Held August 5th-8th in Napa Valley, the annual V Foundation Wine Celebration raised more than $12 million to support V Foundation for Cancer Research.

The Foundation, inspired by the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach, has provided more than $260 million to date in support of advanced cancer research. Proceeds from this year’s event will fund cutting-edge immunotherapy studies.

“The V Foundation is truly a source of inspiration and generosity,” said Chairwoman Julie Maples. “In the last two years, while we’ve continued to deal with the pandemic, we’ve raised nearly $16 million dollars through the generous support of our sponsors, donors and our gala auctions. Throughout it all, we’ve held true to Jim Valvano’s legacy to ‘never give up’ as we continue to raise funds to support cancer research and programs.”

As part of their efforts, the V Foundation for Cancer Research has partnered with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI).

“We are always grateful for the chance to collaborate with organizations like the V Foundation who share our commitment to supporting the brightest rising stars in cancer immunotherapy research,” said Lisa Butterfield Vice President, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. “This year’s event raised money to support our Parker Bridge Fellows grant program, which provides critical funding, mentorship and access to the PICI network for our awardees, who are developing game-changing ideas that can lead to new treatments and improve patient outcomes.”

Dinner with the Docs

The weekend events were great fun, but they were also serious business and guests had ample opportunities to learn about the life-changing cancer research the foundation supports. 

The weekend kicked off on Thursday evening with with Dinner with the Docs, held outdoors at the gorgeous Far Niente winery. It’s not often you get to sit with some of the most accomplished oncologists and cancer researchers discussing some of the latest advances in cancer care.

“I am astonished by the progress we have seen in radiation therapy since I was a resident, said Dr. Theodore S. Lawrence, Professor and Chair Department of Radiation Oncology at University of Michigan.“There has been a spectacular increase in our ability to precisely target the tumor with radiation while avoiding the surrounding normal tissues.” 

In addition, the V Foundation is supporting lab and patient studies designed to optimize combination therapies with radiation, chemotherapy, targeted drugs and immunotherapy.

After dinner, guests were invited to Alpha Omega Winery to enjoy wine, tasty hors d’oeuvres and a private concert headlined by multi-platinum singer/songwriter Andy Grammer. 

Andy Grammer, Multi-platinum artist, singer, songwriter and record producer performs at the Dinner with the Docs after party at Alpha Omega Winery

Alpha Omega Proprietors Michelle and Robin Baggett, feel the V Foundation’s work is vital. “My husband and I both lost our mothers to cancer,” said Michelle Baggett, V Foundation Wine Celebration’s 2021 Vintner Ambassador. “This event introduced us to a new way to support cancer initiatives through cancer research. Research is so important in the fight to beat cancer.”

Rock the V Party

Friday’s outdoor Rock the V Party, featured some of the region’s best wines, as well as a stunning auction. The Vintner BBQ Showdown pitted winemakers Robin & Michelle Baggett, Blakesley and Cyril Chappellet, Jeff Gargiulo and Chuck McMinn against each other to show off their own culinary skills.

(L-R) Blakesley & Cyril Chappellet, Jeff Gargiulo, Robin & Michelle Baggett & Chuck McMinn, Vintner Grant Honorees at Rock the V

On Saturday, William Nelson, MD, PhD, Marion I. Knott Professor of Oncology Director, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and Sage Steele hosted the Answer for Cancer Research Symposium, which was held at the Estate Yountville. This provided another tremendous opportunity to discuss the trajectory of cancer research and care. 

“Our favorite part of the event is the symposium, when we get to hear from and ask questions of the leading cancer doctors from around the country,” said guest and cancer survivor, Tamar Goodfellow of Mākena, Maui. “These docs are the most amazing people on the planet. They are the heroes that you will probably never hear about.”

The Gala

Undoubtedly, the weekend’s highpoint was the Saturday night gala, which was held outdoors at Nickel & Nickel Estate Winery in Oakville. The delicious multi-course dinner was prepared by esteemed chef Michael Mina, whose cuisine was paired with the fabulous Nickel & Nickel Estate wines. After dinner, a rollicking live auction explored a wide range of wine country and packages. The bidding was, at times, spirited and the top lot – a weekend trip to join Duke University Coach Mike Krzyzewski (aka Coach K.) for his final home game – brought in $1 million.  

Alpha Omega’s Michelle and Robin Baggett, partnered with two of their closest vintner friends, Rich and Leslie Frank of Frank Family Vineyards and Cyril and Blakesley Chappellet of Chappellet, and donated the Pebble Beach Lux Getaway auction lot that raised $800,000.

(L-R) Jon Scheyer, Associate Head Coach Duke University (Coach K’s successor in 2022), Coach K, & Michael Marks, (bid $1 million dollars on Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium) at the V Foundation Auction Gala

Another one-of-a-kind lot featured a full VIP experience to the 2022 Daytona 500, complete with garage, pit and NASCAR luxury suite access, a logo on the car, Gemstone wines, his and hers Bell & Ross watches and a full day with Trackhouse team co-owners Justin Marks and multi-platinum artist Pitbull. The winning bid was $240,000.

The Great American Race, joining multi-platinum recording artist and NASCAR team owner Pitbull for an all-access VIP experience

“With our mother in remission herself for just less than 30 days, working with my brother and his NASCAR team to dream up this incredible lot, was not only a great use of our resources to raise much-needed research funds but was also a deeply personal collaboration,” said Amy Dornbusch, Proprietress of Gemstone Vineyard and V Foundation Wine Celebration board member. 

(L-R) Beth Nickel, Proprietress, Nickel & Nickel and Far Niente Winery, David Robinson, NBA Hall of Famer at the V Foundation Auction Gala

Other top lots included: 40-Love of Wine & Tennis, the semi-finals and finals at Wimbledon with Vintner Beth Nickel of Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel; Taste of the Tuscan Sun, an exclusive Napa Valley, Tuscan and Umbria itinerary hosted by Marchesi Antinori and Antica Estate; A Feast Fit for the Gods, featuring Michelin-decorated chef Michael Mina and his award-winning MINA Group and many more.

Chef Michael Mina, Award-winning chef and founder of the Mina Group at the V Foundation Auction Gala

“With the success of the 2021 event, the V Foundation Wine Celebration has once again united generous supporters, world-class vintners and talented chefs to raise essential funds to help us move toward Victory over Cancer,” said Shane Jacobson, CEO of the V Foundation. 

Chef Charlie Palmer and Vintner Jeff Gargiulo at Rock the V

The V Foundation was founded 28 years ago, when a cancer diagnosis was a much harder road. Decades of research have brightened the future of cancer patients worldwide. 

The 24th annual V Foundation Wine Celebration will be held on August 4-7, 2022. For more information about this year’s Wine Celebration Weekend visit www.winecelebration.org. For more on the V Foundation for Cancer Research, visit jimmyv.org.