley found his true calling: helping Santa Ana youth and introducing OC wine drinkers to top-rated, rare, exquisite wines from across the world.
This year, over 300 Keep the Promise event attendees are expected to sip and savor rare, top-rated wines from the top wine-producing areas of the world. All 14 featured red and white wines – generously collected and donated by Janice and John Markley – are rated at least 94 points and above by the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. Tickets are $350.