SANTA ROSA, CA (September 22, 2018) – The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation and George F. Hamel, Jr., 2018 Sonoma County Wine Auction Honorary Chair, are excited to announce over $5.7 million was raised at the 2018 Sonoma County Wine Auction, presented by Visa Signature®, breaking records. The Fund-A-Need paddle raise dedicated to rebuilding Sonoma County focused on housing solutions raised an incredible $2.5 million.

Paradise Ridge Winery, owned by the Byck family, provided an inspirational setting for the kickoff party for Sonoma County Wine Auction’s weekend activities. Sadly, the winery and cellar were lost in last October’s fires, but the family is beginning to rebuild. [Photo by Michael Woolsey; courtesy of Sonoma County Wine Auction]

The live auction event held at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard, was the culmination of a three-day affair in Sonoma County that included a kickoff, revival-themed party hosted at Paradise Ridge Winery and vintner dinners hosted throughout the county. Proceeds raised will support more nonprofit organizations in Sonoma County than any other local fundraising event.

“We are thrilled with the results of this year’s auction and are grateful to our generous bidders, wine community, sponsors, donors, and volunteers for their support and participation in this event,” said Michael Haney, Sonoma County Vintners Executive Director. “Every year the proceeds raised by our auction benefit local nonprofit organizations that support our community’s most pressing needs.”

Including today’s results, the Sonoma County Wine Auction has raised nearly $35 million to help fund charitable organizations focusing on literacy, education, arts and culture, environment and health and human services since its inception.

The live auction was hosted by auctioneer, John Curley, who entertained and enthused guests from around the country to bid generously and competitively. Auction lots ranged from revered wine collections to once-in-a-lifetime experiences and incredible, far and away travel adventures.

2018 Sonoma County Wine Auction Honorary Chair George Hamel, Jr. and his wife Pamela of Hamel Family Wines. [Photo by George Rose; courtesy of Sonoma County Wine Auction]

Honorary Chair, George Hamel, Jr.’s Lot No. 14, Peanuts and George Winston. One Night Only. Ever., featuring the music of legendary San Francisco jazz musician Vince Guaraldi performed by Grammy Award winner George Winston was the top selling lot of the day, fetching $460,000 with 46 couples paying $10,000 each to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The auction’s top wine-only lot was Winemaker Michael Browne’s Lot No. 7, Back to the Future with CIRQ. Estate and Michael Browne, an exclusive and rare collectible lot comprised of CIRQ. Estate library wines in mixed formats, celebrating Michael’s pursuit of the highest quality Pinot Noir, which garnered $80,000.

Other top lots included:

  • Lot No. 11, a trip to Wimbledon including dinner with Wimbledon legend, Tim Henman, which was generously acquired by David Shimmon for $190,000.
  • Lot No. 34, an exclusive dinner with Chef Honoree Nancy Oakes, with a multicourse meal prepared by some of her close friends, including: Gary Danko, Michael Tusk, Emily Luchetti, and Tyler Florence among other celebrity chefs of the region reached $95,000 before being doubled for a total of $190,000.
  • Lot No. 16, Christopher Creek Winery’s dream trip to Italy complete with a stay in an Italian castle, and spontaneous add-on from Culinary Chair Dustin Valette of Valette Healdsburg to fly to Italy to cook an exclusive dinner for the lucky winner peaked at $95,000.

Sonoma County Taiko and cheerleaders from Cardinal Newman High School escorted Sonoma County Wine Auction guests into the tent. [Photo by George Rose; courtesy of Sonoma County Wine Auction]

Brothers George Hamel, III and John Hamel, representing the Hamel Family Foundation, kicked off the Fund-A-Need paddle raise with a donation of $300,000, which was quickly matched by the Jackson family. Additional, donors included E&J Gallo at $150,000 followed by $100,000 donations by Stewart Resnick, Landmark Vineyards; Mac McQuown, Stone Edge Farm; Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane of Benovia Winery; Francis Ford Coppola Family and Winery; and Jim Bailey of Knights Bridge Winery. Once all bids were finally in, George Hamel and David Shimmon graciously rounded out the Fund-A-Need paddle raise to $2.5 million.

“More than 5,000 Sonoma County homes were lost to the October fires last year, and we know recovery needs to be looked at through a longer-term lens,” said George Hamel, 2018 Honorary Chair. “Housing is a basic and fundamental necessity for everyone, and my family all feel strongly about supporting this effort. We are humbled and grateful to everyone who raised their paddles today.”

For anyone who was unable to attend and is interested in making a donation towards this year’s Fund-A-Need or community grants program can do so by sending contributions to: Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, 400 Aviation Boulevard, Suite 500, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 or by visiting:

Save the date for the 2019 Sonoma County Wine Auction to be held September 19-21 at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley.


Additional Sonoma County Wine Auction Sponsors Include: Tricorbraun Winepak, American AgCredit, Biagi Bros., Butterfly Aviation LLC, First Republic Bank, Flexjet, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard, Pack n’ Ship Direct, Paradise Ridge Winery, Pure Luxury Transportation, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Silicon Valley Bank, T.W. Boswell, Wine Spectator and Wright Contracting.


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