Charity wine events are enjoyable ways to support good causes.
By Louis Marmon
Gazette Newspapers October 19, 2005
Tasting wines while supporting a worthwhile cause makes a doubly enjoyable evening. Members of the wine industry who share their expertise often attend such charity events, and frequently, there are opportunities to purchase rare and exotic items usually not available to the general public.
Recently, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and several local wine writers including Scott Greenberg (vineguy.com), David McIntyre (dmwineline.com) and Michael Franz (winereviewonline.com) held a fundraiser to support the D.C. Central Kitchen’s efforts to provide food for people displaced from hurricane Katrina. The response was outstanding and another fundraiser is scheduled for later this month (ramw.org).
Earlier this month, a charity wine auction, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson, George Radanovich, Ed Royce and the Congressional Wine Caucus, raised $113,000 for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. More than 350 wine enthusiasts tasted several California wines, while perusing 222 silent auction items. Most were wines from California but there was also a dinner for 10 including three magnums of wine at Equinox, dinner for eight at the Caucus Room with wines selected by the Wine Institute and a luncheon for two at Napa Valley’s Far Niente Winery. Noted Wall Street Journal wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher donated signed copies of their best-selling wine books.
An additional silent auction item was a half case of ‘‘cult wines” including the 2000 Harlan ‘‘The Maiden,” 2000 Dalla Valle Cabernet, 2003 Pax Castilli-Knight Ranch Syrah, 2002 Kistler Pinot Noir, 2002 Martinelli ‘‘Jackass” Zinfandel and the 2003 Aubert ‘‘Quarry” Chardonnay, which sold for $900. A magnum of 2002 Plumpjack Reserve Cabernet signed by the winemaker went for $360. Three double magnums of reserve wines donated by Dry Creek Vineyards were purchased for $140, while two cases of the 2000 Mario Perelli-Minetti ‘‘Miriam” Cabernet sold for $875. A three-liter bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, 30th anniversary vintage, went for $210.
The highlight of the evening was a live auction of 23 items conducted by Fritz Hatton, the chief auctioneer for New York-based Zachy’s. The first item offered was a three-liter bottle of Schramsberg Reserve that sold for $500, followed by a case of 1998 Heitz ‘‘Martha’s Vineyard” that went for $1,400. Three double magnums from noted producer Joseph Phelps (2002 Insignia, 2002 Le Mistral and 2002 Backus) sold for $2,000, and two lots of a four-bottle vertical of Turley Zinfandel magnums were purchased for $1,200 each by a single buyer who explained that ‘‘these are really beautiful wines sold for a good cause.” The employees of Joseph Phelps Vineyards donated 36 magnums of California wines that sold for $4,800, while two tickets to the Napa Valley Wine Auction, including a four-night stay at a winery guesthouse, sold for $8,000. But the best moment of the evening was when a magnum of America’s premier cult wine, the 2002 Screaming Eagle, was purchased for $2,900 as a birthday present by a woman whose husband said what he ‘‘really wanted was a flat-screen TV.” He seemed very happy nonetheless.