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Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Raises $1.6 Million

Bids and karma rise at Bollywood-themed charity auction

MaryAnn Worobiec
Posted: September 5, 2012

The vibrant decor matched the exuberance in the tent at Sunday’s Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, held at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood. The 35 live-auction lots, which included wine, food and travel packages, raised $730,000. It was the grand finale of the three-day Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which in total garnered $1.6 million, up more than $350,000 from last year. The event benefits local charities. (Wine Spectator was one of several sponsors of the auction.)

The theme was Sonoma Shambala, which brought a Bollywood-inspired bazaar vibe to this year’s festivities. Many attendees dressed the part, with plenty of women in colorful, sparkly saris and men wearing traditional sherwani coats. Marigold garlands, henna tattoo artists and fragrant spices were on display. Local restaurateurs took on the challenge of creating India-inspired dishes that would pair well with Sonoma wines, including saffron-roasted cauliflower served with chutney and braised lamb with a curry vinaigrette.

The largest-grossing lot of the day was “Fund-a-Need," for which local children came on stage to appeal to bidders, who raised their paddles to the tune of more than $250,000 for two Sonoma Boys & Girls Clubs.

Two noteworthy lots sold for $25,000. The first was the Magnum Force lot, a 67-bottle collection of magnums that included bottlings from Buena Vista, Cline, Gloria Ferrer, Ram’s Gate and Sebastiani. As it is traditionally presented, the Magnum Force lot was introduced by the Ladies of Magnum Force, this time a group of sari-clad Sonoma vintners that presented a choreographed Bollywood-style dance to much enthusiasm. Rick Miron of TricorBraun WinePak won the lot. Also going for $25,000 was a Kosta Browne lot, which included travel for six to New Orleans for Carnivale du Vin and magnums of Pinot Noir, which was purchased by Terri and Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants.

Star power drove the bidding for two lots, with local vintner-turned-Bachelor Ben Flajnik contributing Envolve Winery’s lot, which treated six guests to a Sonoma weekend (it sold for $3,200), and a lot from Ram’s Gate Winery that included a day of race car driving with Patrick Dempsey, better known as McDreamy of Grey’s Anatomy fame ($20,000).

This was the 20th annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, which is always a spirited event focused around themes; previous auctions were inspired by Las Vegas, the Beatles, circuses and even outer-space exploration. This is the fifth year that the auction was part of the larger Sonoma Wine County Weekend, which pairs the auction with winery lunches, barbecues and dinner parties.

The largest gathering took place on Saturday, when 2,500 wine lovers attended the Taste of Sonoma event at MacMurray Ranch. Hundreds of wineries and dozens of local restaurants poured wine and served various flavors of Sonoma. John Ash & Co. served house-made lamb pastrami and sauerkraut on rye rolls, and a line formed for Hana Japanese Restaurant’s spicy tuna hand rolls. A dazzling selection of wines was poured, showcasing Sonoma’s versatility, with everything from crisp sparklers from J Vineyards and Winery and Gloria Ferrer to rich Pinot Noirs from Three Sticks and Landmark to Zinfandels from Ravenswood and Novy.

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