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Wine Auction raises $1.4M

GAYLE ARROWOOD, with the dance troupe Magnum Force, joins the samba girls at the end of the auction./Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

GAYLE ARROWOOD, with the dance troupe Magnum Force, joins the samba girls at the end of the auction./Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

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The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, now a joint effort of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance and the Sonoma County Vintners, turned the samba into a smashingly successful version of dancing for dollars, with record-breaking revenues from 34 auction lots and 600 guests.

The auction total was $1.4 million – nearly twice the take from 2012 – of which $691,250 went to a special “Fund the Future” lot to promote improved literacy among county school kids through grade three.
Last year’s fund-a-need lot raised some $264,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Equally stunning as the auction totals were the three $75,000 bids for the literacy fund, made by Jackson Family Wines, the Gallo family and Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery.

Theme for the gala affair at Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood, was “Sonoma Samba” and included a contingent of sexy samba dancers wearing mostly feathers, followed by a troupe of carnival drummers. The traditional Magnum Force amateur dance company, professionally choreographed by Suzy Fridell and dressed in fringed minis brought the audience to its feet, while MC Squire Fridell joked that spouses attempting to edit each other’s bids would be escorted from the premises.

Next to the Fund the Future lot, the highest bid of the day was $125,000 for multiple bidders to attend a dance and barbecue at the MascMurray Ranch prepared by Healdsburg’s legendary sausage maker Bruce Aidells.
The carnival theme was woven throughout the event with piles of coconuts, colorful masks, exotic dress and lots of Samba sounds.

The traditional Magnum Force lot, this time 71 magnum bottles, was bought by regular auction bidders Rick and Lori Miron, who added to their sizeable cellar with a winning bid of $32,000.

Glen Ellen’s John and Nancy Lasseter paid $17,000 to hold a party for 33 friends at the Glen Ellen Star restaurant.

The auction’s $1.4 million take does not include revenues from the other weekend activities, which included the wildly successful Taste of Sonoma event at MacMurrray Ranch, and benefit the sponsoring vintners organizations. Final event totals were not available at press time.