Taboo topic helps SWFL Wine & Food Fest raise $3.16 million

Midway through the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest’s Grand Tasting & Auction on Saturday, somewhere around the $2.2 million mark, emcee Kellie Burns stopped.

She quieted the crowd of generous attendees, a crowd that had been sipping exclusive wines and eating plates from renowned local and national chefs for the last several hours at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

She asked the drum line to set down their sticks. She asked the women in sparkly dresses and feather boas for their attention.

“I need everybody to listen right now, we’re about to get serious,” Burns said as the tent hushed.

She talked about the lack of mental health care in our state and region, touching on the battles her own family has faced with eating disorders and depression.


SWFL Wine & Food Fest Preview Party

 photo-7On Thursday, Feb. 9, donors, trustees and sponsors of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest gathered at the Southwest Florida Performing Arts Center in Bonita Springs for a preview party in anticipation of uncorking the power of giving at the upcoming 2017 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest event. Hosted by the organization’s three beneficiaries, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College, the evening included a reception and dinner featuring an assortment of fine wines.

Auctioneer Scott Robertson and NBC-2 anchor Kellie Burns presented highlights of the 40 auction lots featuring exclusive getaways, luxurious wine and culinary offerings and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be available for bid at the Live Auction. In addition, this year’s Child Artists, Leo and Lola Grabinski, made a special appearance, and Kellie Burns made a special plea in support of this year’s fund-a-cause initiative for pediatric mental and behavioral health care services at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

The 2017 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest’s Chef Vintner Dinner will take place on Friday, Feb. 24, followed by The Grand Tasting and Live Auction on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.


This article first appeared in Gulfshore Life, February, 2017


Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Raises $4.6 Million

· by Amy Liefberfarb · 

DSC_0412Drink wine created from an award winning region, enjoy food made by famous chefs, and…raise money for children in need.

Since the events inception, many hardworking and deserving nonprofits in the local community have received funds from Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s Harvest Auction.  Funds raised from this crucial event play an important role in many non-profit budgets to help make critical differences in Sonoma County.


Upcoming Fundraisers; October 5, 2016

· Cape Coral Daily Breeze ·  

* Preview Party for ACT

The Arts for ACT “The Disco Ball” Gala & Fine Art Auction will be presented by Bill Smith Appliances and Electronics, on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Harborside Event Center, 1375 Monroe Street in Fort Myers, from 5 until 10 p.m.

The lineup at this year’s gala includes artwork from featured artist Sherry Rohl, as well as showcased artists, including Jan Ellen Atkielski, David Belling and Christine Reichow.

The organizers of this year’s Arts for ACT “The Disco Ball” Gala & Fine Art Auction encourage participants to don their finest polyester and platform shoes as the party will feature a live performance by “The Original Studio 54 Band,” incredible art from local and international award-winning artists; with auctioneer Scott Robertson conducting the live auction. There will be cocktail drinks provided by the Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery, extraordinary food, and mobile bidding for the silent auction and raffle, with prizes valued at over $20,000.

For more information visit: or call (239) 939-2553.

Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction Grows, Raising Record-Breaking $4.6 Million

This article first appeared on September 6, 2016 on

SONOMA, Calif.–Under a tent that transported auction guests from Sonoma to Marrakesh, the 2016 Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction held on Sunday, September 4 at Chateau St. Jean Winery, sponsored by Visa Signature® and TricorBraun WinePak, exceeded the earnings of prior years with proceeds that totaled more than $4,600,000 at the annual fundraising finale of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.


Bidders support the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction highest grossing lot of the day, the Fund the Future Lot which supports the Sonoma County wine industry’s childhood literacy initiative. Photo by George Rose

Vintners and winegrowers from across Sonoma County hosted 650 guests who raised their paddles high to support the event that will benefit a number of local charities, and continue the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction focus upon the Fund the Future initiative, a multi-year commitment to improve childhood reading levels across Sonoma County.

Encouraged by Auctioneer Scott Robertson, bidders raised paddles throughout the afternoon which began with ambient belly dancers and a live camel, to win lots that ranged from extremely-limited wines, to exclusive trips and experiences.

