Sunshine filtered by budding trees bathed expectant guests of a luncheon at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa on Friday, lauded by greeter Squire Fridell as “the best day of year.”
It was the day the operators of 40-plus local nonprofit service organizations learned of the financial gifts their agencies will receive from the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and its Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction.
The news was good, historically so.
Bearing the tidings were Fridell, the actor and Glen-Lyon Vineyards and Winery owner who leads the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation, and Dutton-Goldfield Winery’s Dan Goldfield, head of the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation.
They announced to luncheon guests that charitable proceeds from last fall’s Sonoma Wine Country Weekend were a record $1,086,350.
That figure sparked a cheer from representatives of the beneficiaries. Chief among them are the organizations committed to improving child literacy — Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, Community Action Partnership and United Way of the Wine Country’s Schools of Hope — that will share $700,000.
The balance will be distributed among local charitable nonprofits. Goldfield said it’s a good day when the county’s wine grape growers and vintners can do something significant for organizations in service to humanity that are out doing “what we wish we had the time to do.”
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Korbel champagne, live music and enticing hors d’oeuvres welcomed a black-tie crowd to Vintners Inn on Saturday evening for a celebration of the oftentimes mutually transforming magic of volunteering in service to others.
The occasion was the Have a Heart benefit and gala of the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County. Guests wore their shimmering best, and the gathering place was awash in fresh spring flowers and dashes of purple, green and orange.
The pre-dinner social hour allowed for leisurely conversation, shopping for silent-auction treasures and visits to a well-stocked wine counter and Linda’s Libations, a cocktail bar hosted by Volunteer Center board member Linda Challoner.
Dinner boasted a duet of seasonal fresh fish and braised shortribs, complemented by mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. And then, chocolate mousse cake with caramel sauce and peanut brittle.
There was a live auction that featured some lavish items and getaway packages.
And then came the Next Best Thing.
This was an opportunity for Volunteer Center supporters perhaps unable to dedicate time to tutoring a public-school student through the Literacy Program to donate essential dollars instead.
The pledges may well translate into changed lives of local children in need of a caring person’s assistance with their reading, math and science.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bit of Louisiana bubbled up like gumbo in the heart of old Santa Rosa on Saturday evening.
There were “Hurricane” cocktails, Cajun-inspired foods, costumes a la Bourbon Street and dancing to Gator Nation.
The occasion at the historic West End neighborhood’s DeTurk Round Barn was a Mardi Gras Ball — a grand party with a bonus. It raised money to boost ArtQuest, the celebrated arts education program at Santa Rosa High School.
The evening’s hosts were volunteers with Friends of ArtQuest. They pampered and delighted their guests with specialty cocktails, wines donated by Francis Ford Coppola Winery and beer courtesy of Lagunitas.
Other amusements were nearly as plentiful as strands of beads on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans: a wine-bottle ring toss, a treasure-chest raffle and an auction of the irresistible desserts to be shared by tablemates and guarded from interlopers.
Some ArtQuest Mardi Gras Ball guests made themselves mysterious by concealing their identities behind keepsake masks created and put up for sale by ArtQuest students.
Additional dollars were generated for the multidisciplinary arts program by the bidding for items and lots in the silent and live auctions.
The evening closed with an opportunity to dance off those desserts to the zydeco, Cajun and New Orleans R&B tunes of the Gator Nation Band.