Highlights of 2019 Sonoma County Wine Auction

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The spiraling bids at last month’s Sonoma County Wine Auction raised a record-breaking $6.1  million in a single afternoon. To capture the color, here’s our list of highlights –– the memorable moments from the most sentimental, to the most historic, to the most delectable. For those who went to the auction and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots.

Most sentimental: Before bidding began for the top group lot of the day, paddle holders heard from Juliette Weiss. It’s not surprising that the eighth grader’s emotional appeal reeled in $1.6 million. Weiss, who had lived in nine different foster homes, sang “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan and recorded in recent years by Adele. The lot is dedicated to building a Boys & Girls Club in Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood, and Weiss explained why these clubs can change the trajectory of one’s life.

“It’s where I learned adults cared about me, and I had never experienced that before,” she said. “It’s where I learned how to become a better person.”

Most honorable: Merry Edwards, vintner honoree and John Ash, chef honoree.

Edwards is best known for breaking the glass ceiling for women in the wine world. She was one of three women studying enology in the master’s program at UC Davis in the early 1970s, the only one to become a winemaker. Through the years, Edwards has won countless accolades, including inductee of the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America.

Ash has been coined “the father of Wine Country Cuisine.” He, too, has earned a series of awards, and has written a handful of books, including “John Ash Cooking One-on-One” and “From the Earth to the Table.”

Most historic: Lot 10, which sold for $35,000, features a scenic flight on the Spirit of Benovia, a World War II-vintage airplane that flew over Normandy during the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

“It’s important for people to remember what the men and women who fought in World War II accomplished, namely our freedom,” said Mary Dewane, co-vintner of Santa Rosa’s Benovia Winery.

Most poignant: Chris Jackson of Jackson Family Wines, co-chairman of the auction: “Philanthropy is such a critical thing and Sonoma County has the crème de la crème when it comes to giving … making a difference in people’s lives matters.”

Gina Gallo of E. & J. Gallo, co-chairwoman of the auction: “My grandfather, Julio, and his brother, Ernest, fell in love with Sonoma County for the same reason we have, because of the diversity of its land and the diversity of people living here … We’ll definitely be here for many generations.”

Most delectable: Dustin Valette of Healdsburg’s Valette served Surf and Turf, smoked pork belly and seared Maine scallops. The chef cut his teeth on some of the most celebrated restaurants on the West Coast, including the Michelin-starred Aqua in San Francisco and Napa Valley’s Bouchon.

Wine Writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

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