The top selling lot of the day, the Two Nights of Hollywood Glamour with a trip to the VIP Golden Globes Party and a Private Film Screening was contributed by Jean-Charles Boisset and Buena Vista Winery and sold for $220,000.

The highest grossing lot of the day, the Fund the Future Lot which supports the Sonoma County wine industry’s childhood literacy initiative, raised over $2,700,000. Dozens of children from the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley took the stage along with members of Transcendence Theatre Company, inspiring the audience as they performed the moving hit song “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical “Rent.”

“Fund the Future is focused upon children’s literacy and it’s so important for the wine industry to give back,” said Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne Winery, a Sonoma County native, father of three and Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2016 Co-Chair. “This is so important for us as a community, as 54% of the kids in Sonoma County are reading below grade level, which is not sustainable or acceptable. We need kids to learn to read, so that they can read to learn. If kids can read, they will succeed.”

The top wine-only lot which sold for $65,000 was a collection of 153 magnums of wine, which celebrated the Ladies of Magnum Force, women of the Sonoma wine world that have raised more than $500,000 over the last 13 years.


Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction Reaps Record $4.6 Million

Scott on stage holding child - source Alvin Jornada the press democrat

Scott Robertsonon stage holding child
Source Alvin Jornada the press democrat

This article was originally written by Peg Melnik and published in The Press Democrat on September 4, 2016.

The theme, “Sonoma to Marrakesh,” featuring a live camel weighing more than a ton and a host of belly dancers, set the stage for Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Kenwood’s Chateau St. Jean that raised a record $4.6 million.

The top group lot of the day among the 650 paddle-holders was “Fund the Future” for children’s literacy at $2.7 million, up from last year’s $1.9 million.

Dan Kosta, the auction’s honorary chairman, was the first to donate $250,000 on behalf of the entire team at Sebastopol’s Kosta Browne Winery, as well as friends and supporters of the winery.

“My children are reading at grade level or above, but that’s the minority in this county,” Kosta said. “A total of 53 percent of third graders are reading below grade level.”

Others contributing $250,000 included Mary Dewane and Joe Anderson of Santa Rosa’s Benovia Winery, the Gallo Family in honor of the late Margrit Mondavi and the Jackson Banke Family of Jackson Family Wines.

Paddle-holders contributed at a range of price points, from $250,000 down to $500, and the bidding began with a sentimental touch. As two dozen kids took the stage wearing bright yellow shirts and holding black-and-white signs with “I read every day” and “I like to read to my dog” members of the Transcendence Theater sang “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent.”

When Gina Gallo later took the microphone to make her contribution, she surprised the crowd when she made a tearful request.


The Founders Fund raises over $300,000 for college scholarships

This article was written by Sue Huff and originally published on April 7, 2016 on

The Founders FundThe Founders Fund raised over $300,000 at the Ed Brennan Memorial Golf Tournament and Banquet which was held at The Club Pelican Bay on April 4. The event had over 260 guests in attendance.

The Founders Fund, which was founded in 1991, is a non-profit charitable organization which provides financial assistance to students from Collier County in their pursuit of a higher education. With the success of the event, more Collier County students will be receiving scholarships this coming year.

The day-long event includes golf, lunch, cocktail hour, dinner, raffle, plus silent and live auctions. Banquet attendees were treated to a gourmet meal prepared by Chef Joe of The Club Pelican Bay.

Auctioneer Scott Robertson got the crowd energized to bid on some incredible vacations. Bringing in the top bid of $10,000 was a Mediterranean Cruise on the Holland America’s cruise ship the Konigsdam, which was donated by Preferred Travel of Naples.


Scott Robertson Auctioneers Help Raise $2.5M at 2016 SWFL Wine & Food Fest

2016 SWFL Wine and Food Fest News-Press article

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SWFL Wine & Food Fest raises $2.5 million for Golisano Children’s Hospital

2016 SWFL Wine & Food Fest article - Naples Daily News

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