Inspire Napa Valley Raises Over $1.2 Million For Alzheimer’s Association

Kerrin Laz and Ray Isle

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

There is no one quite like Kerrin Laz in the Napa Valley. The former wine buyer for Dean & Deluca turned tasting room owner is a beloved figure and known all over wine country for her astonishing ability to connect with winemakers and build long-lasting relationships. Over the weekend, Laz also solidified her position as a philanthropic force. At Inspire Napa Valley, the second rendition of the annual event she debuted last year, Laz raised more than $1.2 million for the Alzheimer’s Association.

The table for Friday’s dinner

Photo Credit: Rudd Estate

The three-day weekend featured a series of incredibly exclusive happenings. On Friday night, just 80 guests were treated to a multi-course feast at Rudd Estate. The Oakville neighborhood block party featured wines from Dalla Valle Vineyards, Futo Estate, Screaming Eagle, and Vine Hill Ranch. The event started with a Champagne and oyster reception that allowed guests to explore Rudd’s stunning gardens and beautiful lake. Afterward, the group sat at one long table set among the vineyards for a delicious and decadent dinner—cooked by local vintners—of beef, duck, halibut, and seasonal vegetables.

The seminar

Photo Credit: Lowell Downey

On Saturday morning, the festivities continued with a special wine tasting and seminar at the Napa Valley Reserve. Four panelists—Food & Wine magazine’s executive wine director Ray Isle, famed winemaker Andy Erickson, Cliff Lede Vineyards COO Remi Cohen, and Lail Vineyards founder and owner, Robin Daniel Lail—selected two wines that each meant something significant to them. For example, Erickson treated guests to the 2004 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that he helped make early on in his career while one of Lail’s pours was the 2015 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that’s important to her because she grew up on Inglenook’s estate.

The wine tasting

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

The main event was Saturday night: a 300-person walk around wine tasting followed by a seated dinner, live auction, and after party. At the auction, over $750,000 was raised for the Alzheimer’s Association. Lots included once-in-a-lifetime experiences—like the chance to attend the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen with Isle.

The live auction

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

Although it was mostly games and fun, there was a poignant moment when Laz spoke about her journey with Alzheimer’s; her mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2014. “It is humbling to see so many of my peers and friends in this close-knit community come together to help support this very important cause that affects so many people,” she said at the dinner.  “After my mother’s diagnosis, I felt inspired to take action, and I look forward to continuing my passionate effort to help as many people as I can who have been affected by Alzheimer’s.”

Thomas Keller’s fried chicken

Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan

The final event was on Sunday morning: a sunny brunch at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc + Addendum. Guests enjoyed the exceptional fried chicken with savory waffles, scrambled eggs, and gravy. With friends and fans of Laz coming from all over the nation—people traveled from Florida, South Carolina, and Wisconsin to attend Inspire Napa Valley—new friends had to say goodbye. Luckily, there’s next year’s event to look forward to, so most wine lovers just said, “until next year, cheers!”