In its most successful wine auction ever, the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation (SBVF) hit its ambitious $1 million dollar goal to support the work of medical aid organization Direct Relief at the eighth biennial Santa Barbara Wine Auction held Saturday evening at the Bacara Resort & Spa.
Celebrities Jane Lynch, Emilio Estevez, and Shiri Appleby were among the more than 600 guests who attended the exclusive event emceed by Chris Harrison, host of ABC’s hit reality show “The Bachelor.”
With a 1930s theme of “Hollywood and Wine,” the black-tie gala featured an exquisite four course dinner crafted by James Beard nominated guest chef Jon Shook together with Bacara staff. The food was complimented with private reserve wine tastings from more than 40 of Santa Barbara County’s most celebrated vintners.
The live and silent auctions included once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including rare library wines, an opportunity to attend the ten-year reunion of the Oscar-winning film Sideways, and even a private lunch with Direct Relief’s remarkable 106-year-old volunteer, Edythe Kirchmaier. Additionally, the SBVF recognized Rick and Diana Longoria of Longoria Wines as Pioneer Vintners as well as Barbara Banke of Jackson Family Wines as a Distinguished Vintner in a brief award ceremony.
Attendees gave more than $250,000 in the Stand Up and Be Counted portion of the event, in which guests raised their paddles to join Direct Relief in reducing preventable maternal and infant death. Nearly 300,000 women die from childbirth-related complications each year — 99 percent of such tragedies in developing countries. The funding will enable Direct Relief to continue equipping midwives to attend and provide clean, safe births, one of the most critical interventions to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.
As the Santa Barbara Vintners charitable “arm,” the SBVF has gifted more than $3 million toward Direct Relief’s efforts since 2000. Among other things, SBVF funding helped launch Direct Relief USA, now the largest charitable medicines program in the United States operating in all 50 States, and a childhood pneumonia initiative that has cut death rates dramatically in rural Liberia.
To help get guests home safely, Direct Relief partnered with Uber, a mobile app that allows the user to request a ride and connect with a driver for immediate transportation.