2012 Sonoma Valley Wine Auction Breaks Records

The annual wine-and-food event celebrated its 20th anniversary by raising $730,000 for local charities.


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Often a light-hearted affair, the 2012 Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction celebrated its 20th anniversary over the weekend and raised a record-breaking $730,000, up $130,000 from last year.

Approximately 550 guests attended the Sunday afternoon auction at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood—a venue decorated in a Bollywood theme that perfectly showcased Sonoma County’s harvest-time beauty, with surrounding vines dripping with grapes.

The weekend-long event, organized by the Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation, promotes the county's wine and food while raising money for local charities. This year, one of the 35 luxurious auction lots—the “Fund-a-Need” lot for Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley and Central Sonoma County—broke records by raising a record-breaking $252,000.

Other top lots included a private costume ball at Buena Vista Winery, which owner Jean-Charles Boisset generously matched for a total of $20,000. That was quickly outdone by Boisset’s wife, Gina Gallo, at her exclusive party at MacMurray Ranch lot, where 31 couples bid, bringing the final sale to $31,000. The Gallo family matched the bid, bumping up the overall amount to a whopping $62,000.

Other big-money items included a trip to New Orleans and the Carnivale du Vin with Dan Kosta and Michael Brown of Kosta Browne Winery, with the $25,000 winning bid coming from Sonoma County restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark. Another $25,000 went for Magnum Force, a 76-bottle collection of regional wines, won by Rick Miron of TricorBraun Winepak, the auction’s leading sponsor.

Close on its heels was the lot to tour Laguna Seca raceway with Dempsey Racing and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey, which included a 20-person dinner party at Ram’s Gate Winery. The winner—a local interior designer Barbara Pascoe, who co-owns Barbed Oak Vineyard with her husband Edmond in Sonoma’s Bennett Valley—bid $22,000 after auctioneer David Reynolds prodding the crowd to “take a spin with McDreamy.”

The auction was a successful conclusion to a weekend full of winemaker lunches and dinners, including a new event, the Sonoma Starlight Supper Club dinner, held Friday night at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville; and the annual Taste of Sonoma, held Saturday at MacMurray Ranch, which drew 1,200 people. The three-day annual event grossed a total of $1.65 million.

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