The restaurant industry and its workers continue to be one of the most impacted by COVID-19, as the pandemic keeps many dining establishments either closed or at limited capacity. Leading members of the wine and food community announced this morning that they have teamed up to organize a one-of-a-kind charity auction to help hospitality workers in need. Wine Spectator and Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, America's largest alcohol distributor, have partnered to create the Conscious Collection: A Virtual Fine Wine & Spirits Auction.
The April 9 charity auction, conducted by Zachys Auctions and hosted by Sonoma chef and TV personality Guy Fieri and Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, will offer wine lovers the chance to bid on exclusive wines and insider experiences with celebrity influencers along with a unique selection of rare wines, high-end spirits and luxury goods. Spearheading the charity effort are Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits CEO Wayne Chaplin and president, wine division Mel Dick.
The auction will be live-streamed on April 9 and will benefit The Barstool Fund, which will earmark contributions for restaurants and bars that have faced the brunt of shutdowns.
"I continue to be inspired by all the gestures we’ve seen from around the industry, and we truly appreciate all of those who have supported and continue to give back to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator. "This was the spirit behind The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation donation of $250,000 to José Andrés' World Central Kitchen and other hospitality organizations in 2020. There is still great need. This auction will make a huge impact on the many people in the hospitality industry who are struggling to stay afloat."
The more than 100 lots in the event include chances to visit great wine estates of the world, meet with vintners and celebrities and enjoy classic wines. Winning bidders can have dinner at Château Lafite Rothschild with proprietor Saskia de Rothschild and take home magnums of Château L’Évangile 2005 and Lafite Rothschild 2005, or enjoy a tour and lunch at Pétrus. Or how about dinner for 10 with Sting at Il Palagio, Sting and Trudie Styler’s summer home and winery in the Tuscan countryside? Another lot offers six rare vintages of Opus One in large format, while another offers Los Angeles Lakers box seats, a signed LeBron James jersey and a bottle of James’ Extra Añejo Lobos 1707 Tequila.
Fieri will serve as one of several hosts. His Restaurant Employee Relief Fund has raised more than $21.5 million for more than 43,000 restaurant workers in need. Joining him will be Portnoy, who has raised more than $36 million for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 through the Barstool Fund. Rounding out the team of hosts is Antonio Galloni, founder of Vinous. Making the auction possible is Zachys Auctions; the house will not be charging a buyer’s premium on any lots.
"Restaurants aren’t just places to eat and drink—they are the lifeline to millions of employees and families who rely on these businesses for their livelihoods," said Fieri. "These are still very desperate times for small businesses, and we have to keep working to support them and be there for them, like they’ve always been there for us."
For a complete and detailed list of auction items and to register to bid, please visit The Conscious Collection.
For 40 years, the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation has provided grants and scholarships to a variety of wine-related and culinary programs. To date, more than $20 million has been raised, made possible by the generosity of vintners around the world, who donate the wine for Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience Grand Tastings and seminars, as well as the thousands of wine lovers who attend the event each year.