Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction Shatters Previous Record Doubling Last Year’s Income to Raise Over $1.4 Million

(Sonoma County, CALIF.) — With a mood under the tent that combined intense excitement with a generous community spirit, over $1.4 million was raised at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak on Sunday, September 1, more than doubling the auction’s income from 2012 and shattering all previous auction records. Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which includes the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, is presented by Visa Signature®. The Weekend is Sonoma County’s top charitable fundraising event, held annually over Labor Day Weekend.

The sizzling Brazilian theme of Sonoma Samba welcomed auction goers to the Grand Lawn of Chateau St. Jean which was transformed into a Pan-Latin Celebration, where 600 people gathered to enjoy the flavors of Sonoma while raising the record-breaking funds so vital for a multitude of Sonoma County charities. Auctioneer David Reynolds urged bidders to bid, and bid high, while competing for the 35 extraordinary and hotly-contested lots ranging from highly-sought wines to priceless adventures and bucket-list experiences scheduled to take place around the world.

The largest grossing auction lot of the day was the first annual “Fund the Future” presented by Kaiser Permanente. Proceeds raised through “Fund the Future” will support childhood literacy and key reading programs in a multi-year initiative that addresses the fact that more than half of Sonoma County third-graders currently read below grade level. The lot, the highest grossing lot ever in the 21-year history of the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, raised $691,250 which will be divided between the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation’s Summer Reading Academy, Schools of Hope (United Way of the Wine Country) and Pasitos Playgroups (Community Action Partnership).

Children that participate in reading programs wove through the auction crowd to the tune of “ABC” by The Jackson 5 before gathering on stage for the “Fund the Future” lot which provided one of the most poignant moments of the day. Oscar Chavez, a leading supporter of Sonoma County’s literacy programs, motivated the crowd to raise their paddles when he spoke of his own story as a young boy, and how learning to read led him to succeed.

There was a tremendous show of solidarity within the wine community, and it was touching to witness the Gallo Family, along with the Jackson Family, Joe Anderson, Tom Klein and many others, immediately donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to “Fund the Future.” These Sonoma County vintners were the first to pledge: Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery, the Gallo Family and Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines each donating $75,000, followed by Tom Klein, owner of Rodney Strong Wine Estates, who made a $150,000 commitment with a $50,000 bid toward the initiative each year for this and the next two years.

Under the focused leadership and commitment of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Co-Producers Honore Comfort (Sonoma County Vintners) and Maureen Cottingham (Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance), in addition to more than doubling the results of last year’s Auction, gross proceeds are expected to be in excess of $2.5 million for the entire Sonoma Wine Country Weekend once final tallies are calculated, another new record for the event asearnings increased by more than $1 million over last year.

“We made history in Sonoma County today. Along with our vintners and grapegrowers, it took the leadership of our three honorary chairs, the Gallo Family, Phil Coturri and Sondra Bernstein who led our community this year, to support our kids and our county,” said Cottingham, “Our wine community pulled out the stops to showcase the wine, food and community of Sonoma County this weekend, and that resulted in our record-breaking success.”

“Today was a celebration for the entire county. It was an inspiration to all of our vintners and growers in the wine industry, and a step in the right direction for the future of our children in Sonoma County,” added Comfort. “The success of this weekend was a result of the entire Sonoma County wine and grower community coming together with tremendous support. They made it happen.”

Top lots of the day included the Gallo Family and MacMurray Ranch Barn Dance BBQ lot that sold for $125,000; the Buena Vista / Deloach and Boisset Family Wines Thermador Kitchen and Dinner Party with Jean-Charles Boisset lot that sold for $55,000; the Kosta Browne World Cup Soccer Trip to Brazil lot that sold for $48,000; the Ram’s Gate Trip to Scotland lot that sold for $40,000; and the Men in the Moon lot with Phil Coturri and Robert Kamen that sold for $35,000. The ever popular Magnum Force lot which celebrated its tenth appearance at the auction, always features high-profile female vintners, winemakers and wine business executives who this year danced the Samba. The lot sold for $32,000 to Rick and Lori Miron of TricorBraun WinePak.

While bidders raised their paddles, attendees seated at large round tables lavishly decorated to match the Samba theme enjoyed a Brazilian-inspired menu coordinated by Honorary Culinary Chair, Sondra Bernstein and Culinary Director Bruce Riezenman of Park Avenue Catering, and prepared from locally-grown ingredients by 15 top chefs from across Sonoma County.

