Pictured are vintner Jeff Gargiulo, singer Billy Dean and Ron Kuhn. Photo by Lane Wilkinson
NAPLES, Fla. (Jan 25, 2014)—This year's 2014 Naples Winter Wine Festival gave reason to celebrate, with over $13.5 million raised for children's charities under the live-auction tent in one afternoon. Totals raised in the festival's 14-year history now exceed $125 million. One hundred percent of auction proceeds benefit Collier County's underprivileged and at-risk children through Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), the festival's founding organization.
550 guests gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. They were joined by internationally celebrated vintners, chefs and sommeliers. This year's festival, themed "Celebrate the Journey," was co-chaired by three women, Linda Richards Malone, Anne Welsh McNulty and Adria Starkey.
Amongst the 66 lots offered, the top money-raising lot was this year's Fund-A-Need "Beautiful Minds, A Children's Mental Health Initiative," in which guests stood up in the room and offered on-the-spot donations ranging from $1000 to $100,000. Total donations were $1.4 million.
The top wine lot, "Stunning Staglin," fetched $400,000. It featured four double-magnums of wine from Staglin and Domaine Michel Lafarge and a six-day Parisian and Burgundian wine adventure. Following spirited bidding, a second identical lot was donated. Each captured a bid of $200,000.
Honored vintner Olivier Krug celebrated with NCEF trustees Sandi and Tom Moran as they captured the coveted Krug lot, entitled "The Key to the Universe." The lot, which sold for $220,000, included a historic offering of bottles and a Krug sculpture "l'Ephemere Eternel" by Veronese.
This year's highest non-wine bids went to rare cars. "This Bull Can Run" garnered $900,000 for a 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Lamborghini Aventador, #45 of only 100 vehicles produced, together with access to the inaugural U.S. event for the Lamborghini Experienza program. Only 20 of these rare cars will be available in the United States. "Not Your Daddy’s Rolls," a 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith, brought in $750,000.
Extravagant trips around the world were another highlight of this year's offerings. "The Most Extraordinary Trip to Incredible Israel" including a six-night journey for two couples went for $450,000. "Bon Voyage with Bonaparte," a six-night barge river cruise from Tain-l'Hermitage to Arles, France aboard the Napoleon sold for $400,000.
The 2014 festival co-chairs were moved by the auction's success. "The energy under today's tent was electric. The generosity of our donors, sponsors, chefs and vintners is truly phenomenal," commented Ms. Malone. Ms. Starkey added, "With this resounding level of support, NCEF will continue its essential work in improving the physical, emotional and educational lives of children in our community."
"Through the dedication of NCEF's trustees, as well as our staff and volunteers, the Naples Winter Wine Festival has once again provided the venue for an astonishing demonstration of philanthropy. It is, year after year, a journey worth celebrating," said Ms. McNulty.
Festival events span three days, including a tour of children’s charities; intimate vintner dinners at NCEF trustees' homes where celebrity chefs including Bill Telepan, Michael Anthony and Barbara Lynch prepared the cuisine, with wines personally poured by Olivier Krug and other internationally acclaimed vintners; a wine-down party post-auction; and a celebratory Sunday brunch.
The Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) supports effective, disciplined charitable programs that significantly improve the physical, emotional and educational lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County, Florida. Since its founding in 2000, NCEF has funded 37 beneficiary organizations and seven trategic initiatives, helping to provide a better life for more than 150,000 children. Through NCEF funding, nearly 2.5 million meals have been served to the hungry, and health, dental health and vision services that were previously unavailable are now reality.
Festival dates for 2015 are January 23-25. Additional information is available at www.napleswinefestival.com.