At Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction bidders were giddy with goodwill, raising a record-breaking $4.5 million.
To capture the color of the auction – the fashion, the humor, the bidding mentality – here’s this year’s list of “bests,” from best dressed, to best lot, to best quote. For those who went to the auction and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots.
Best dressed: Carter Pettit and his friends from Graham, Texas showed up in Charlie Chaplin outfits to celebrate the theme “From Sonoma to the World’s Fair.” Their costumes were spot on; it was 1915 when Chaplin debuted his film “The Tramp.” The best part of the group’s get-up was that they attached their mustaches to their wine glasses. (I’m not sure if the idea was to be clever or efficient.) There were four couples in all, with the women willing to suit up, as well. Pettit makes costuming a yearly ritual at the auction. In the past he has come as a football player and a safari guide. As Pettit put it: “If you’re going to come and have the ultimate fun, you’ve got to play the game and dress up.”
Best support system: Laura Dixon and husband James will be the chairs of the 2016 Naples Winter Wine Festival. They said there were about 20 people from Naples who came to the auction. As Laura put it: “We support each other.”
Best “authentic” prop: A navy blue Model T. Ford was on the lawn at Kenwood’s Chateau St. Jean. This goes down as the best authentic prop because Henry Ford was actually at the San Francisco World’s Fair in 1915 to showcase his Model T. Ford.
Most indomitable 30-somethings: 33-year old Dominic (CEO) and 38-year old Joe Foppoli (COO) of Healdsburg’s Christopher Creek sold a lot for $20,000 that features their impressive brand. Most vintners aren’t in their 30s, which makes these power broker brothers precocious in their gift-giving spirit. As Dominic put it: “Anything we can do to help the underprivileged in Sonoma County is a blessing.”
Best loot: Laura and James Dixon of Naples bought the Magnum Force lot, reaping 158 magnums for $80,000. Laura said she and her husband plan to add the magnums to their current stash of 14,000 bottles in their wine cellar.
Best dish: Crispy Fried Chicken with DK sauce, White Miso Sweet Corn, Bean Sprout and Cabbage Slaw. The chicken was delicious because it was moist underneath the decadent crust. While all the dishes were top rate – this was particularly fetching.
Best bucket list lot – Michael Thompson and wife Valarie bought the Benovia and Kosta Browne lot that features 4 passes to Super Bowl 50. As Thompson said: “We wanted to make a contribution to the community and going to the Super Bowl is on our bucket list.” Valarie joked: “It only cost us $160,000 to do it.”
Best quote – both hilarious and poignant: There was a lovely tribute to the late vintner Henry Trione, replete with a sentimental video. Later his grand-daughter, Denise Trione-Hicks, said her grandfather was well known for both his generosity and for making this sentiment known when he gifted: “There’s no luggage rack on a hearse.”