2023 Sonoma County Wine Auction raises $1.3 million

The total was down from the $1.8 million raised last year to fund a variety of causes.|

The spiraling bids at the Sonoma County Wine Auction Sept. 16 raised more than $1.3 million, which was down from last year’s take of $1.8 million.

Even so, organizers remained upbeat, saying the funding will benefit those in need.

“It is important to our local wine industry that we raise this critical funding to help create a thriving community and also help support our neighbors when they need assistance due to unfortunate circumstances,” said Mark Malpiede, Sonoma County Vintners Foundation president and president of Ernest Vineyards in Healdsburg.

The proceeds from the live auction at Windsor’s La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard will benefit a bevy of local nonprofit organizations targeting education, literacy, health, the environment, the arts and disaster relief.

The highest-selling lot of the day that wasn’t duplicated, snapped up at $47,000, was Lot No. 7, Best of the Big Apple. Donated by Benovia Winery. The lot included a five-night stay in New York City with Michelin-starred dinners and tickets to Broadway shows.

Lot No. 16 also drew spirited bidding. Named Celebrate Bhutan’s First Harvest, the lot offered the chance to witness Bhutan’s first commercial wine harvest. The enthusiasm for the lot prompted the auctioneer to double it so two bidders could win at $30,000 each, raising a total of $60,000.

Sparking the liveliest bidding was Lot No. 11, The Farmer, Butcher, Chef, and a Unicorn. It was introduced by chef Duskie Estes, who walked through the crowd holding an inflatable unicorn to spur bidding. The lot includes dinner for 10 with Estes and her husband, John Stewart, at MacBryde Farm in Forestville. It also includes a butchery lesson from Dave the Butcher of Victorian Farmstead, dinner from world-famous chef Charlie Palmer and unique (“unicorn”) wines from the Three Sticks Monopole vineyards. Guiding the tasting will be Prema Kerollis, general manager and co-founder of Three Sticks and Head High Wines.

The biggest group lot of the day — Fund-A-Need — raised $454,000, down from last year’s take of more than $595,000. The Fund-A-Need lot regularly draws the largest price from a pool of bidders and benefits literacy and education programs.

Jackson Family Wines kicked off the bidding with a $100,000 donation. Foley Family Wines and E. & J. Gallo Winery raised their paddles next, contributing $50,000 each. Paddles continued to be raised for donations ranging from $250 to $25,000.

The auction continues to be regarded as the largest wine charity event in Sonoma County. It raised a record-breaking $6.1 million in 2019 at its in-person auction, when 400 bidders vied for 40 lots.

The auction traces its roots back to 1993 as the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. The philanthropic tradition took off from there, raising more than $40 million since its inception.

You can reach wine writer Peg Melnik at 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @pegmelnik.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:
  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.