August 27, 2001
$1.5 million raised at Saturday's Auction of Washington Wines
by Carol Edwards
For the 14th year, a gala auction event at Chateau Ste. Michelle raised money for the Uncompensated Care Program at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle. Last Saturday night, the event, which has been renamed the Auction of Washington Wines (formerly Northwest Wines) raised $1.5 million which will go to the program that provides nearly $26 million each year in free or part-paid care. This charity auction is now among the top three in the nation.
Lively bidding and a gourmet dinner was followed by a live performance by Bill Cosby.
The evening began in the Chateau's banquet room with a silent auction. Guests then moved through the carpeted barrel room lined with Washington winemakers with barreled wine that could be sampled.
The grand auction was held under a 24,000-square-foot tent decorated with lights, large replicas of wine lables and grape vine centerpieces on white linen-covered tables.
Ted Baseler, president of Stimson Lake Vineyards & Estates, which inlcudes Chateau Ste. Michelle, welcomed the guests.
The 2001 auction co-chairmen were John Meisenbach, president of MCM, and Keith Grinstein, Vice Chairman of Nextel International.
Auctioneers Dick and Sharon Friel with the help of Bob Flick (original member of the Brothers Four) presented the 55 items.
Auction items included rare wines, dinner in Philadelphia with Bill Cosby which went for $50,000, a trip and dinner with wine in Hong Kong, vertical tastings of wines on yachts, gourmet dinners and golf with wine, a German shorthair pup named Chardonnay, fly fishing with a winemaker and much more. Auction tickets for next year provided by DeLille Cellars and accomodations for six at Woodinville's new Willows Lodge and spa with dinner at the Barking Frog went for $6,000.
Cole Hardman, a young Children's Medical Center patient, made his debut as a future stage host, when he told of his own experience at Children's and then encouraged the audience to raise their paddles in a series of bids that would be matched up to $300,000. The bidding started at $10,000 each and then continued with increments down to $250.
A poignant moment in the auction came with the appearance of Paige Stockley, daughter of the late wine expert/Seattle Times columnist Tom Stockley who perished with his wife Peggy in the Alaska Airlines crash off the California coast. She and Brasa Restaurant offered an auction item that featured dinner for 12 at Stockley's houseboat and music by Paige and her Odeon String Quartet which went for $6,000.
Bill Cosby, looking good with a buzz haircut and dressed casually with a shirt that said "Hello Friend," entertained the guests after the auction with stories and questions about relationships, particularly marriage. He interviewed several people in the audience asking about how the husband proposed. There were plenty of laughs when he asked the women why they were upset seeing their husband reclined with a remote in his hand. He talked about his own life and relationship with his wife and children.
Guests dined on a five-course dinner prepared by guest chefs from the Northwest. The dinner included heirloom tomato gazpacho with Owen Sullivan 2000 Semillion, Kilpsun Vineyards, Red Mountain; pan-seared halibut with corn Chaterelle ragout and Covey Run 1998 Chardonnay Reserve, Columbia Valley; duck confit with cherries and Canoe Ridge Vineyard 1998 Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley and Gordon Brothers 1999 Syrah, Columbia Valley; grilled New York strip loin with DiStefano 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley and DeLille Cellars 1998 Harrison Hill, Yakima Valley; and a plate of Yakima peach pannacotta, brown butter berry tart and a Cabernet truffle with Domaine Ste. Michelle NV Blanc de Noir. Starbucks provided coffee service and espresso carts.
Woodinville wineries participating included Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Columbia Winery, DeLille Cellars, Domaine Ste. Michelle, Facelli Winery, Matthews Cellars and Silver Lake Winery.
I was lucky to get a small taste of an incredible new 1993 vintage wine, Royal Tojka, from Hungary that will soon be released at $400 a bottle.
Hundreds of volunteers and businesses from many industries contributed.
Call (206) 667-9463 for information and how to get reservations for the 2002 event.