The wine auction for Lake County — Lake County Rising — is Sunday March 20 in Napa to fund fire relief efforts.

For the back story, here’s a Q & A with Terry Dereniuk, executive director of Lake County Winery Association. Dereniuk also gives us a peek at the top auction lots.

Q: How did you pull off having your charity auction – Lake County Rising – at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena?

A: “This is a first, yes, having it at the CIA in St. Helena.

When the Valley Fire broke out, the Lake County wine industry started receiving calls offering to help almost immediately. In response, the Lake County Winery Association, Lake County Winegrape Commission, and Lake County Wine Alliance launched a collaborative fund raising effort, #LakeCountyRising. We are guided by a steering committee to generate awareness, solicit funds beyond Lake County borders, and guide the distribution of funds to assist individuals, businesses, and organizations where the need is acutely felt.

Members of the steering committee include Kaj Ahlmann, President, Lake County Wine Alliance, and Owner, Six Sigma Ranch; Andy Beckstoffer, Chair and Owner, Beckstoffer Vineyards; Rob Brown, District 5 Supervisor, County of Lake; Elizabeth Gore, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Dell; Peter Molnar, Partner and General Manager, Obsidian Ridge Vineyards; Brad Onorato, District Representative for U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson; Tiffany Ortega, Assistant Administrator,Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

We have been touched by the overwhelming generosity of so many members of the wine industry outside of Lake County. We made the decision to have a charity wine auction at the CIA and have received wonderful support in both planning and gathering donations for this event. Linda Reiff and Napa Valley Vintners, Paul Wagner and Balzac Communications, Tom Bensel and the staff at the CIA, auctioneer Fritz Hatton, the members of our steering committee, and many others have helped us with this event.”

Q: Why is it key to have the auction in Napa this year, in light of the Lake County fires?

A: “Many in the Napa and Sonoma wine communities were personally touched by the Valley Fire through losses suffered by staff members and friends. Hosting the auction in Napa offers the community another opportunity to support Lake County as we begin the rebuilding process and a chance to enjoy a delightful afternoon at the premiere CIA facility.”

Q: What funding goals do you have in mind? What did you raise last year?

A: Donations of over $800,000 have been made to #LakeCountyRising since the outbreak of the Valley Fire. While this is a large sum of money, much more is still needed to help with long-term recovery. We would love to see this fund top $1,000,000 with proceeds from this auction.

Q: What did the monies raised go to last year? What will they go to — specifically this year?

A: “To date, gifts totaling $239,700 have been made supporting needs that were not covered by other funding sources. The file “donations to date” has details of this giving. As you can see, there’s a wonderful diversity of giving so far. Our goal was to give about 20 percent to assist in these types of areas and then use the remaining funds – including those raised through the upcoming auction – to assist with the long-term rebuilding. We are in close communication with the County, Team Lake County, Hope Crisis Response Network, and others who are working on this complex issue to ensure funds go where they will do the most good.”

Q: How were you able to wrangle up all the Napa Valley wine, car and other goodies?

A: “We asked for help and have received overwhelmingly generous support from many in the California wine industry. Linda Reiff and her staff at Napa Valley Vintners committed to helping us early in the planning process. They reached out to their members and the community to put together three fabulous live auction lots plus an additional six silent auction lots. Andy Beckstoffer who is a member of the #LakeCountyRising steering committee, donated two impressive live auction lots. Peter Molnar, also a member of the #LakeCountyRising steering committee and former Chairman of the Lake County Winegrape Commission Board of Directors reached out to the industry to put together three fabulous lots for the live auction. We reached out to E&J Gallo and they have also donated a fabulous lot for the live auction. Other wine regions including Sonoma and Mendocino responded to our requests for help with donations as well as sharing information about the auction.   And we asked members of the Lake County wine community to help us put together a live auction lot that would showcase Lake County.”

Q: What does all this say about generosity in Wine Country? Were you surprised by the outpouring?

A: “The donations and assistance that we have received with planning this auction event as well as the outpouring and donations that have already been received is overwhelming. It reinforces the fact that we have friends and neighbors outside of Lake County who were touched by the fires and stepped up in so many ways to help. We cannot begin to say how much this support means and will help our community to rebuild and recover.”

Q: What you consider to be your top 10 lots?

