Stonestreet is at Taste Napa Valley in Rutherford today sipping wine and imaging how it would taste with a big, honking steak. “I’m a new wine drinker,” he said. “I really only drink it with food and I’m a carnivore so whatever goes great with steak works.”

Taste Napa Valley, at Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon Estate, had on-line bidding in full swing, with a back drop of wine, food and jazz. About 2,000 people were sipping highbrow wine and grazing on lamb sandwiches, ribs and fudge popsicles.

Stonestreet, an actor from Kansas, is best known for his starring role as Cameron Tucker on the ABC comedy “Modern Family.” Stonestreet’s Cameron is gay, warm, lovable and flamboyant. Stonestreet’s girlfriend Katherine Tokarz, also at the Taste, said “It’s such a compliment that people think he’s actually gay. It’s funny. In real life he’s so different. He’s such a dude. He’s got an edge.”

Tucker said playing Cameron is easy because he sees him first as a person. “He’s warm, nice and caring,” he said. “In fact gay is down on the list of who he is. He’s a parent. He’s a father. He’s a son. He’s a partner.”

The co-creator and co-writer of the show, Steve Levitan, who was nearby checking out the E-Auction lots, explained how the show was conceived. “We really wanted to explore different kinds of families. The American family has changed and there are a lot of different versions of families. The word family is constantly being redefined and we wanted to explore it.”

Levitan said when he and his writing partner Christopher Lloyd decided to develop a show, they met every day to work up ideas but they began each day sharing stories about their families. “We quickly realized the stories about our family were the most interesting things we were talking about,” he said. “From there we kept creating characters and tried to find a way to make them fresh and interesting.”

The online auction is the prelude to Saturday’s live auction at Meadowood Resort in St. Helena.

Stonestreet is part of an auction lot that offers a walk-on role in Modern Family.

In addition to 15-minutes of fame, the lot also offers two couples a three night stay at the Beverly Wilshire and dinner at Melissa, a two-star restaurant in Los Angeles. The couples will then be flown to Cabo San Lucas for a three-night stay. The couples also will be given  a five-year vertical of Frank Family’s Winston Hill (2002 to 2006) and a 12 bottles of 2005 Promise Cabernet Sauvignon.

This lot is one of the spiciest among the 41 bidders will compete for during Saturday’s live auction, and Terry Hall of the Napa Valley Vintners said “we have a robust group of top bidders coming this year … some that haven’t come in the last couple of years.”

Last year the auction’s weekend of fundraising reeled in about $5.7 million, down from a record $10.3 million in 2008.