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 prop, to best dish. For those who went to the auction and for the curious who didn’t, here are some snapshots.
Bidders uncorked plenty of goodwill at Sunday’s auction, raising a record-breaking $4.6 million.
Best dressed: Gina Gallo’s conventional white dress was paired with unconventional boots as seen in the photo. Gallo said: “During harvest you never wear heels. I’m always in boots 90% of the time and 10% in heels. I do love my heels, but not during harvest.”
Best cross pollination of bidders: Debbie Toler, co-chair of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, contributed to two lots totaling $150,000. Toler said, “This is a great way to give back to Sonoma and we’re happy to do it. At the end of the day, it’s all about the children.”
Best prop: A live camel, weighing 2,100 pounds, was on the grounds at Chateau St. Jean Sunday, a hefty prop to bring home the auction’s theme “From Sonoma to Marrakesh.” The 13-year old camel reportedly weighed 190 pounds at birth. The exotic creature didn’t have to travel far to the Kenwood auction. It apparently lives the good life on a ranch in Sonoma.
Best storyteller: Joel Peterson, founding winemaker of Ravenswood, said the irreverence of the auction’s early days was sacrificed in the pursuit of raising more money for charity. While Peterson agrees with the mission and believes it’s “a necessary shift,” he personally misses the wackiness of the early days. He tells the risqué story of when a barrel was being auctioned off in the early 1980s. Peterson said he was naked inside of the barrel while bids were reeling in. Right after the barrel sold, he said he had to waddle over to the highest bidder, gripping ropes on the side of the barrel. Once he got to her table, he climbed out of the barrel and streaked out of the white tent.
Best dish: Keeping paddle-holders well-nourished with eats and drinks proved to be a good bidding strategy. There was an intriguing line-up of exotic-inspired dishes, but the tastiest by far was the Lamb Merguez en Crepinette.
Best sign: In a sentimental touch organizers introduced the children’s literacy lot by having about 30 kids take the stage. They held black and white signs with quips on them about their love of reading. The most whimsical sign from the crowded line-up was: “I like to read to my dog.”