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For the week of July 24 - 30, 2002

Arts and Entertainment

Grape lovers gather for premium weekend

Express Staff Writer

Wine, sunshine and song. So, the old saying’s been tweaked a bit. Suffice to say that this weekend is one in which those three aspects are spectacularly represented.

For 21 years the Sun Valley Center has been holding a wine auction to raise funds to support its myriad of educational and artistic programs. The proceeds from the auction cover 41 percent of the Center’s yearly revenue. Last year over $600,000 was raised for the Center.

The festive weekend begins on Thursday night with dinners and parties hosted for the vintners and patrons in private homes in Sun Valley and Ketchum.

New this year is a Special Cult Italian Wine Tasting conducted by Sergio Esposito of Manhattan's Italian Wine Merchants on Friday afternoon. It will highlight several classic wines, including Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Chianti and Brunello.

Held at the Thunder Spring clubhouse, the event coordinates with the theme of this year’s auction, Piazza Americana.

Esposito will discuss Italian wine resources in the United States as well as the recent history, trends, cutting edge developments and future of Italy's wine industry.

The cult wines Esposito will feature are similar to what we know as boutique wines from small wineries.

On Friday night the gala Wine Auction Dinner Dance takes place at the River Run Lodge. The live auction takes place this year prior to the sit down dinner, with auctioneer David Reynolds opening the bidding with a Scholarship Fund pledge drive.

Each paddle raised means an automatic $500 for the fund. This spring the Center awarded over $17,000 to 14 Wood River High School students to study ballet, printmaking, creative writing acting and music.

Following the auction an elegantly catered dinner is served under a tent on the lawn. The Peter Duchin Band is the featured entertainment.

Duchin, who is the son of Eddy and Marjorie Duchin, has many ties to the Sun Valley area. His father was the headlining orchestra leader when the Sun Valley Lodge opened in 1936 and the Duchin Room in the Lodge is named for him and his wife, who decorated the Lodge.

When Marjorie died, Eddy asked his friends Averell and Marie Harriman to care for his son Peter. Peter was raised by the Sun Valley Resort founder and his wife, while Eddy toured with his band

Among the lots that will be bid upon at the auction are a Sip and Sail trip in the San Juan Islands, a Great Vintages Dinner, a four-night package in the Adirondacks for eight, the Sun Valley Wine Auction Commemorative Bottle Collection with several premium reserve wines, and collections of wine bottles from vintners and artists.

There is also a spring time in Chianti trip and a package donated by the Wine Auction’s honorary chairman, Ted Baseler of Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates, in Washington.

This incredible lot includes many excellent wines as well as a collection of jaunts to Tuscany, the Columbia Valley, Snoqualimie Vineyard’s new winery, and the opening of Northstar Winery in Walla Walla, Wash.

The auction takes place amid Italian decorations that transform the River Run Lodge and the surrounding lawns and bridge. The reception previous to the auction features all "Cal-Ital" Italian wines and those with connections to Italian wineries.

For those who aren’t fortunate enough to attend the Wine Auction, the next best events occur on Saturday.

In the afternoon, a wine tasting is held on the Sun Valley Resort grounds where over 100 wines are sampled by as many as 1,200 oenophiles.

And that evening an outdoor picnic with live music by the Sensational Toastpoints is held for approximately 900 people. A fabulous array of wine and food from various area caterers and restaurants is served by dozens of volunteers on the Bigwood Golf Course.

On Sunday, a Champagne Brunch is served for the live auction buyers’ and Vinters at Cristina’s Restaurant in Ketchum.

After that … ? Well, may we suggest two aspirins and a nap?


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.