SF: 3 Haute Wine Country Fundraisers You Can’t Afford To Miss

We’re still in recovery mode after Napa Valley Festival del Sole, the 10-day celebration that artfully blends the world’s finest classical, jazz, opera, theater and dance artists with curated culinary, wine and fitness pursuits. The 10th landmark season—proceeds from the auction make possible the festival’s free and low-cost concert opportunities for local residents, as well as grants to bolster Napa County public school arts education initiatives and Napa Valley Youth Symphony scholarships—concluded yesterday. Now it’s time for giving people like yourself to start thinking about how you’ll help others for the remainder of the summer. We’ve got the three hautest wine country fundraisers on tap that you don’t want to miss.


17th Annual V Wine Celebration

v foundation celebrationPhoto Credit: Courtesy V Foundation

17th Annual V Wine Celebration
August 6-9, 2015
Various locations throughout Napa Valley

You need not have been a college basketball fan to know Jimmy Valvano‘s name because the former North Carolina State coach who succumbed to cancer in April 1993 was much bigger than the game of hoops. He’ll forever be remembered not just for looking for someone to hug after winning the NCAA championship in 1983 or his touching speech at the ESPYs, a month before he died, when he said, “Don’t give up . . . don’t ever give up!”®  but more so for the good The V Foundation for Cancer Research does. In its 21-year history, The V Foundation has raised the funds and awarded more than $130 million in cancer research grants, in turn, leveraging more than $1 billion in additional funding. The foundation has awarded more than 500 grants to over 120 institutions nationwide, including 55 grants for pediatric cancer research at institutions that have totaled more than $15 million to date.

The foundation’s annual fundraiser, The V Wine Celebration, the three-day signature fundraising event, attracts attendees from all over to the Napa Valley for a gala weekend of events and activities. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his wife Mickie Krzyzewski host this year, which begins with exclusive dinners on Thursday at B Cellars, Joseph Phelps Vineyards Raymond Vineyards and Silver Oak Cellars while the lovable Gail and Carmen Policy host a members-only Humanitarian & Founders Dinner at their Casa Piena Winery. Afterwards, all guests can kick up their heels at Club Red at Raymond Vineyards until 1:30 a.m. Day 2 includes the Presidents Club & Vintner Grant Honoree Luncheon, honoring Rick and Elaine Jones, sponsored by Bentley Motors and hosted by another one of our fave couples, Kathryn Walt Hall and Craig Hall, followed by a Bordeaux Blending Session at HALL Wines. In the evening a ‘Let’s Get It Started” Party features famed restaurateurs, chefs and vintners, plus a connoisseur wine auction and dancing to Project M, which promises to thrill the crowd with old school R&B, funk and rock and roll. A cancer research symposium, open to the public, takes place Saturday morning at V Marketplace followed a wine-infused marketplace at the Villagio harvest patio and lobby. The Saturday night gala takes place at Nickel & Nickel in Oakville includes a silent auction, live auction, dinner and concert by Huey Lewis & The News. An unprecedented $3 million matching grant from an anonymous donor will challenge bidders in the fund-a-need portion of the evening. With this match, The V Foundation for Cancer Research is well positioned to raise at least $6 million through this auction lot, 100 percent of which will support pediatric brain cancer research. That’s plenty of reason to celebrate at the after party that will take place the lobby of the Villagio Inn & Spa until 2 a.m.! For more information, visit winecelebration.org.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2015

coppola pool wide
Kick off Sonoma Wine Country Weekend poolside at the iconic Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2015
Labor Day Weekend
Sept. 4-6, 2015
Various locations throughout Sonoma County

Sonoma doesn’t get any better than during the annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Sonoma County’s signature, and largest, charity event, bringing together over 200 of Sonoma’s top winemakers and growers, along with a collection of the area’s best chefs. This year’s edition promises to be as exciting and rewarding as ever. Jointly produced by the Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation, all proceeds benefit local Sonoma charities. Since its inception, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, named one of America’s top three wine charity fundraisers, has raised over $16 million for charities that benefit students, children, farm workers and people in need in Sonoma County communities. Last April, a record-breaking total of $3,385,400 in contributions to 84 Sonoma County non-profit organizations was distributed from the wildly successful 2014 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.  The record-breaking figure includes over $1,700,000 from the Fund the Future initiative to support children’s literacy programs, which was raised during the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction last August.

