The Heart’s Delight Charity Wine Auction came two months earlier this year, but the excitement still boomed as new and old faces gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the event's 20th anniversary. Held March 6–9, the 2019 event raised $1.3 million for the American Heart Association, a 13 percent dip from 2018's results, bringing the total amount raised to more than $19 million since the auction's inception in 1999.
"The amount of time that we had for fundraising and to get people excited about the event was condensed," Brian Kearney, executive committee member, told Wine Spectator. "But the 20th anniversary offset that, and people that maybe don't come every year showed up. The friendships that people have built over the years have been amazing."
A standout of the extravaganza was Saturday's grand tasting and live auction, said Kearney. The live auction brought in more than $400,000, thanks in part to high-earning wine lots such as a double magnum of Château Pontet-Canet 2010 that sold for $30,000 and double magnums of Château Angélus 2015 and 2012 that raised $25,000. A lot of 1999 Burgundies—commemorating the event's 20th anniversary—raised $22,000.
Want to get the latest news on collectible wines and the auction market? Sign up for Wine Spectator's free Collecting e-mail newsletter and get a new top-rated wine review, collecting Q&As and more, delivered straight to your inbox every other week!
"I have no doubt that it was the largest turnout that we've had for a Saturday night event," Kearney said. "All of the large-format [wine lots] did better than they usually do."
The remaining events throughout the four days included the Congress Has Heart reception, showcasing top American producers including Turley and Domaine Drouhin, followed by dinners hosted by embassy members and winemakers and a vintners dinner and auction that spotlighted Angélus. Saturday's Bordeaux master class, with a 2016 vintage tasting from 15 Châteaux including Châteaus Beychevelle and Guiraud, built the momentum for the evening's live auction.
The pulse of Heart's Delight continues to be its participating wineries and chefs, including Amy Brandwein of Centrolina and Akshay Bhardwaj of Junoon. This year saw the highest number of wineries participate; newcomers included Napa's Elyse.
"We've already heard tons of people say, 'We’re coming back next year; we want to do more,'" said Kearney. "I think this was a great springboard for the next year."