Jackson and Gallo Share All on the Upcoming Sonoma County Wine Auction

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Scene from previous Sonoma County Wine Auction

The Sonoma County Wine Auction offers an unforgettable experience, featuring distinct wines, delectable food and incredible generosity.

This year, Christopher Jackson, of Jackson Family Wines, and Gina Gallo, of E. & J. Gallo Winery, will co-chair the event, which runs from September 19 to 21, bringing generations of winemaking acumen and leadership to Sonoma County’s leading fundraising event. I caught up with Christopher and Gina to get the scoop on this year’s event that has raised more than $30 million since its inception

Congratulations on being named co-chairs for this year’s event. What does this honor mean to you? 

A: Christopher Jackson

I am thrilled at the opportunity to give back to my local community. Sonoma County means so much to my family and me. It is our home. We owe our success to the bounty our farmland has to offer and the pioneering and resilient culture of our local people. We can support 65 local charities through this auction and give back to a community that has given so much to us. It’s an honor to co-chair a philanthropic effort of this magnitude with Gina Gallo.

Christopher Jackson of Jackson Family Wines

A: Gina Gallo

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to give back to Sonoma County.  My grandfather and great uncle fell in love with this place a long time ago.  My brother Matt was Auction Chair a few years ago. Now it’s my turn.  One of the wonderful attributes of Sonoma County is the sense of community – I love doing my part to contribute.  But I can’t do it alone – I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Chris on this project and can’t say enough nice things about him and his family.  We’re both doing this because we love Sonoma County.  It’s been a humbling experience to see people step up and support this auction.

Gina Gallo, of E. & J. Gallo Winery

Do you have a favorite event during the Sonoma County Wine Auction? Is it Best Party Ever, Vintner Dinner, or the Auction? Tell us what you enjoy about it. 

A: Christopher Jackson

This Thursday’s Best Party Ever is an extraordinary event. With a name like that how could it not be?

Scene from previous Sonoma County Wine Auction

The combination of great local food, remarkable local wine, a casual atmosphere, a beautiful venue, and music that you can’t help but dance to makes Best Party Ever extraordinarily fun.

Best Party Ever kicks off the Sonoma County Wine Auction.
It’s being held this Thursday at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

A: Gina Gallo

There is an energy at the Sonoma County Auction that is unique. I walk in and I get a little bit choked up because I feel it – there is such a desire to contribute and such a strong commitment to support this amazing community.  I especially appreciate the Fund-A-Need paddle raise at the live auction.  When you look across the audience and see all those paddles go up it is powerfully emotional.

Scene from previous Sonoma County Wine Auction

How does the Sonoma County Wine Auction support the local community?

A: Christopher Jackson

The money raised comes from a variety of sources that include auction lot sales, ticket sales, sponsorship and private donations. After operational costs, the proceeds go to the many charitable non-profits the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation supports. We have an incredible amount of momentum behind this year’s auction. I believe we are on track to break new fundraising records. 

Gina and I have a passion for children and children’s education.  We are particularly excited and proud of the Fund-A-Need paddle raise where guests will be able to contribute to the construction of a new Boys & Girls Club in Roseland, one of our county’s most underserved areas.  In addition, we will continue to support our ongoing commitment to literacy programs. We are proud to share that within Sonoma County, 56 percent of public schools received support from beneficiary organizations of the Fund the Future initiative.

Scene from previous Sonoma County Wine Auction

A: Gina Gallo

Since its inception, the auction has raised over $30 million for Sonoma County non-profit organizations. Through the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation we enable organizations that feed the homeless, improve mental health for those in need, provide nutrition to pantries for vulnerable families, inspire young minds with music and theater and have the ability to respond to unexpected challenges this county may face in the future. This community truly flourishes from this philanthropic endeavor and the support of its generous attendees.  

Who are some of the wine superstars and local celebrity chefs?

A: Gina Gallo

We have 83 Sonoma County wineries participating in this year’s auction, so the event will be filled with wine superstars. I’m excited to be recognizing legendary winemaker Merry Edwards as our Vintner Honoree at this year’s event. She’s has had an outstanding career. Merry was one of only three women in the enology program at UC Davis in the 70s, and the only one at that time who became a winemaker following graduation. I respect her a great deal.

