ANSWER: Fundraising smarts.

Last year’s Honorary Co-Chair Dan Kosta said changes were afoot because having the auction on Labor Day Weekend prevented too many family-oriented would-be-bidders with deep pockets from coming. For years these potential bidders opted to stay home and celebrate the three-day holiday weekend with their children.

After getting so many requests over the years to move the auction from Labor Day weekend, the organizers surveyed auction-goers on changing the date of the auction, and the majority preferred the second weekend of September. The research also revealed that the wine auction and the Taste of Sonoma were two unique events that played to different audiences. That’s why organizers ultimately decided to keep the Taste of Sonoma on Labor Day Weekend and schedule the wine auction for the middle of the month.

Tickets, at $2.500 a pop, are now on sale for the auction (Sept. 15 &16) at www.sonomacountywineauction.com.

The Honorary Chair this year is Barbara Banke of Jackson Family Wines and the auction will be at La Crema Estate at Sarelee’s Vineyard in Richard’s Grove on Sept. 16. Meanwhile the Taste of Sonoma will be at Sonoma State University’s Green Music in Rohnert Park Sept. 2. Here’s a peek at the rollout for both the Sonoma County Wine Auction and Taste of Sonoma.

Sonoma County Wine Auction:

    • Friday, September 15
      • Auction Lot Preview Party at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens in Santa Rosa – The weekend festivities begin with Sonoma County’s top winemakers sharing reserve wines, farm-to-table small bites, and sneak peek displays of the live auction lots.
      • Vintner-Hosted Dinners – Several wineries throughout Sonoma County will be hosting exclusive dinners for weekend package holders.
    • Saturday, September 16
      • Sonoma County Wine Auction at La Crema Estate at Sarelee’s Vineyard in Richard’s Grove – The afternoon and evening event will begin with a reception and auction lot preview from 12 noon to 2 p.m. followed by the live auction from 2:15 – 5 p.m. The evening will conclude with an al fresco dinner from 5 – 7 p.m.

Taste of Sonoma:

  • Friday, September 1 (only available to media and VIPs)
    • Exclusive winemaker lunches and dinners at Sonoma County’s top wineries
  • Saturday, September 2 – Sunday, September 3
    • Grand Tasting Event – showcasing Sonoma County’s wines and foods
    • Sommelier Tours – nationally acclaimed sommeliers will lead wine enthusiasts on 30-minute guided tastings
    • Wine Talk Seminars – offering informative, lively panel discussions and focused tastings with renowned Sonoma County winemakers
    • Blind Tasting Challenge – guests will have the opportunity to test their knowledge of Sonoma County wines.  At the end of each blind tasting, the sommelier host will reveal the wines and share tasting tips.