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Taste of Vail reports record proceeds from wine auctions

CREATED: 2006-04-12 06:58 PM


Media contact:
Stephen Lloyd Wood, media liaison
(970) 949-9774

Taste of Vail reports record proceeds from wine auctions

VAIL, Colo. - With flavors and aromas from the nation's premier wine and culinary festival still swirling, organizers of the 16th annual Taste of Vail announce record proceeds from its charity auctions this year.

The festival, held April 5 through 8, grossed more than $43,000 in proceeds from its four live auctions alone. That's a 62 percent increase over last year, and nearly 50 percent more than the previous high set in 2004.

"Taste of Vail is all about benefiting Vail Valley charities and getting people to reach into their pockets to do so," says Mickey Werner, Taste of Vail's auctions chairman and general manager of Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail. "I'm thrilled about his year's results. We raised more money for charity than ever before."

A charitable, nonprofit organization, Taste of Vail has contributed more than $300,000 to Vail Valley charities over the years. This year's proceeds will be evenly distributed among the newly created Taste of Vail Educational Scholarship, a joint effort with ProStart and Eagle County; the Vail Valley Youth Foundation's soccer program; and other local charitable programs that otherwise would not be able to continue without additional funding. Final donation amounts will be announced later this year.

Werner, known as the "wine wizard" in local circles for his 28 years in the wine and spirits business, says wine auctions at Taste of Vail typically have been of the silent variety "with great - but not outstanding - results." Last year, raising the bar, he tried a live auction, working as auctioneer himself; and this year, reaching higher, Werner decided to bring in a professional auctioneer, Tom DiNardo of the nationally recognized DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers, based in Lynden, Wash.

"I've been on a crusade for eight years for a real live auction, with a real auctioneer, to generate the interest Vail Valley Charities deserve. Now, I believe this is the right venue, with the right means," says Werner. "These record proceeds validate our decision to go with live auctions. It's proven to be the way to raise more money."

At his first Taste of Vail, DiNardo conducted live auctions at the festival's three Chefs Showcase Dinners, as well as at the Grand Tasting, Auction & Dance, the festival's annual, decadent, unparalleled tasting and culinary spectacle, held Saturday, April 8, at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa. Ticket-holders indulged in three dozen unique culinary offerings from around the Vail Valley, sampled more than 150 different wines from around the world, danced the night away - and bid on a wide selection of wines, culinary and travel auction items donated by various wineries and sponsors.

The top five winning bids for prizes at the Grand Tasting included:
• $2,600 - Four VIP passes to the 2007 Hospice du Rhone wine festival in May, donated by Garretson Wine Company.
• $2,200 -6-liter etched bottles of both 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2003 Pinot Noir, donated by Amici Cellars, of Napa Valley, Calif.
• $2,200 - A signed magnum bottle of 2002 Chardonnay, along with a winery tour, tasting and lunch for four people, donated by Chalk Hill Estate, in Sonoma County, Calif.
• $2,000 - A 6-liter etched bottle of 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon, a winery tour, tasting and lunch for four people, donated by Napa Valley's Far Niente Winery.
• $1,800 - A 5-liter etched bottle of 1999 Pinot Noir Barrel Select, a winery tour, tasting and two nights accommodations, donated by Van Duzer Vineyards, in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

DiNardo, who already owned five world records for proceeds generated at charity wine auctions, calls such events "the hottest thing going in the auction business." Now he's boosted Taste of Vail's proceeds to a new record, too, half again more than the previous high in 2004 of $29,000.

"It was a tremendous honor and privilege to play a role in the nation's premier culinary arts and wine event," DiNardo says. "Working amid the sheer beauty of Vail and selling rare wines and lifestyle experiences to some of the world's top bidders - people who truly appreciate the finer things in life - was an amazing experience."

Susan Fritz, president of the Taste of Vail organization and owner of Sapphire Restaurant & Oyster Bar, says the record proceeds are "terrific." Giving credit not only to DiNardo and the more than 150 local volunteers, Taste of Vail also thanks Vail Resorts for donating on-mountain restaurants and facilities, as well as thousands of man-hours by mountain operations and food and beverage employees, she says.

"This festival would never happen without Vail Resorts," Fritz says.

The Taste of Vail was created in 1990 by a group of Vail Valley restaurateurs as a marketing event to showcase the resort's world-class restaurants. Now the internationally famous community boasts more than 20 Wine Spectator award-winning restaurants - the most of any resort community in the United States. An estimated 5,000 people participated in the festival this year.

For more information about Taste of Vail, visit or call 970-926-5665.

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(Note: High-resolution photos of Taste of Vail's auctions and other events are available upon request -SLW.)

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