Vintner Honoree, Winemaker Merry Edwards

A: Christopher Jackson

As our culinary chair, Chef Dustin Valette of Valette Healdsburg has worked tirelessly to assemble an extraordinary group of 11 local chefs who will be cooking some incredible dishes for the event.  

Culinary chair, Chef Dustin Valette of Valette Healdsburg

Among them, two-time James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Restaurateur and this year’s Sonoma County Wine Auction Chef Honoree, John Ash.  Many refer to Chef John Ash as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine.  In 1980, he opened John Ash & Company in Santa Rosa, which gained international acclaim and continues to be critically applauded. He is a cookbook author, hosted two shows on Food Network, co-hosted a radio show for 32 years and served as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone. 

Sonoma County Wine Auction Chef Honoree, John Ash

Tell us about your 2019 Auction Lot.

A: Christopher Jackson

My wife and I are huge country music fans. We’ve arranged an incredible private evening with GRAMMY Award-winning Lady Antebellum. Lady Antebellum is one of the most celebrated bands in country music and has released nine #1 hits, earned seven GRAMMY Awards, and sold more than 18 million albums. This incredible evening of music and wine will be elevated even further by immersing our guests in the luxurious outdoor lifestyle that embodies wine country living.

To be held at the newly constructed Wing & Barrel Ranch private clubhouse, the evening’s entertainment will be set against the expansive views of their stunning 1000-acre ranch in Sonoma. Our guests will meet the music superstars, enjoy the exclusive member experience Wing & Barrel Ranch offers,and be treated to an array of delicious food & wine, including select large-format wines from the Jackson Family’s personal collection of Stonestreet releases.

Jackson Family Auction Lot: Private evening with GRAMMY Award-winning Lady Antebellum

A: Gina Gallo

I have personally curated a trip to Italy to visit some of its most remarkable wineries – and interesting people – in the world of wine. The lot includes business-class airline tickets for four; insider experiences and wine tastings in Milan, Piedmont, Verona, Fumane, Florence and Montalcino; and a case of my favorite wines from Sonoma County and beyond to help remember your trip.

In Piedmont –you’ll focus on Barolo with a personal tour from Pietro Ratti, principal of the iconic Italian producer Renato Ratti. The day ends with a private dinner with Pietro featuring library vintages from his cellar. North of Verona, world-renowned Allegrini Winery CEO Marilisa Allegrini will give a private tour of her estate, Palazzo della Torre in Fumane before leading guests through an intimate cooking class in her personal kitchen.  In Tuscany, the winning bidder or bidders will spend the day exploring Sangiovese with iconic Brunello di Montalcino producer Argiano. As a bonus, if your travel dates sync up, I might even join you as your tour guide at one of the cities!

Allegrini Winery. Gina Gallo Auction Lot Italian Getaway

Why is the Sonoma County wine region special to you? 

A: Gina Gallo

Sonoma County as a wine region is unique for its diversity.  This is one of the reasons why my grandfather and great uncle fell in love with this place.  You can grow Cabernet Sauvignon in the Alexander Valley…and Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley and…. Pinot Noir on the Sonoma Coast…and Zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley and on and on.  This region has it all –and the wines made with these grape varieties are among the best in the world.  I love it and can’t get enough of it.  I would urge your audience to spend some time here!

A: Christopher Jackson

I couldn’t agree more. Sonoma County is one of the most complex and diverse wine regions in the world. Sonoma County has extraordinary soil diversity, elevation, coastal influence, and topography. At the auction and on any visit to Sonoma County, guest should be prepared to drink and reflect upon world-class expressions of Burgundy varieties, Bordeaux varieties, and Rhône Varieties. Our diversity of microclimate leads to our diversity of great wine.

Tickets to this weekend’s Sonoma County Wine Auction are still available. The event runs this Thursday-Saturday.

Editorial Credit Lady Antebellum: Debby Wong / Shutterstock

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