Atlanta's art scene received a $3.1 million boost from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction in March. The 30th annual event raised its largest total ever for the High Museum's exhibition and education programs after hosting 2,500 people for a weekend of festivities. The event continues to be one of the top charity wine auctions benefiting the arts in the U.S.
The live auction, held March 26 under big tents at Atlantic Station, brought in 870 guests and $1.1 million in live bids. High Museum had to cancel their 2020 auction and go virtual in 2021. Steven Hargrove, associate director of wine auction and special events, says the highlight of the event was being back in person.
High-selling lots included a three-hour wine tasting with retired members of the Atlanta Braves, which sold multiple times for a total of $122,000, a party for 25 couples co-hosted by Michael Cruse of Cruse Wine Co. and Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards, which sold for $52,500, and a 53-bottle collection of California's Sine Qua Non spanning the 2018 to 2009 vintages, which brought in $26,000. Several other wineries donated parts of auction lots, including Schrader Cellars, Continuum Estate, Au Bon Climat and Burgess Cellars.
Vintner Paula Kornell, the auction's 2022 special guest of honor, also donated a lot, which sold for $105,000. It consisted of a 20-person Southern fried chicken feast paired with her West Coast sparkling wines.
In the past 30 years, High Museum has raised more $33 million for the museum's programs. Hargrove, who joined the museum in 2016, says the success of a wine auction depends on a diversity of lots. "[The key is a] good variety of trips to different locales around the world and in the U.S., along with various wine-only lots and experiences," he told Wine Spectator. "And a variety of price points so everyone feels like they can be involved."
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