For those who could not attend the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, yet would still like to participate in the charitable effort, an online auction of additional  lots, including many of Sonoma County’s finest large format wine bottles and exclusive experiences, is open for bidding through September 6, 2013 at http://www.biddingforgood.com/sonomawinecountryweekend

Produced in partnership by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and the Sonoma County Vintners, the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend presented by Visa Signature features Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®, Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and an assortment of intimate and exclusive winery lunch and dinner parties at multiple locations throughout Sonoma County.  Sonoma Wine Country Weekend has become the region’s largest and most fun charity event, celebrating the vintner, grower, and food communities while raising needed funds to improve children’s lives and literacy for a better future. More than 400 volunteers from across Sonoma County generously worked throughout the holiday weekend to make the event possible.

For more information visit www.SonomaWineCountryWeekend.com, call (855) 939-7666, like it on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winecountryweekend and follow on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SonomaWCW.

About 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sponsors and Beneficiaries

A partnership between Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is California’s premier wine, food and social event, taking place on Labor Day weekend each year. Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s wine community supports the Sonoma County economy, regional wine marketing efforts, and invests in the future of the region by supporting worthy charities that improve quality of life at the present and for generations to come. The events comprising Sonoma Wine Country Weekend have raised nearly $13 million to assist local charities that support youth and children to ensure their success, preserve the environment for future generations, and improve the health and welfare of local communities.  The 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is presented by Visa Signature®. For a complete list of beneficiaries and sponsors, please visit www.SonomaWineCountryWeekend.com.

About 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Presenting Sponsor Visa Signature

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is presented by Visa Signature. Visa Signature, Visa’s premium credit offering, provides account holders with benefits and perks that offer special access and provide everyday value to enhance account holder experiences.  In addition to points, miles, cash back or other premium rewards offered by Visa Signature partners, account holders enjoy perks such as 24/7 complimentary concierge services, the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection and exclusive offers for fine wine and food, travel, and sports and entertainment events. For more information on Visa Signature visit www.visasignature.com.

About MacMurray Ranch

Nestled in the heart of the Russian River Valley, the historic MacMurray Ranch is home to award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. MacMurray Ranch Winemaker Chris Munsell crafts a collection of elegant, expressive wines from cool-climate vineyards in California and Oregon, reflecting a passion for the special places that create extraordinary grapes. Kate MacMurray, daughter of Hollywood legend Fred MacMurray, remains deeply connected to MacMurray Ranch, carrying on the legacy of this iconic Sonoma landmark. Learn more at www.macmurrayranch.com.    

About Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis puts it best, saying the winery is, “A wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.” Francis Ford Coppola Winery is located at 300 Via Archimedes in Geyserville, California, accessed from US HWY 101 and the INDEPENDENCE LANE exit. Among the many unique attractions at the property, Francis Ford Coppola Winery features wine tasting, two restaurants, a swimming pool, a movie gallery, a performing arts Pavilion and a park area with game tables and bocce courts. Francis Ford Coppola Winery opens at 11 a.m. daily. For more information, call (707) 857-1400, toll free (877) 590-3329 or visit www.FrancisCoppolaWinery.com

About Chateau St. Jean

Founded in 1973 in the Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean is the quintessential Sonoma winery.  Chateau St. Jean produces an extensive portfolio of Sonoma County wines as well as vineyard designated wines, limited production Reserve wines, and the flagship Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren, who was named “Winemaker of the Year” for 2008 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, has been with Chateau St. Jean for over 30 years. Chateau St. Jean is the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award from Wine Spectator Magazine for its 1996 Cinq Cépages, a Bordeaux style blend of “five varieties” and has long been recognized as a leader in vineyard designated wines. For more visit www.chateaustjean.com.  

About Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners

The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA) is a non-profit trade organization serving over 500 members who share a mission to promote awareness of Sonoma Valley’s grapes, wine, and history as the birthplace of the California wine industry. The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation (SVVGF) is a non-profit 501c.3 organization that has raised over $8,000,000 for local Sonoma Valley charities. For more information on the SVVGA and SVVGF, please visit www.SonomaValleyWine.com.

Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions, noted for its heritage of artisan winemaking, distinct growing regions, and extraordinary quality. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 200 wineries and affiliated businesses throughout the county. Learn more about SCV at www.SonomaWine.com.

Journalists: High-resolution artwork is immediately available. For more information, to speak with an event representative or to inquire about press credentials for the 2014 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend please email or call Lisa Adams Walter at lisa@adamswalter.com or (707) 255-0300.

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