The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction is the highlight of the weekend but there’s a bevy of events that lead up to it. For three delicious, decadent days you’ll get up close and personal with Sonoma County’s full bounty of flavors. Rub shoulders with winegrowers, winemakers and chefs, from pioneers to up-and-comers. The festivities feature one main event a day. On Friday, get ready for Sonoma Starlight, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, which takes place poolside at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geysersville. The five-hour Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Estate Vineyards in Healdsburg is Saturday, and Sunday is the flagship event, the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood. In addition to the main events, there are also winemaker lunches on Friday, winemaker dinners on both Friday and Saturday and winery barbecues on Sunday. High rollers won’t want to miss the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. This is a haute ticket and offers you not just passage into the Wine Spectator Auction Tent, but it also allows you to mingle with Sonoma’s finest winemakers, as each table will be presided over by a local vintner or grower who will share not only their finest wines, but great stories, too! This event offers the bidder a selection of rare world-class experiences and wines under the tent. As your afternoon of adventure and gracious giving winds down, retire in the Cigar Lounge for a refreshing respite from the auction’s hustle and bustle. After all this, you certainly have our permission to rest on Monday, Labor Day.

If your Labor Day plans already call for you to be elsewhere, don’t fret. You can still help Sonoma. Starting on August 1, you can bid high and bid often at the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Online Auction benefiting Sonoma non-profits. This is your chance to take home prized bottles from Sonoma County’s winemakers’ cellars, one-of-a-kind etched bottles and exclusive Sonoma trips and packages. For more information, visit SonomaWineCountryWeekend.com.

21st Annual Music Festival For Brain Health

Garen Staglin and Shari Staglin
Garen Staglin and Shari Staglin

21st Annual Music Festival for Brain Health
September 19, 2015
Staglin Family Vineyards

Every year the Music Festival for Brain Health brings together learning, music, wine, cuisine, and camaraderie in brilliant fashion, thanks to the Staglins. The charitable clan comprised of father Garen, wife Shari, son Brandon and daughter Shannon put on what has become one of America’s most important fund-raising events focusing on brain disorders. Celebrating its 21st season, the festival has raised, including grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, more than $210 million. Last year alone, the event raised approximately $3.5 million to support the research to find cures for brain disorders. The 21st Annual Music Festival for Brain Health benefits One Mind Institute (“IMHRO”), and One Mind™, each partnering to support research, education, treatment, and to fight the stigma surrounding brain disorders. The Staglins became active in supporting mental health research and treatment after Brandon was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The son has since graduated with honors from Dartmouth and is currently marketing communications director for both the Staglin Family Vineyard and IMHRO. With more than 30 percent of Americans expected to experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives, there’s even more reason to raise your glass to the Staglins this year. The Staglin Family Music Festival Center for Brain and Behavioral Health, a new research center at UCLA dedicated to increasing our understanding of the brain and learning how to help the brain recover when those, and other malfunctions, occur, opened this summer.

The 21st Annual Music Festival For Brain Health kicks off with a Scientific Symposium, featuring rock-star neuroscientists presenting updates on the state of brain health research and discussing paths for prevention and cures for brain disorders followed by a Q&A session with the experts. Afterwards, enjoy a 90-minute wine reception featuring a slew of vintner stars such as Aloft Wine, Antinori, Bond Estates, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Colgin Cellars, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Darioush, HALL, Harlan Estate, Melka Wines, Screaming Eagle and, of course, Staglin Family Vineyard. The culinary skills of Torc chef/owner Sean O’Toole, whose downtown Napa restaurant is all the rage, will also be on display. This year’s music star is none other than Academy Award and Grammy winning artist Melissa Etheridge. She’ll take the stage to perform songs from her new album, This is M.E., as well as some of her greatest hits like “Come to My Window”, “I’m The Only One” and “I Want To Come Over.” At 5:30 p.m., you’ll sit-down for VIP dinner, to be prepared by the talented Hubert Keller, whose Fleur de Lys restaurant is sorely missed by many San Franciscans. This event is truly where brain science, wine and cuisine sizzle! For more information, visit music-festival.org.