High energy, enticing sales lots and high hopes for the harvest drove up bidding Sunday afternoon at the 20th annual Sonoma Valley Wine Auction and raised a record $730,000, up $130,000 from last year.
More than 550 guests gathered under the tent at Chateau St. Jean winery in Kenwood to enjoy the vibrant colors, flavors and sounds of Bollywood during the final event of the three-day Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which grossed $1.65 million, up $350,000 from last year.
Auctioneer David Reynolds, who launched the first auction 20 years ago, drove bidding up on lots that ranged from trips to India and Paris to collections of high-end pinots and cabernets.
Taste of Sonoma
The weekend, organized by the Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation, serves as the premier showcase for the county's bounty of food and wine while raising money for local charities. This year's beneficiaries are the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley and Central Sonoma County.
A special "Fund-a-Need" lot for the Boys & Girls Clubs also raised a record $252,000. Elise Bulger of Healdsburg, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County board of directors, got the ball rolling on the group bidding with a high bid of $50,000.
One of the most popular lots, the "Magnum Force" collection of 76 bottles, went to Rick and Lori Miron of Santa Rosa for $25,000, which tied for the top bid of the day from a single bidder.
"We've gotten it for the last couple of years," said Rick Miron, who works for TricorBraun WinePak, the main sponsor of the auction.
The lot was introduced by a troupe of two dozen women from the Sonoma County wine industry who danced around the stage in colorful, Indian garb.
Tying for the top bid of the day were Mark and Terri Stark of Santa Rosa, who bid $25,000 for a trip to New Orleans that will be hosted by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne of Kosta Browne Winery.
Mark Stark, who owns four restaurants in Sonoma County, catered the new Sonoma Starlight Supper Club dinner Friday night that kicked off the weekend at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville. That sold-out event served 100 guests gathered on the winery's front patio and an additional 400 seated seated around the pool for a casual barbecue catered by Jeff Mall of Zin Restaurant and Carlo Cavallo of Meritage in Sonoma.