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Annual CF Charity Wine Event Breaks Million-Dollar Mark

James Molesworth
Posted: May 22, 2001

The streets of New York are always crowded. But this past Saturday, they were lined with more than 50 California wine producers pouring their wines alongside the food of 30-plus chefs from across the country. No, Mayor Rudy Giuliani didn't suddenly become a warm-hearted foodie. These streets were actually the "Streets of New York" set at Paramount Studios, in Hollywood, Calif., which hosts the annual Culinary Evening With the California Winemasters to Benefit Cystic Fibrosis.

Now in its 12th year, the event has become one of the premier charity wine auctions in the country. This year it cracked the $1 million mark, raising $1,012,824 and breaking the event's previous record of $840,000 set just last year. Of that amount raised, 91 percent goes directly to fund research, care and education programs in the fight against cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis, which is found in about one in 2,000 live births per year, is fatal, but the mean life expectancy for those with the disease has grown to 32.2 years in the last decade, thanks in part to the fund-raising efforts of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "To finally break that million-dollar mark is a real achievement for us," said Barbara Balik, director of major gifts for CF, who has worked on the event for all 12 years.

This year, the evening featured more than 700 silent auction lots, with a wide range of choices. Guests could stroll along the set as they bid on wines from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and South America lined up alongside numerous food and travel packages.

Auctioneers Ann Colgin, Bob Cranston and Dawn Katsonis led a spirited crowd in bidding for an additional 52 lots in a live auction later in the evening. Highlights included a 6-liter bottle of Château Haut-Brion 1998, signed by winemaker Jean-Bernard Delmas, which sold for $4,500, and a magnum of Screaming Eagle 1997, which fetched $9,000. Dinner for 10 with actor/comedian Robin Williams -- always one of the auction's most hotly contested lots -- netted $28,000.

As for the food being served, a collection of the nation's best chefs -- Thomas Keller, Erik Blauberg, Cal Stamenov and others -- served up a plethora of choices. To accompany their meals, guests could enjoy wines from longtime event participants such as Ravenswood, Etude and Livingston-Moffett, as well as from newcomers such as Downing Family Vineyards. With all the Cabernet, Zinfandel and Chardonnay lined up next to tables of foie gras, truffles and duck confit, New York never smelled so good.

Ravenswood founder and winemaker Joel Peterson, in between pouring barrel samples of his '99 Monte Rosso and Teldeschi Zinfandels, summed it up best: "It's a good event. It's well run, it's fun, and there are lots of good auction lots. What else do you need?"

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Read about last year's event:

  • Sept. 15, 2000
    California Wineries Help Raise Money for Cystic Fibrosis
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