Tomorrow, Winebid.com will kick off the bidding on more than 100 wine lots -- plus another 40 "superlot" combinations of wine, food and travel -- to benefit California wine writer Ronn Wiegand and his family, who were seriously injured in a car accident in November 1999.
To help cover the family's substantial expenses, the wine industry has pulled together to donate rare bottlings, dining experiences and vacation excursions not available anywhere else. Winebid.com will host the Wiegand Family Benefit Auction at www.winebid.com from Jan. 20 through Feb. 6.
Among the lots up for bid are a trip for two to New Zealand with winery visits set up by the Wine Institute of New Zealand; a dinner for 10 at Chez Panisse hosted by Robert and Margrit Mondavi, who will bring a selection of Mondavi's library and reserve wines; and a weekend in the Russian River Valley hosted by a group of wineries, which are also contributing a wide collection of wines.
Beringer Wine Estates is offering a tour of Napa and Sonoma for six people, along with a collection of large-format bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from each of six Beringer wineries. Columbia Winery has organized a weekend in Washington at Salish Lodge, including dinner with winemaker David Lake and a 10-year vertical tasting of Columbia's Red Willow Vineyard Syrah. Champagne Mumm contributed a visit to Reims, France, along with a vertical of Mumm Cuvee Napa DVX, and Port producer George Sandeman will host a trip for two to Portugal's Douro Valley.
Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken has donated a package that includes two tickets to the California Wine Experience, to be held in New York this fall. Also, Wine Spectator columnist Matt Kramer has volunteered to take four guests out to dinner in San Francisco and bring some of his favorite wines from his private cellar.
Wiegand -- who is accredited as both a Master of Wine and a Master Sommelier -- and his wife, Brenda Boblitt, have published the industry newsletter "Restaurant Wine" for the past 10 years.
Following the accident, Wiegand underwent hip reconstruction surgery and now needs a lengthy rehabilitation period before he can get around without a wheelchair or crutches. Boblitt, who required surgery on her broken back, remains hospitalized. Her doctors hope she may be able to return home within two months, but she will need in-home care. The couple's 15-year-old twin sons -- Ehren, who broke a hip, and Hubert, who separated his shoulder -- recovered more quickly and returned to school last year.
In conjunction with the online auction, Wine Spectator is underwriting a fund-raising dinner and live auction on Feb. 4 in St. Helena, Calif., at the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone Barrel Room. The CIA chefs will create a special menu for the event, and many wineries have donated wines for tasting. Auctioneer Fritz Hatton will oversee the bidding.
Only about 100 seats are left for The Ronn Wiegand Family Dinner and Wine Auction. Tickets are $250 per person, and all proceeds will go to the Wiegand family. To purchase tickets, call Balzac Communications at (800) 709-7667 or send payment to Balzac at 1200 Jefferson Street, Napa, Calif. 94559.
Monetary donations can also be made directly to the Wiegand Family Fund, c/o Bank of the West, 3300 Jefferson St., Napa, Calif. 94558. The account number is 094268174.
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