Sonoma Wine Auction 2019 raises record breaking US$6.1 million

Emotions ran high as 400 attendees bid big at the 2019 Sonoma County Wine Auction at La Crema Wine Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley.

The total take from the 40 lots on offer Saturday afternoon was a record-breaking US$ 6.1 million, according to Sonoma County Vintners, the organiser of the event. All proceeds go to local charities.

‘Supporting your local community is important, so let’s make this a big one,’ urged Chris Jackson of Jackson Family Estates before the auction started. He co-chaired the event with Gina Gallo.

The audience clearly heard him. The top lot was the auction finale, the Fund-a-Need Paddle Raise, which drew $1,613,000 in donations from $500 to $250,000 that will help build a new Boys & Girls Club in Santa Rosa. Pocketbooks opened wide after 12-year-old Juliette, a club member told how she’d been helped and sang ‘Make You Feel My Love.’ Gallo and Jackson each contributed $250,000.

The live auction got off to a slow fundraising start, with several stellar lots going for bargain prices. A getaway to Francis Ford Coppola’s private island in the Caribbean, for example, brought just $56,000.

Prices and excitement began escalating with the auction’s honored vintner, Merry Edwards, touting her Lot #12, a blend of her Pinots and 49ers football team VIP experiences, with an emotional reminder she’s retiring after selling her eponymous winery to Louis Roederer.

Bidding went super high with lot # 13, a 378-bottle instant cellar of classic Sonoma Cabernet blends that sold for $520,000, the highest priced lot in the auction’s history, to investor Bill Sanders from Virginia.

Other top lots combined country music and wine. Barbara Banke, owner of Jackson Family Estates, nabbed a luxury trip to Nashville that featured a private concert with the next highest bid, $320,000, while Lot #21, a private evening with country music superstar band Lady Antebellum and wines offered by Stonestreet Winery went for $300,000.

The Auction weekend kicked off on Thursday night with a party in Jacuzzi Winery’s courtyard, where 44 winemakers poured wines. On Friday night attendees headed to intimate vintner dinners, like the one at Banke’s private residence that featured 2014 Verite La Muse on a stone patio with a grand view of a huge, ancient live oak.

The auction managed to create the same kind of intimate, warm, community-first atmosphere, with plenty of rural charm

‘You’re only as strong as your community,’ said Gina Gallo. ‘This auction is not just about this year. It’s about caring and building sustainability for the county we love.’