Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Gross Totals Up, Events Raise More Than $1.6 Million for Non-Profits

Magnum Force Dancers strike a pose at Sonoma Shambala, the 20th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. Photos: George Rose

(Sonoma County, CALIF.) — Attendees enjoyed the exotic theme of “Sonoma Shambala” at the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean, the grand finale of the fifth annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, August 31 – September 2, 2012 which raised essential dollars in support of Sonoma County non-profits. Gross proceeds, due to the generosity of more than 5,500 attendees at various events throughout the weekend, were in excess of $1.6 million, up more than $350,000 from last year.

Following a reception in a bustling and brilliantly colored bazaar, auction-goers at the 20th annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction enjoyed an afternoon of world-class wine and cuisine from Sonoma County’s hottest vintners and top-notch wine country chefs. Within the tent at Chateau St. Jean, and under the watchful eye and signature humor of Auctioneer Dave Reynolds, more than 550 auction attendees battled for lots ranging from extreme adventures to highly-sought wines to once-in-a-lifetime experiences at locations across the globe. While auction totals are being finalized, early tabulations total more than $730,000, which is more than was raised in 2011.

“Our 20th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction provided the perfect ending to Sonoma Wine Country Weekend,” said Maureen Cottingham, Co-Producer, “In Sonoma County we are able to share the authenticity and intimacy of everything that makes wine country so desirable. Once again vintners, grape growers and winemakers went above and beyond with their generosity and our bidders responded.”

“We were again amazed at the generosity of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend attendees,” said Co-Producer Honore Comfort, “as well as the continued generosity of the hundreds of vintners and growers from throughout our region, many of whom opened their cellars, estates and in some cases their homes, to showcase the best of Sonoma County. It is the participation of our vintners, growers, and chefs that makes this event so special and they pull together to give back to our community. ”

The largest grossing lot of the day was the “Fund-A-Need” which, after an appeal by several deserving Sonoma County children, raised more than $250,000 of donations at various levels, which will be divided equally between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County.

The top two lots purchased by single bidders were the Magnum Force lot purchased for $25,000 by Rick Miron of TricorBraun WinePak and the Kosta Browne lot purchased for $25,000 by Terri and Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants. The ever-popular Magnum Force lot, consisting of a library of large format wine bottles, was presented by the Magnum Force “Bollywood Ladies” of the wine industry who performed a choreographed number which urged the bidding up. The MacMurray Ranch Party lot was sold to multiple bidders at $500 per person, with the Gallo Family Winery matching every bid for a total lot price of $69,000.

Some of the other hottest among the thirty-five live lots of the event included a lot from Ram’s Gate Winery featuring a racing experience with actor Patrick Dempsey which sold for $22,000 and a lot from Buena Vista Winery that was sold twice for a total of $20,000. In addition, Buena Vista Winery owner Jean-Charles Boisset resold a lot from last year’s auction for an additional $10,000 which brought the total winery contribution to $30,000.

The 2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Honorary Co-Chairs, were selected for their wine industry leadership and community service.  Honored this year were Margo and Don Van Staaveren, Chateau St. Jean as the Winery Co-Chairs and The Robert Young Family as the Grower Co-Chairs.

The auction ended with a celebratory post-auction party and special Founder’s Bar that offered ultra-premium and limited edition wines served by some of Sonoma’s legendary vintners.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, presented by Visa Signature®, included winery lunches, barbecues and dinner parties as well as the new Sonoma Starlight Supper Club at Francis Ford Coppola Winery sponsored by Kaiser Permanente this past Friday night, the elegant and unparalleled Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch on Saturday which sold out for the third year in a row, and culminated with the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean on Sunday afternoon sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak.

For those who could not attend the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, yet would still like to participate in the charitable effort, an online auction of additional  lots, including many of Sonoma County’s finest large format wine bottles and exclusive experiences, is open for bidding through September 7, 2012 at

About Sonoma Wine Country Weekend:

Produced in partnership by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation and the Sonoma County Vintners, the 2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend event features the Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®, the Sonoma Starlight Supper Club at Francis Ford Coppola Winery sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the 20th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak, and an assortment of additional winery-hosted events throughout Sonoma County. Proceeds from Sonoma Wine Country Weekend support Sonoma County non-profit organizations. To date, a cumulative total of more than $11 million has been donated directly to Sonoma County non-profits by the local wine community through this event.

About 2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sponsors and Beneficiaries

A partnership between Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is California’s premier wine, food and social event, taking place on Labor Day weekend each year. The events comprising Sonoma Wine Country Weekend have raised over $11 million in support of local charities that benefit students, children, farm workers and people in need.  The 2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is presented by Visa Signature®.  In addition to Visa Signature, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend sponsors include: TricorBraun WinePak, MacMurray Ranch®, Buick, Cooking Light, Wine Spectator, San Francisco Magazine, Chateau St. Jean, Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Kaiser Permanente. For a complete list of beneficiaries and sponsors, please visit

About Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners

The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA) is a non-profit trade organization serving over 500 members who share a mission to promote awareness of Sonoma Valley’s grapes, wine, and history as the birthplace of the California wine industry. The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation (SVVGF) is a non-profit 501c.3 organization that has raised over $8,000,000 for local Sonoma Valley charities. For more information on the SVVGA and SVVGF, please visit

Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions, noted for its heritage of artisan winemaking, distinct growing regions, and extraordinary quality. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 175 wineries of all sizes throughout the county. Learn more about SCV at


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