Florida’s Naples Winter Wine Festival last weekend took a total of US$8.6m – a third less than last year and half the auction’s peak takings of 2007.
Ferrari out: Bob and Karen Scott celebrate their winning bid of $750,000 for the f12 berlinetta
The three-day festival, which has been going since 2001 and won a reputation as the most important charity auction in the US, has now raised a total of US$116m, with a mixture of high-end wine lots and holidays, cars, jewellery and other ultra-luxurious treats.
Takings have fluctuated wildly since recession hit: from highs of US$16.5m in 2007 and US$14m the following year, the total plummeted in 2009 to US$5m.
It picked up in 2010 with takings of US$8.5m, was in robust health for the last two years, with totals of over US$12m, before dropping down again this year.
Festival chairman Bob Edwards remains upbeat. ‘Every year is different as far as the amount raised, but what is constant is our goal to raise as much money as we can for underprivileged and at-risk children,’ he told Decanter.com.
‘We raised US$1.7m per hour of bidding, a pretty incredible testament to everyone’s generosity under the auction tent.’
At the auction at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, bids ranging from US $20,000 to US$750,000 were tabled.
The latter sum went on the most powerful Ferrari ever made, the 2013 F12 berlinetta, the first ever sold in the US. Half that price, at US$340,000, was the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte V8.
The money raised is distributed through the festival’s founding organisation, Naples Children & Education Foundation.
Wine lots included a 65-bottle complete vertical of Château Mouton-Rothschild Artist Label series, from 1945 to 2010, which fetched US$180,000, and a trip to Paris and Bordeaux with private dinners and tastings, led by Napa’s Darioush Vineyards, which fetched US$220,000.
A modern jeroboam (5 litres) of each of Jackson Family Wines Verité’s 100-point wines from 2007, La Muse, La Joie and Le Désir, along with VIP tickets to the Kentucky Derby, went for US$130,000.
Verité’s owner, Barbara Banke of Jackson Family Wines was this year’s ‘Honored Vintner’ at the Festival.
Other lots included a round-the-world trip for a couple on a private jet, which went for US$240,000, four nights in Paris for ‘eight ladies’ to visit the great fashion houses (US$220,000), and a golfing, hunting and fishing trip to Scotland for ‘eight gentlemen’ (US$£150,000).
Written by Adam Lechmere