Saturday, 22 June 2024

Wine Alliance announces beneficiaries and new venue for annual charity event

Peter Ventura, an auctioneer for 2010 Lake County Wine Auction, lives in Hidden Valley Lake, Calif. Courtesy photo.




LAKE COUNTY – Five nonprofit organizations, five high schools, five senior centers and two health programs have been selected as beneficiaries of this year’s Lake County Wine Auction.

The event is put on by the Wine Alliance, a nonprofit organization of wineries, winegrape growers, vineyard owners, related businesses and community supporters.

The Wine Alliance, founded in 2000, has contributed more than $771,000 to foster the arts, benefit health services, and support the community while promoting Lake County as a premier growing region for fine wine grapes.

An all-volunteer board of directors and an auction committee plan and direct the annual charity event.

The year’s Wine Auction, the 11th annual, will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, at Ceago Vinegarden, between Nice and Lucerne.

Many organizations, agencies and programs submitted their funding requests to the Wine Alliance, demonstrating the number of programs in Lake County seeking financial assistance.

The recipient organizations will use their grants for the following projects.

The Arts: The fine arts programs at each of the five high schools in Lake County (Clear Lake High, Kelseyville High, Lower Lake High, Middletown High, and Upper Lake High) will share the funds in this category.

Health: Funds in this category will be shared equally by the Hilltop Recovery program, the St. Helena Hospital Clearlake Emergency Department and the Lake County Children’s Dental Disease Prevention Program.

Community: The Lake County Channel Cats will receive $1,500 and Operation Tango Mike will receive $3,500. The remaining funds in this category will be shared by the Lake County Community Action Agency for its Safe House, the Friends of the Lake County Library and the five senior centers that provide Meals on Wheels and nutrition programs.

Each of the beneficiary organizations will have a display at the Wine Auction, describing their programs and services, and encouraging additional support and participation by attendees.

Additional funds to be donated to the beneficiaries will be raised through the sale of limited edition fine arts posters reproduced from an original painting by John R. Clarke of Lake County.

Clarke has once again painted a signature work of art, using his unique style of watercolor-on-silk, to depict a view of the host venue.

The original painting, entitled “Beautiful Lake County – Ceago Vinegarden,” is on display at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro in Kelseyville and will be among the special items up for bid during the live auction portion of the gala event.

The posters sell for $20 each and are available for purchase at the tasting rooms of Steele Wines and Wildhurst Vineyards in Kelseyville, and Ceago Vinegarden and Tulip Hill Winery in Nice.

Additional locations to buy the poster include Focused on Wine in Kelseyville, and Inspirations Gallery by Salituri in Lakeport. Clarke will attend several community events during the summer to sell and sign posters.

Ceago Vinegarden, with its early California architecture and landscaping, will showcase fine foods and wines from Lake County restaurateurs, caterers and over 25 wineries at the annual event.

Live and silent auction items will include weekend and extended vacation getaways, wine packages, wine tasting events, local art, and a variety of goods and services, including fine dining opportunities.




Local sommelier Stephanie Green also will serve as an auctioneer at the 2010 Lake County Wine Auction. Courtesy photo.



The ticket price is $125 per person and includes participation in the auctions and dancing to the music of the LC Diamonds.

A special area to taste reserve wines from selected Lake County wineries will be offered for an additional fee collected at the event. A limited number of tickets is available by calling the Wine Alliance at 866-279-WINE (9463) or purchases may be made online at

Ceago Vinegarden is owned by Jim Fetzer, whose dream is to create a balanced and beautiful biodynamic farm and winery estate on the Northshore of Clear Lake.

At Ceago, Fetzer has taken everything he learned from his family’s success in building Fetzer wines into an internationally recognized and respected winery, along with his own forty years in the wine business, to develop a new level of farming. He concentrates on sound farming practices using biodynamic and organic methods to produce quality grapes and fine wines.

The auctioneer will be Peter Ventura of Hidden Valley Lake, assisted by Stephanie Green of Kelseyville. Ventura has conducted over a dozen charity auctions, each raising between $100,000 and $600,000.

Although retired from the wine business, his biography includes being a member of the famed Mondavi family of the Napa Valley and working for several years as a lab tech and assistant winemaker while in high school and college, prior to law school and becoming a practicing attorney.

Ventura moved to Lake County from St. Helena and has joined the Rotary Club of Clearlake and is a volunteer driver for the Middletown Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program.

Green is a certified sommelier through the Court of Masters Sommeliers who owns and operates Focused on Wine, a wine bar and tasting room in downtown Kelseyville. She is a wine educator, a private wine consultant, and noted cellar master of wines, on both the domestic and international wine scene.

She recently completed her first year with the Institute of the Masters of Wine and is locally recognized as a wine expert. Green is member of the Rotary Club of Lakeport, the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, and the Kelseyville Business Association.

Budge Brown, owner of Tulip Hill Winery and the Cleavage Creek wine label, is the honorary chair of the Wine Auction. Brown, a graduate of UC Davis, has been farming in California for more than 50 years.

With his daughter, Kristi, he opened Tulip Hill Winery at its location on Clear Lake’s Northshore in 2004, at the site of the historic Bartlett Springs water bottling plant. The facility features a unique tasting room, special event area and seasonal gardens that include 30,000 tulips.

Brown’s newest cause is his label, Cleavage Creek, which, in memory of his late wife, honors breast cancer survivors on every bottle, donating 10 percent of the gross proceeds to fund breast cancer research and offering medical support to those stricken with the disease. Brown also is an entrepreneur who invented the water slide and has traveled the world teaching others how to build them.




Budge Brown is honorary chair of this year's Lake County Wine Auction. Courtesy photo.



Rob Roumiguiere, partner in Roumiguiere Vineyards and Wine Alliance treasurer, is the master of ceremonies. The Lake County Military Funeral Honors Team will open the event with the traditional presentation of colors.

Special guests are Congressman Mike Thompson, co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus, and Jed Steele, owner and winemaker for Steele Wines.

Steele will be honored with a Congressional resolution for his many contributions to the California wine industry and, in particular, for his pioneering work in establishing the fine quality of Lake County wines.

Joy Merrilees, assistant winemaker for Steele Wines, will craft the special cuvee blends from juice donated by Lake County wineries.

Contributing to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon are Steele Wines, Moore Family Winery, Robledo Family Winery, Wildhurst Vineyards, and Noggle Vineyards and Winery.

Wineries donating to the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc are Steele Wines, Wildhurst Vineyards, Robledo Family Winery, Moore Family Winery, and Shed Horn Cellars. Major donors and special guests at the Wine Auction will receive a 750 milliliter bottle of each blend.

Additionally, the cuvees will be bottled in one 9-liter Salmanazar each, hand-etched and hand-painted with a mirror image of this year’s painting depicting Ceago Vinegarden, and offered in one lot during the live auction.

Major sponsors this year include Mendo Lake Credit Union and St. Helena Hospital Clearlake.

Members of the Wine Alliance board of directors include President Margaret Walker-Stimmel, Vice President Marie Beery and Treasurer Rob Roumiguiere, all of Kelseyville; Secretary Pamela Shine-Duncan and directors Judy Luchsinger and Wilda Shock, all of Lakeport; and directors Janet Thompson of St. Helena and Kaj Ahlmann of Lower Lake.

Additional sponsorship opportunities and group tables for $2,000 and $1,000 are available by contacting Marie Beery, co-chair, at 707-278-0129.

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