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Wine of the Season

By Brodie Jenkins

Auctions can be dangerous. So many tantalizing options and all that money flying about triggers the compulsive inner consumer. Numbers are scratched, paddles are lifted, and suddenly a 3-by-4-foot acrylic nude painting in bright swirling metallics gloats gaudily from the bathroom wall, a constant reminder of bad decisions made.

Yet some occasions are worth the splurge. Folks with money to burn in pursuit of fun and philanthropy will find just that at the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, now in its 16th year, which takes the prize as far as North Bay auctions go. The event is the finale to cap off the inaugural Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which runs Aug. 29–31.

After raising $1.3 million last year and over $8 million in the previous 15 years overall, the auction is expected to rake in the bucks this year with more than 50 lavish lots, live music and a slew of local celebrity chefs to guide attendees through various food and wine tastings. Among the contributing wineries are Sangiacomo Vineyard, Schug Carneros Estate, Gloria Ferrer Winery and Ravenswood Winery. Proceeds go to 13 local charities, including Hanna Boys Center, Operation Youth of Sonoma Valley and WillMar Center for Bereaved Children.

The tagline "You're not hallucinating, you're in Sonoma Valley!" and a '60s theme give the event an irreverent, festive tone, with one of the groovier highlights being a Lava Lamp Lounge where guests can sip wine and relax beside a Volkswagen-bus-turned-refreshment-stand. Rockin' throughout the day, a live band will serenade auction-goers with throwback Rolling Stones tunes and other '60s favorites.


Forget the Bath and Body Works baskets and Best Buy gift certificates. The seriously sumptuous auction lots are enough to make any hedonist drool, with options including a French culinary arts trip to Washington, D.C., and Paris and a week for four in Florence at the Petroni family's elegant two-bedroom apartment on Piazza dell'Olio. For those who don't feel like flying overseas, a fully loaded 2008 Toyota Prius is just waiting to save one lucky driver a lot of gas money. Those who can't make it to the event or who need a head start on bidding can now do it online at

But folks interested in low-budget revelry should look elsewhere for a good time—"high rollers only" seems to be the memo. A single ticket to the event costs a whopping $750 on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Cline Cellars, 24737 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. 11am–6pm; bidding begins at 1pm. 800.939.7666. [ ]

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