Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - May 14, 2010

Nose to glass

Raising your glass and money, at the same time

By Don Colman

In the past two weeks I had the opportunity to attend two different charity wine events. There is nothing more soothing for the soul than being able to raise money for a great cause, while raising a glass of wine.

The first event was the 34th annual San Francisco Wine Auction hosted by the Guardsmen. This event was a black tie affair with a "Rat Pack" theme, complete with "Marilyn Monroe" and paparazzi. The whole purpose of the event was to raise money for at-risk Bay Area youth, a cause that is all too often overlooked.

The highlight of the event was the ability to sample a plethora of goods from small, medium and large wineries, all in one location. The night began with a silent auction and more than 30 wineries to visit and taste. Unfortunately there was not enough time to sample them all, but I did my best. A couple of wines that stood out were Foggy Bridge, O'Brien Estate, Marston Family Vineyards, Jones Family Vineyards and Juslyn Vineyards. The night continued with a first-class meal, a live auction (for once-in-a-lifetime experiences) and ended with dancing to a live band.

If you have friends, family or clients who fancy themselves as wine aficionados, this is a perfect event for them. Keep an eye on for information on the 35th annual event.

One week later, I had the chance to stay closer to home and attend another wine auction, the 16th annual Livermore Valley Wine Auction. This, too, was a fundraiser for children, focusing on children suffering various afflictions and giving them the opportunity to attend local camps.

The theme of this auction was Vino Carnival. The night began with a silent auction and carnival games, during which time you could sample wines from numerous Livermore vintners while enjoying tasty offering from the Carnival Food Stations. The experience was truly unique as not only did you get to sample the wine, but you often had the winemaker and/or the owner of the winery actually pouring the wine. The ability to spend time with the creator of the wine provided insight into what they were trying to accomplish when crafting the wine.

There was so much variety and selection I would have needed two or three days to sample them all, so I spent my time searching for my favorites or ones that I had not experienced before. I sampled so many different top-notch wines that night that I could not begin to write about them all. There was a handful that kept me yearning for more: Nth Degree, Steven Kent and La Rochelle, Mitchell Katz, Page Mill and Darcie Kent.

The night ended with a live auction. All of the auction donors had the chance to present their items before the auctioneer created a buzz at a million words per minute. This allowed the donor to explain the item and created a personal touch. Most of the auction items were things you could never buy in a store - such as dinners at the home of the winemakers, golf with Annika Sorenstam, and locker room access to the San Jose Sharks.

Keep your eyes peeled on the website for more information on next year's wine auction or for other Livermore Valley wine events.

Both of these wine auctions were spectacular events, which allowed wine lovers to experience a variety of wine and food while raising money for worthwhile causes. Until next time, cheers!

Don Colman lives in the East Bay and writes a wine blog at


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