SANTA ROSA, Calif. (September 16, 2017) – The Sonoma County Vintners and Barbara R. Banke, the 2017 Sonoma County Wine Auction Chair, are thrilled to announce that the 2017 Sonoma County Wine Auction raised a record-breaking $5.2 million to support Sonoma County charities focused on literacy, education, health and human services, the environment and arts and culture.

Named one of the top charitable wine auctions nationally by Wine Spectator, the Sonoma County Wine Auction was presented this afternoon at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard by Visa Signature® and sponsored by Jackson Family Wines and TricorBraun WinePak. The festive philanthropic event was hosted by entertaining auctioneer John Curley, who inspired the energetic and generous crowd to bid competitively.

The auction tent buzzed with excitement with two lots that tied for the top lots of the day: Lot 11 “Winner’s Circle Escape to the Kentucky Derby” donated by Barbara Banke, Stonestreet Farms, and Jackson Family Wines for $210,000 that also doubled; and Lot 23 “Everything is Better with Bette: A Hello Dolly Adventure to New York” donated by Williams Selyem, Dr. Jeffrey P. Hays, and Mrs. Carole Shorenstein Hays which also sold for $210,000 and doubled.

Always a special moment in the annual auction, the highest grossing lot of the day was the Fund the Future lot, which raised $1.8 million for literacy programs in Sonoma County. The Jackson-Banke family kicked-off the Fund the Future lot with a bid of $250,000. This was then quickly matched by the Gallo family and Lytton Rancheria. While supporting a broad range of non-profit partners, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend has made a special commitment to raising literacy rates among children, in an effort to build a more sustainable community. A comprehensive evaluation of the literacy programs supported by Fund the Future shows improved reading levels throughout the county – and increased frequency with which parents read to their children on a regular basis.

“We are grateful to the generous bidders who attended the Sonoma County Wine Auction and enthusiastically supported our beneficiary partners,” said Barbara R. Banke, the 2017 Sonoma County Wine Auction Chair, and Chairman & Proprietor of Jackson Family Wines. “Improving literacy rates among children is the key to building a successful, sustainable community. Our goal is for every child in Sonoma County to be reading proficiently by the third grade and today’s support of our innovative literacy programs was a big step toward supporting that goal. In addition, our Community Grants program changes lives in the areas of health and human services, environment, and arts and culture.”

Shining a light on the caliber of Sonoma’s most highly-regarded and elusive wines, the top wine-only lot today was Lot 19, a six-bottle collection of rare large-format Kosta Browne 2014 single-vintage Pinot Noir, which sold for $37,000.

The day’s festivities also included a special tribute to Rodney Strong Vineyard’s Sommelier Star Program, celebrating 10 years of sommelier sponsorship. The Somm Stars program recognizes the integral role sommeliers play in wine education. “Sommeliers are our guides to wine enjoyment, offering wine selection advice and encouraging exploration. We have and continue to support sommeliers through sponsorships, scholarships, and grants due to our deep commitment to Sonoma County and wine education,” explained Rachel Thralls, Director of Wine Education for Rodney Strong Vineyards. Each year Rodney Strong Vineyards hand-selects an all-star team of sommeliers to support Sonoma Wine Country Weekend by hosting educational wine tours and seminars at Taste of Sonoma and providing dedicated wine service during the auction.

The Sonoma County Wine Auction, as part of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, is the region’s largest charitable giving event, bringing together Sonoma County’s top winemakers and growers. Since its inception more than $29 million has been raised for organizations that benefit students, children, farm workers, and people in need within Sonoma County.

“We are thrilled with the results of the Sonoma County Wine Auction,” said Jean Arnold Sessions, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Vintners. “We are so fortunate to live in a world-class wine region with such talented vintners and winemakers, who are also committed to caring for our local community.”


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