Sonoma Valley Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 3:58 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 3:58 a.m.
If you want some good karma, go to the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction this Sunday and raise your paddle OFTEN.
The theme of this Sunday's Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, now in its 20th year, is "Bollywood Spectacle Meets Sonoma Wine Country Splendor."
Organizers plan to immerse guests in the intrigue of India with a bustling bazaar at the event's new location, Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood. There will even be a silk-swathed spice lounge to linger in before the auction begins at 1 p.m.
Vintners will no doubt give their Bollywood-best performances at what has come to be known as the zaniest of auctions. It is customary to start with a skit.
This is the fifth year the auction has been part of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which also features the Taste of Sonoma at Healdsburg's MacMurray Ranch this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a new Sonoma Starlight Supper Club dinner Friday at Francis Ford Coppola winery in Geyserville.
"By uniting the efforts of the Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance, we have been able to elevate the entire experience and broaden the view of all of Sonoma County's regions. But most importantly we have together been able to raise more than $11 million that has been distributed to many critical Sonoma County charities and non-profits," said Honore Comfort, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend co-director.
While coordinating efforts has been a logistical challenge, organizers said packaging the events into one weekend has been a smart move.
"By teaming up to showcase the entire county, the event has grown in scope and gained increased attention throughout the country," said Maureen Cottingham, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend co-director.
For the past several years the auction was at Cline Cellars in Sonoma, but organizers picked Chateau St. Jean this year to offer guests a wider lens of Sonoma County.
"We offer a broad range of events planned throughout the county that expose guests to as many of the diverse regions of Sonoma as possible while they are here," Comfort said.
Organizers said the numbers of guests is expected to hold steady from last year, with a total of 550 expected at the auction and 2,500 at the Taste of Sonoma.
"We expect both events to sell out as they did last year, possibly even sooner than last year," Comfort said.
Every year the auction has a winery co-chair and a grower co-chair, and this year honors go to Margo and Don Van Staaveren for the winery Chateau St. Jean and the Robert Young Family for its role as grower.
Organizers said the Robert Young Family was tapped because it has farmed the same land in Alexander Valley for more than 150 years, spanning six generations. For more than 100 years, prunes and livestock sustained the family enterprise, but in 1963 Robert Young recognized that the land was better suited to grow wine grapes and pioneered the planting of cabernet sauvignon in Alexander Valley. The family has been a grower for Chateau St. Jean for many years.
"We are especially delighted to share this honor with Margo and Don Van Staaveren as winery co-chairs, given our long-standing relationship with them and Chateau St Jean Winery," said Jim Young of Robert Young Vineyards.
Here's a glimpse at some of the hottest auction lots from the pool of 35 that are expected to draw spiraling bids:
o "Race Like a Rama with Ram's Gate Winery and Patrick Dempsey." This lot features a Northern California helicopter tour that includes a pass beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and a flight over Monterey Bay before landing at Laguna Seca Raceway. For the celebrity-minded, the lot also offers a chance to spend time with television, film and racing star Patrick Dempsey. (Dempsey is best known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd -- "McDreamy" -- on the ABC medical drama "Grey's Anatomy.") Yet another perk: Ram's Gate vineyard designate wines will be served during a private dinner party at the winery.
o "Namaste the Chateau St Jean Way: Grand 20th Anniversary of Cinq Cépages." This lot features a private winery tasting with winemaker Margo Van Staaveren and the chance to enjoy a selection of many of her favorite past vintages of Cinq Cépages. The winner will be invited to the 20th Anniversary Release Party for the 2009 Cinq Cépages and receive 20 etched magnums (1.5-liter bottles) of the 20th anniversary release of this iconic wine. The winery made headlines in 1999 when the Chateau St. Jean 1996 Cinq Cépages snagged the top spot as the Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" in the magazine's annual list of "Top 100 Wines."
o "A Culinary Adventure like Naan Other, with Robert Young Estate Winery." The gourmand's getaway features a stay at Robert Young Estate's historic ranch house for four that includes a private cave tour and tasting at the winery, a garden tour and lunch. There's also a Friday night Family Winemaker Dinner party with the Robert Young family. Saturday, guests will tour the Healdsburg farmers market, after which guests will have a hands-on cooking class.
o "Slumdog Extraordinaire: An Evening of Storytelling with Our Founding Vintners." This lot features a private dinner and a slice of Sonoma history. The winner and guests will join the founding vintners of the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction for a dinner donated by Chef Sondra Bernstein of The Girl & the Fig restaurant, at Beltane Ranch. The historic Beltane Ranch is a bed & breakfast in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The lot also offers a collection of 20 magnums from the original vintners.
For those who can't make the auction but want to participate in bidding, the online portion of the auction is open for bidding through Sept. 7 and here's the link: http://www.biddingforgood.com/sonomawinecountryweekend.
For those who simply want to reminisce, here's a link to all 20 posters from two decades of auctions. http://pinterest.com/swcw/auction-poster-archive/
You can reach Staff Writer Peg Melnik at 521-5310 or email@example.com.
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