Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wine dinner celebrates a Sun Valley tradition

Sun Valley Center Wine Auction turns 30

Express Staff Writer

Cyril Chappellet brings wine on the gondola to the Roundhouse for a special Chappellet Roundhouse wine dinner. Chappellet vineyards 1976 Cabernet Sauvignon was brought to the Roundhouse for the dinner. Photo by Blakesley Chappellet

Wild mushroom and goat cheese tarts, roasted roma tomato cognac soup, Napoleon of roasted vegetables and filet mignon of prime beef with porcini mashed potatoes and cabernet veal jus were devoured with Chappellet Vineyard wines under the light of a full moon at Averell's Bar in the Roundhouse on March 19. Why such a decadent meal?

"This is the first wine dinner at the Roundhouse," said Cyril Chappellet, owner and managing director of Chappellet Vineyard & Winery at Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley. "I give [Sun Valley Resort General Manager] Tim Silva a tremendous amount of credit to have the stamina to continue to try new things."

Chappellet is not just another vineyard owner who comes to Sun Valley to sell wine. He has a long history with Sun Valley, as his mother, Molly, along with Glenn and Bill Janss, helped begin the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' Wine Auction in 1981—30 years ago.

The Roundhouse wine dinner whetted the appetites of some of the people who will be attending the auction's 30th anniversary this summer.

Chappellet said the family spent both winters and summers in Sun Valley, and continues to do so.

"The wine auction is very heavily supported by Napa Valley vineyards," he said. "It has positive vintner support and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts does a great job to make the auction fun for vintners."

People come from all over the country to attend The Center's wine auction, which Chappellet said is good visibility for everyone involved.

"It's a completely philanthropic venture," he said. "We try and create good auction lots that are something you could never buy or find anywhere."

Chappellet's wife, Blakesley, is a mastermind behind auction items as well as the extra details that allow The Center supporters to enjoy Chappellet in Sun Valley.

"The auction can make your heart go pitter-patter, and it's fun," Chappellet said.

For more than four decades, the Chappellet family has been crafting world-class wines from fruit cultivated on the steep, rocky slopes of Napa Valley's renowned Pritchard Hill. Chappellet was one of the first wineries to pioneer high-elevation hillside planting, and is one of the few remaining family-owned wineries in Napa Valley.

Chappellet Vineyard & Winery has influenced generations of vintners. Throughout its history, Chappellet has also established a legacy as one of California's most acclaimed producers of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chappellet uncorked several bottles of 1976 Cabernet Sauvignon at the Roundhouse wine dinner.

"The key to the wine auction," Chappellet said, "is that Sun Valley is one of the most incredible places in the world. New vintners continue to help and there is more education on wine all the time, such as the Riedel tastings."

Chappellet said many relationships have been built over the years due to the wine auction.

"It's an important charity for the community," he said. "It's also a place for feedback, which is also important."

The Sun Valley Center Wine Auction will have something for everyone who likes to attend. This year, tickets for the Wine Auction Picnic & Concert and Wine Tasting Extravaganza are already on sale. Held at Warm Springs Ranch on Saturday, July 23, at 6 p.m., the Wine Auction Picnic & Concert will include flamenco-style music from Spanish band Sam Lardner & Barcelona, gourmet picnic fare with a Spanish flair from local restaurants and an array of fine wines from around the world.

In honor of the Wine Auction's 30th anniversary, 10 artists have customized wine barrels that will be auctioned off at the picnic to raise funds to support The Center's nationally recognized arts and humanities programming.

The Wine Tasting Extravaganza will be held on Saturday, July 23, at Dollar Mountain Lodge at 12:30 p.m. Top vintners and winemakers will be on hand to talk about the fine wines they are pouring. With hundreds of wines to sample and a souvenir Riedel glass to take home, the Wine Tasting Extravaganza represents good value as well as a good time.

Ticket are $60 for the Wine Auction Picnic & Concert and $40 for the Wine Tasting Extravaganza.

Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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