Women in wine were at the forefront of the Nashville Wine Auction's 39th-annual l'Eté du Vin, held Aug. 2–4. The event celebrated and honored several leading women of the industry, highlighting their wines. In the process, it raised more than $1.2 million for local cancer-fighting organizations, a new record for the event, including $758,750 in live-auction bids.
L'Eté du Vin last honored women in wine 20 years ago. Veteran winemaker Zelma Long, an international consulting winemaker and the second woman to graduate from the University of California at Davis' enology program, was honored both in 1998 and this year. "My presence as a senior and leading winemaker for decades sends a message that women have been, and continue to be, major contributors to the pleasure and presence of wine in people's lives," said Long.
"I thought it was time for a reunion of our original women in wine—women have more representation in the wine world than ever before," said Tom Black, the event co-chairman and longtime wine collector who helped coordinate the event. "I [also] wanted to break $1 million. We hadn't done it in several years."
Joining Long were six other female guests of honor—Vitalie Taittinger of Champagne Taittinger, Shannon Staglin of Staglin Family Wines, Pam Starr of Crocker & Starr Wines, Marimar Torres of Marimar Estate Vineyard & Winery, Lindy Novak of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery and Jenne Lee Bonaccorsi of Bonaccorsi Wine Company. Each presented selections from their wineries and answered questions from the crowd of enthusiastic attendees at the Vintners' Tasting, which kicked off the weekend. Guests also enjoyed selections from the guests of honor at the final l'Eté du Vin reception and auction.
"There's a tremendous increase in women winemakers, and I think that's logical and normal, and the way it should be," said Torres, who presented her Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay 2016 and Marimar Estate Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir 2014 at the Vintners' Tasting.
Following the Vintners' Tasting was the Friday Patrons' Dinner and Champagne reception, where wines like Taittinger's Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne 2006 were poured. The main l'Eté du Vin event on Saturday offered more than 60 live-auction wine lots, including a customizable six-day trip to Bordeaux for four people that sold for $40,000 and a seven-day Chilean wine tour for six people, which sold for $40,500.
"I've done the auction for about 10 years and this was the best [yet]—a lot of participation, a lot of attendees and the wine was fabulous," said auctioneer Fritz Hatton. "It's a fairly old fashioned–style charity wine auction in that there are a lot of pure wine lots and people come for that."
While this year's focus was on celebrating women in wine, every year's event is dedicated to uniting the wine community to help fight cancer. Saturday night's live-auction paddle-raise lot, headed by cancer survivor Gary Musick, generated a record $93,500.
"I think that it's a great event and a great party that's a lot of fun, but it's also for a great cause," said Staglin. "We're doing this for a bigger purpose and helping others."
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