Rusty Staub earned a reputation as a clutch hitter and slugger during 23 years in Major League Baseball. And for the past 25 years, he has combined his love of wine with his passion for helping kids in need with the Rusty Staub Foundation and its annual wine auction dinner.
This year's event, held Oct. 19, proved the legacy is still going strong as the auction earned $1,524,350 in live bids. It’s a jump of more than $160,000 from last year’s $1.36 million, a total which earned the No. 9 spot in Wine Spectator’s Top 10 U.S. Charity Wine Auctions of 2015.
This year's event began with guests scanning the bidding catalog between sips of grand cru Burgundies including Chevalier-Montrachet and Corton Charlemagne at Maloney & Porcelli, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurant in New York.
While many charity wine auctions are drawing large bids by offering “wine experience packages” that offer winery tours or vacation getaways, the Staub Foundation has continued to focus on wine lots, particularly Burgundy, which has long been Staub's favorite. “As our program has grown over the years, virtually all of our lots are strictly wine,” said Michael Troise, the foundation's director, who has worked with Staub since the auction's start.
This year's sale offered a bevy of large-format bottles. An 18-bottle lot—six magnums each of Armand Rousseau Chambertin, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze and Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques, all from 2014—earned $62,000. Four methuselahs of Domaine Dujac 2014 brought in $50,000, featuring labels Bonnes Mares, Clos de la Roche, Clos St.-Denis and Echézeaux.
There was one wine experience lot that stood out, however. As a special celebration of the event’s 25th anniversary, lot No. 300 offered a week of California wine experiences for two lucky couples, as winemakers from Staglin Family Vineyard, Harbison Estate Wines, Switchback Ridge and others pitched in to provide a tour of Napa Valley.
Since Staub started the foundation, it has donated almost $20 million to children in the New York City area through the Rusty Staub Emergency Food Pantry and local charities. “Of course we enjoy the camaraderie of being with our longtime friends and supporters on this special evening every year,” said Troise. But “helping to feed the hungry and the homeless is what warms our hearts the most.”