Big giving is back at one of the year's grandest wine events. The Naples Winter Wine Festival in Naples, Florida was held over the weekend. It raised $12 million for Collier County's underprivileged and at-risk children during the live auction of 70 one-of-a-kind auction lots. The total was healthily above last year's $8.1 million and over double the $5.1 million raised in economically gloomy 2009. The total nearly grazed the $12.2 million record set in 2006. The festival has brought in over $94.5 million since it began in 2001.
Approximately 580 festival guests were seated under a giant tent set on the grand lawn of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples bidding on lots that ranged from $30,000 to $1 million. The million-dollar lot was an 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture, Reina Mariana, by artist Manolo Valdés. The 2,000-pound sculpture had traveled to the festival grounds from New York City's Columbus Circle, where it had been on display. The top wine lot, modestly called Perfection, was a total of 100 bottles of 100-point wine in a custom cabinet. It equaled the highest bid of a wine-only lot in the festival's history at $400,000. A 39-bottle collection of Sine Qua Non, many in large format and including 100-point wines, captured a winning bid of $160,000; a 25-year complete vertical of Shafer's Hillside Select and 24 bottles of the vintner's Silver Anniversary Sensation, when released in 2013, resulted in a high bid of $150,000; and four magnums of Colgin Cellars IX Estate Napa Valley Red Wine went for $130,000.