Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30 years old and going strong

Sun Valley Center Wine Auction exceeds expectations

Express Staff Writer

Master sommelier Frederick L. Dame joyfully uncorks wine at the Sun Valley Wine Auction Gala dinner on Friday, July 22. Photo by Dev Khalsa

When Glenn Janss went to a Napa Valley wine auction more than 30 years ago and saw how people were spending money, she came up with the idea to do the same for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts with her good friends who were in the wine business. In 2011, the Sun Valley Wine Auction is one of the nation's top-rated wine auctions, supporting the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' year-round programming. Janss—a founder of the organization—was the honorary chair for this year's wine auction, which was a celebration unlike any other anniversary.

The weekend's festivities, which included vintner dinners, wine symposiums and silent-auction wine lots, had the flare and excitement that a top-rated wine auction embodies.

Upon entry to the gala wine auction Friday, guests were greeted with barrels created by Wood River Valley artists, including a unique design by artist and teacher Bob Dix, who is also a Sun Valley Center for the Arts teacher and supporter. Dix created an homage to wine dinners, capturing leftover wine from dinner parties in small glass bottles with pieces of a wine barrel waxed shut and placed on what would be considered a large herb rack. The display took barrel design to another level, as did the gala.

"It's a new direction," said Kristine Bretall, The Center's marketing and performing arts director. "It's got a festival feel."

Stilt walkers led a very jazzy entertainment band, the March Fourth Marching Band from Portland, Ore., into the gala at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge to kick off the live-auction dinner. The colorful and unique ensemble of musicians and performers was a spectacle under the big tent, which was inspired and created by Emily Farber, The Center's wine auction coordinator.

"She did an incredible job," said Kristin Poole, The Center's co-executive director. "It was beautifully done and very imaginative."


Winemakers came from around the Northwest and California to attend the gala and bid, which was done in extreme generosity to support The Center,

"Financially, things went really well," Poole said. "We exceeded our expectations, which is always delightful."

Poole said the enthusiasm of everyone involved, from winemakers to the army of volunteers needed to make the auction a success, was incredible.

"We grossed over $1.2 million," she said. "For Sally [Boettger] and I, this is really exciting as our first year as co-executive directors."

The annual event is the primary fundraiser for the Ketchum-based arts organization. This year, the community showed broad support for all The Center does. A packed gourmet picnic at Warm Springs Ranch on Saturday revealed how much locals and visitors love wine-auction weekend.

"At the picnic, local businesses came together with plenty of food, great wine and support for The Center," she said. "... I hope these folks know how much we appreciate them because we could not do it without them. They just hit spot-on."

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