At Sonoma Valley wine auction, hilarity sells

If you want to pretend you're Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," here's your chance.

A fun, decadent auction lot at this Sunday's Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction is offering "A Sparkling Breakfast at Tiffany's," with Iron Horse Vineyards uncorking sparklers at Tiffany on Union Square in San Francisco, a prelude to a shopping spree.

"Suggested attire, a little black dress with a jewel neck so you can try on everything you like," joked Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse. "This will be the most fun 'dress up party' ever."

Every year, the valley's Harvest Wine Auction prides itself on having the most audacious personality in Wine Country, poking fun at highbrow auctions like Napa's across the Mayacamas. Here being irreverent and outlandish is sport, and with "Sonoma Homecoming 2011" as the theme, you can expect the Benziger boys from their namesake winery to impersonate cheerleaders and yes, even the Homecoming Queen.

More than 500 are expected to gather under the white tent to drink, graze and bid, and there will no doubt be some hot hots in the crowd. It's not certain whether comic Tommy Smothers will be back with his "Yo Yo Man" act (playing off celloist Yo-Yo Ma), or whether star animator John Lasseter of Pixar and Disney fame will show up and strip down a bit, auctioning off layer after layer of T-shirts like he has in the past. The only thing that is certain is that organizers know hilarity sells so they're attempting, once again, to drive up bids by packaging humor with a string of skits.

The event, at Cline Cellars in Sonoma, begins at 12:30 p.m. for a barbecue lunch, with the auction beginning at 2:30 p.m. (Tickets are $500 a person and for more information, visit or call (800) 939-7666.)

Here's a peek at the lots certain to create some bidding wars under the white tent:

A Sparkling Breakfast at Tiffany's. A weekend for four in San Francisco featuring the private breakfast at Tiffany, a gift certificate toward a piece of diamond jewelry, a winemaker dinner for four at Jardiniere restaurant before an evening at the San Francisco ballet.

Shopping and Eating Your Way Through New York City. A stay at the Plaza Hotel, dinner at the James Beard Foundation Annual Gala, dinner at Charlie Palmer's Aureole New York, a $2,000 gift card for a shopping spree.

Desert Escape with Kosta Browne Winery. A weekend of golf, spas and food and wine in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Dan Kosta, co-founder of Kosta Browne Winery, including private jet transportation, as well as a stay at the Fairmont-Scottsdale Princess hotel. The lot also includes a private dinner and tasting with Kosta and co-founder Michael Browne at one of their homes in Wine Country.

Around the World Wine Excursion. A 10-day international tour of some of the world's top wine regions for the winning bidder and three guests, which will include France's Burgundy region and Piedmont in Italy.

Boys and Their Toys with Dutton Ranch. A weekend road rally to Palm Springs for golf, wine, dinners and luxury accommodations. The use of a classic sports car (the toy) is the heart of this lot.

The Benziger Family Winery Senior Prom Party. The Benzigers are planning the Senior Prom called "Save the Last Drink for Me" for July 2012. Prom dresses and pastel tuxes befitting that of Prom King and Queen are encouraged. There will be plenty of Benziger and Imagery wines, along with food and live entertainment.

London with Sir Peter Michael and Lady Michael of Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga. The car and wine enthusiast will appreciate the tickets to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a tour of the Rolls Royce Factory, a winemaker dinner with Sir Peter and Lady Michael, wine expert Jancis Robinson and others, and a stay at London's Savoy Hotel. Stateside, a tour and tasting at the Peter Michael Winery, along with the gift of a collection of Peter Michael wines.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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