Buy some wine, do some good.

By Ray Isle
Updated May 30, 2020
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Franziska & Tom Werner / Getty Images

A host of major wineries in Napa Valley and beyond have teamed up with Winebid.com for a weekly auction to raise money for the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, which is providing direct financial assistance for workers in need and to restaurants because of closures due to Covid-19.

Every Sunday evening, starting April 5, will see new donated lots for that week’s auction. Full details can be found online at 86LostWages.org. The online auctions will be live starting at 7:15 p.m. Pacific Time every Sunday and end at 7:00 p.m. the next Sunday, immediately before the next auction starts (auction lots are not visible until the start time). Needless to say—but let’s say it anyway—this is an excellent way to help out the many, many restaurant workers who are at need right now, and end up with a bottle or two of great wine at the same time.

All revenue from the auction will go to the RWCF Covid-19 Relief Fund, half of which goes to restaurant workers directly. The other half is evenly divided between 0% loans to restaurants and donations to non-profit organizations that serve restaurant workers. (The only reduction in the proceeds is a 9% sellers’ premium to cover inventory, warehousing, packaging and so on; WineBid’s standard sellers’ premium is 18%, but it’s been halved for this auction.) WineBid CEO Russ Mann says, “We care about the greater wine and hospitality industry, and all the frontline workers impacted around the country, including somms, servers, chefs and kitchen teams, as well as all of the winery workers impacted, so we felt it was important to participate. It's an honor to leverage our auction platform and buyer base to generate proceeds for a worthy cause.”

At present, over 35 wineries are contributing lots to the auction, which starts on Sunday, April 5. However, the auction will be weekly, and many more are planning to participate as it continues. The names range from the ultra-famous (and ultra-high-end) such as Screaming Eagle and Ovid  to less familiar—but excellent—producers such as Purlieu and Fantesca. Classic producers such as Caymus and Staglin are also stepping up to contribute.

Many of these are rare lots. For the first week’s auction, Staglin Vineyards contributed an etched magnum of its 2016 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet, one of only 60 produced. Shannon Staglin says, “We have so many friends in the hospitality and restaurant industry that are heavily impacted by Covid-19, whether they’ve lost their jobs or are furloughed, so we wanted to do something that was a collector’s item, in hope of bringing higher bids and more money for the cause. It’s so little compared to what the need is, but every little bit helps.”

Napa Cabernet star Memento Mori will donate a six-year vertical of their wine plus a magnum of the current 2017 vintage, valued at roughly $2,200, for the second auction, which will start on April 12. Co-founder Adam Craun says, “Memento Mori is donating wine to help the individuals that have so graciously supported our brand for so many years. Helping support our food and beverage community now is simply the right thing to do. We are all in this together.” Regarding the Memento Mori lots, he adds, “This is the first time we’ve offered this founders’ library vertical to an auction. It’s pretty special—we hope others feel the same way.”