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Saturday’s Santa Barbara Wine Auction Honored Local Farmworkers

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Proceeds from the biennial event supported Direct Relief and Community Health Centers, which provide medical services to Santa Barbara’s farm laborers and their families.
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Stolpman Vineyards was awarded this year’s Vintner Honoree.
Actor Billy Baldwin emceed the dinner and auction.

Feb. 18, 2020 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) – The Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation is proud to announce this year’s Santa Barbara Wine Auction was a resounding success in its fundraising mission to bolster healthcare services for local farmworkers and their families.

Held on Feb. 15, at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, leaders of the Santa Barbara wine community, celebrities and philanthropists gathered for a gala of food, wine, music and two fundraising auctions.

“We could not be more proud of our vintners and friends, who reached deep into their pocketbooks to help our community,” said Jessica Gasca, President of the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation. “Our mission is Grounded in Giving, and our aim is to bring together and support the vital work of Direct Relief and Community Health Centers, which work tirelessly to serve this historically underserved segment of our Santa Barbara wine family.”

For 20 years, the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation has been active in sustaining and expanding Direct Relief’s health assistance for people in need, both locally and globally. This year, the Foundation additionally partnered with Community Health Centers (CHC), which is dedicated to providing healthcare in the Central Coast – with a special emphasis on agricultural workers.

The numerous auction lots included select and rare wines from Santa Barbara’s top producers, as well as once-in-a-lifetime wine and travel experiences. The top-earning travel lot was a luxury wine-and-safari trip for two in South Africa, graciously donated by Enthoven Family. The lot saw some the fiercest bidding of the evening, and was ultimately won for $30,000. The largest single wine lot went for an exclusive FOXEN wine dinner for 60 people at Industrial Eats featuring rare and exclusive wines from the winery. The lot went for $28,000.

The evening finale was a paddle raise with direct contributions, and actress Jane Lynch was the first person to raise her paddle for the $10,000 level. Winemaker Jim Clendenen, of Au Bon Climat, bested his wine peers by pledging a record-high $15,000 in direct contributions. Additionally, Jackson Family Wines matched every $250-level pledge up to $25,000, marking one of the most successful $250-level drives in the Auction’s history.

In addition to funds raised, the Foundation is especially proud this year’s event has helped forge what will be a lasting partnership between Direct Relief and Community Health Centers, a synergy that will further benefit Santa Barbara’s farmworkers beyond Saturday’s auction.

“Disasters call attention to those who are most vulnerable,” Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief told the crowd Saturday. “But those who are in the most need, are those who were the most vulnerable the day before the disaster. These are the people who attend [CHC’s] clinics and who you are supporting tonight.”

Ron Castle, CEO of, CHC agreed.

“The medically underserved farmworkers are who we at CHC are working for and why we are gathered tonight,” Castle said. “And I have to say, we are humbled by this amazing show of support, and you, the Santa Barbara wine community need to be commended.”

During the evening, the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation also honored this year’s Vintner Honoree, Stolpman Vineyards, for its community leadership and its unparalleled dedication to the farmworker community.

“The Stolpman family epitomizes our mission and we couldn’t be more pleased to honor them as this year’s Vintner Honoree,” said Gasca.

Emceed by film and television star – and Santa Barbara resident – Billy Baldwin, the gala featured a four-course meal directed by Peter Lee, executive chef of Loquita Santa Barbara, a wide selection of wines from Santa Barbara vintners and music by electronic violinist SPAGS Music. An elite team of guest sommeliers managed the wine service throughout the evening.

About Santa Barbara Wine Auction

The biennial Santa Barbara Wine Auction has evolved through the years with the partnership of the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation and Direct Relief, and now Community Health Centers. The 2020 Wine Auction marked its 11th year of gathering together to support and strengthen our community. https://sbwineauction.org.

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