The Emeril Lagasse Foundation's Carnivale du Vin Reimagined brought in big numbers, despite a difficult year for charity wine auctions. The 16th annual auction went virtual for the first time, and was live streamed via YouTube on Oct. 17. With over 300 supporters from around the country tuning in, and chef Emeril Lagasse and Foundation president Brian Kish hosting, the event was able to raise $1.04 million for children's charities. This year, a portion of the proceeds also went to wildfire relief efforts in Napa Valley.
"Carnivale du Vin was established as a way to celebrate incredible food, wine, fun and friendships, all in support of our mission to inspire, mentor and enable young people," said Lagasse, in a statement. "Even though we were not able to come together in person this year, my wife Alden and I are so grateful for all the donors, sponsors and supporters who joined our virtual event and helped make it a success."
The Carnivale weekend typically kicks off with Boudin, Bourbon and Beer, a night of great food from dozens of leading chefs, plus rare whiskeys. With large events on hold and the restaurant industry struggling, the Foundation asked supporters to donate instead to its new Hospitality Industry Relief Fund, launched in September, which benefits restaurant employees across the Gulf Coast by covering shelter, food, medical and utility bills. The program was established with a $125,000 contribution from the Foundation. A fundraising campaign has raised an additional $50,000 since then.
The live auction raised $382,000. Top wine lots from the event included a bottle of Mouton-Rothschild 1945, donated by chef and restaurateur Rick Moonen and his wife, Roni, which sold for $40,000. "Come Back to Napa Valley," the highest-selling lot of the night, included vineyard tours with sommeliers and winemakers in the heart of Yountville, along with a wine dinner prepared by celebrity chef Aarón Sanchéz. The donors doubled the lot, and two bidders paid $50,000 each for a total of $100,000.
Another top lot was "Emeril's Coastal Dinner with Danica Patrick," a multi-course dinner at Emeril's Coastal Italian, in Miramar Beach, Fla., with the retired racing champion and vintner.. Nine bidders each paid $3,000 for the opportunity, for a total of $27,000.
Although there were fewer live lots than last year's Carnivale du Vin, the number of wine lots was the same and proved crucial to the event's success, according to Lagasse's team. Even though travel lots are expected to be less popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carnivale du Vin decided to offer opportunities for bidders to support Napa and Sonoma in person.
"Like many other events throughout the country, we had to create new strategies to bring the magic of Carnivale du Vin to our guests at home," said Kish. "All those who support our foundation and annual signature fundraising events are helping to create brighter futures for our youth, and we are continuously thankful for the support and all who make our efforts possible."