This year’s Sonoma County Wine Auction (SCWA) raised more than $1.8 million to fund Sonoma County Vintners Foundation (SCVF) community grants.

Held at Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery on September 17, the proceeds will help fund organizations that support education, literacy, health and human services, environmental concerns, and arts/culture.

Sonoma County Vintners Executive Director Michael Haney welcomes SCWA guests to the beautiful Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery. Photo Credit: Alexander Rubin Photography.

Since its inception, the auction has raised more than $40 million.

Bill Foley and SCWA Honorary Chair the Foley Family kicked off the Fund-A-Need Paddle Raise. Photo Credit: Alexander Rubin Photography.


This year’s SCWA celebrated the Foley family as the honorary chair, Jean-Charles Boisset as the vintner honoree, and Dustin Valette as the chef honoree. “We wanted to recognize their passion, expertise, and incredibly kind hearts. These honorees have spent countless hours giving back to our Sonoma County community, and we are grateful for their support in making this year’s SCWA a success,” said Michael Haney, Sonoma County Vintners executive director.

SCWA Vintner Honoree Jean-Charles Boisset and SCWA Chef Honoree Dustin Valette. Photo Credit: Alexander Rubin Photography.

“Having been born and raised here in Sonoma County, I’ve been a long-time believer that we live in magical place,” said Valette. “As chef honoree, I’ve had the opportunity to share this amazing place we call home with our friends, neighbors, and visitors. I’m honored to be able to work alongside these amazing vintners, winegrowers, and artisans showcasing the best of Sonoma County.”

Guests enjoy wine paired with delicious bites. Photo Credit Alexander Rubin Photography.

“It has been a great privilege and joy to serve as vintner honoree this year! As a member of the Sonoma County community, it is our duty to ensure the community is thriving,” said Boisset. During the 3-day event, Boisset also hosted the Best. Party. Ever. at Buena Vista Winery on Friday, September 16, with a fabulous evening of exceptional wine, food, and celebration set to a Roaring Twenties theme.

Jean-Charles Boisset (left) hosts Best. Party. Ever. at Buena Vista Winery. Photo Credit: Alexander Rubin Photography.

The Auction’s Stars

While the auction offered many unique opportunities, two in particular garnered the most attention. Lot 15, a private Kauai estate getaway, was so popular it had to be tripled. The lot featured a stay at the Foley family’s Hale ’Ae Kai ™ estate, including air travel, private chef, and Foley Family wines. With three winning bidders, the total proceeds came to $182,000.

Another favorite was Lot 7, which included a trip with Jean-Charles Boisset from Paris to Burgundy, Michelin-starred restaurants, and VIP tastings at famous vineyards. This lot raised $110,000 from two winning bids. 

Competitive bidding led to lot donors generously doubling or tripling offerings. Photo Credit Alexander Rubin Photography.

“It is truly inspiring to see the wine community come together to raise money for Sonoma County charities. The venues were spectacular, the honorees were charismatic and deserving of recognition, and most importantly, $1.8 million dollars was raised that will go directly back into our county,” said Clay Mauritson, of Mauritson Wines and Sonoma County Vintners board president.

Clay and Carrie Mauritson. Photo Credit Alexander Rubin Photography.

Vintner Dinners

The event began on September 15 with a series of vintner dinners around the valley. I attended the one at Bricoleur Vineyards in Windsor. The winery produces Chardonnays, Syrahs, Viogniers, a scrumptious Rosé and other varietals.

I was treated to the perfect five-course, estate-to-plate dinner, with produce coming from the estate’s own gardens. The food pairings were impeccable, living up to Chef Thomas and Farmer Mikey’s reputation.

“Supporting Sonoma County charities is really important to my family and me,” said Bricoleur Vineyards’ Co-Founder & CEO Mark Hanson. “We were delighted to host such a meaningful dinner leading up to the Sonoma County Wine Auction.”

Vintner Dinner at Bricoleur Vineyards. Photo Credit: Jennifer Boden.

Hotel Les Mars 

To recharge between events, I stayed at the Hotel Les Mars in the heart of Healdsburg. A member of Relais & Châteaux, Hotel Les Mars is a little slice of France in Sonoma wine country. “We always look forward to auction weekend and welcoming attendees to Hotel Les Mars. This year was especially meaningful, because Chalk Hill Winery (part of our growing Foley portfolio) served as the auction venue,” said Demetri Smith, general manager at Hotel Les Mars.

Hotel Les Mars in the heart of Healdsburg. Photo Courtesy: Hotel Les Mars.

The Fund-A-Need

As always, the event’s highlight was the fund-a-need paddle raise, which focused on education and literary programs. A video from 2022 fund-a-need sponsor TricorBraun WinePak kicked off the bidding, which raised more than $595,000. The Foley family of Foley Family Wines, Gina Gallo of E. & J. Gallo Winery, and Rick Tigner of Jackson Family Wines anted up with $100,000 opening bids.

Gina Gallo of E. & J. Gallo Winery speaking at auction. Photo Credit Alexander Rubin Photography.

Mary Dewane and Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery, Carmen Castaldi of Rodney Strong Vineyards, and the Hamel family each contributed $50,000. 

The Sonoma County Wine Auction is one of the county’s premier events, and as usual, it did not disappoint. I look forward to next year’s event, September 14-16, 2023.