A: “We will be offering 10 live auction lots during the event, each of which is unique and a great value for bidders. The lots include a barrel lot, fabulous experiences, and prized items.”

Barrel Lot

Personal Barrel Lot of 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

A personal barrel lot by Beckstoffer Vineyards will provide a half ton of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the 2016 harvest of the Georges III Heritage Vineyard in Rutherford and includes the expertise of the winemaking team at Sinegal Estate who will custom crush, craft, barrel, age, bottle, and label the finished wine specifically for the successful bidder.


A Taste of Napa Valley Heritage. Two couples will join Andy and Betty Beckstoffer at PRESS Napa Valley in St. Helena for a curated dinner complemented by several To Kalon wines. The lot also includes four magnums of wine from several of Beckstoffer Vineyards’ Heritage Vineyards and each couple also will receive a signed copy of sommelier Kelli White’s new book, Napa Valley Then & Now.

A Giant Experience. An ultimate San Francisco Giants game experience for 12 at AT&T Park with luxury transportation to the ball park, a private VIP Suite filled with gourmet food and Napa Valley wines, and will take home a signed baseball from Barry Bonds to remember the day

Taste the Terroir – A Lake County Viticultural Experience. An experience for 4 couples that includes three nights and four days exploring the unique and beautiful Lake County wine region. Stay in two of Lake County’s most distinguished winery properties including the historic Lillie Langtry House on Langtry Estate and the Lodge overlooking Serenity Lake at Brassfield Estate. The package includes farm to table dinners, wine tasting, and more.

Triple Stars. Treat yourselves to three-star heaven! Three couples will dine in style at Michelin 3-Star The Restaurant at Meadowood Napa Valley, indulging in six full tasting menus, with wine pairings, inclusive of tax and service. Donated by: Napa Valley Vintners and The Restaurant at Meadowood Napa Valley.

Paso Robles Rhone Experience. This two-day, two-night Paso Robles Rhône Experience for four (4) includes a private tasting at Villa Creek Cellars followed by a Chef’s Dinner with Owners Cris and JoAnn Cherry at Villa Creek Restaurant, famous for its regional eclectic farm-to-table cuisine. Donated by: Villa Creek Cellars, Saxum Vineyards, Denner Vineyards

A Lamb Asado in the Alta Mayacamas. Head to the highest part of the Mayacamas – the ‘Alta Mayacamas’ – for a lamb roast for 20 atop Obsidian Ridge with views from this ridgetop vineyard located at 2,640’ (a half-mile) in elevation. Enjoy high-elevation wines as blacksmith, chef, and proprietor of Omnivore Salt – Angelo Garro – prepares a traditional “asado” barbecue of locally raised lamb. Donated by: Obsidian Ridge Vineyard.

Louis M. Martini Winery presents a culinary experience featuring Tre Posti. 12 guests will be treated to an evening of food and wine in the historic Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso Cellar with Nash Cognetti, Former Executive Chef of Tra Vigne and currently Executive Chef of Tre Posti. The evening will include a series of culinary demonstrations followed by a specially prepared the entrée course and dessert. Wines for the evening will be the Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon and Lot 1.

For the winning bidder you will also take home (2) Cabernet Sauvignon Magnums from Louis M. Martini.

Prized Items

Green Machine. Zip around in Napa green style with a 2016 Polaris Ranger EV! This environmentally-friendly electric off-road utility vehicle is known for its smooth ride and quiet operation, making it the perfect partner for work and play. Also includes 100 bottles of Napa Valley’s finest wines from Napa Green Certified vintners. Donated by: Napa Valley Vintners and Polaris

Fire Leaf. Donated by: Hannah Henry. This still life is of a fully intact burned leaf found in H block at Obsidian Ridge Vineyard that was carried aloft some five miles from the Valley Fire. Composed by accomplished professional photographer Hannah Henry, this 40″ x 50″ archival chromogenic print is framed and finished with museum glass. A visual testament to the fragility and beauty of nature even in the midst of fire and destruction.

For those who want to partake:

Lake County Rising Charity Wine Auction

The auction is Sunday 20 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Vintner’s Hall of Fame at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), 2555 Main Street. The funds raised will go for the fire relief efforts. Tickets are $150 per person. For more information, visit or call 707-279-9463.