Charity Wine Auction Raises $14 Million in Four Hours – NAPLES, FL – The Naples Winter Wine Festival raised today $14 million under the auction tent for children’s charities, making it once again the most successful charity wine auction in the world. During the four-hour auction, attended by 635 guests at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, auction attendees bid on 72 one-of-a-kind, luxury lots, with winning bids ranging from $45,000 to $1 million. All monies raised under the tent go directly to children’s charities.

“Everyone involved in the festival — sponsors, donors, chefs and vintners, trustees, volunteers and guests — helps thousands of children in need through their contributions,” said Don Gunther, 2008 festival chair and Naples Children & Education Foundation trustee. “The festival is truly a labor of love, and its success pays tribute to our theme of Inspiring Tomorrow’s Heroes.”

The million-dollar bid was for an ultimate “star” experience from Staglin Family Vineyard for four people, which included tickets to the Oscars, a walk-on role on Desperate Housewives and Back to You, first class treatment in Hollywood and a movie-star style getaway to Cabo San Lucas. Other high bids included $450,000 for a 2009 Bentley Brooklands Coupe and $350,000 for a 2008 Maserati Gran Turismo.

Among wine lots, 75 bottles of Bordeaux wines from the 2000 vintage raised $220,000. A winning bid of $150,000 captured the auction’s first lot, a collection of 31 magnums of wine — each personally selected and signed by the highly acclaimed vintners participating in this year’s festival. A vertical of Harlan Estate wines from 1990 to 2004 also brought in $220,000.

Fantasy trips and experiences also brought in high bids. A pair of Screaming Eagle motorcycles sold for $240,000, and a trip to the Olympics sold for $350,000.

Since trustees of the NCEF founded the festival in 2001, it has raised more than $69 million to improve the lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County, Fla.

Festival events began on Friday, with guests experiencing firsthand how festival proceeds benefit needy children. A grant luncheon and wine tasting was followed by intimate vintner dinners at trustees’ homes prepared by famous U.S. chefs and internationally acclaimed vintners. Saturday kicked off with a wine tasting and culinary feast prepared by The Ritz-Carlton chefs from across Florida. A wine-down party Saturday evening will be followed by a Sunday celebration brunch prepared by several WCI Communities’ chefs, with chocolates and desserts prepared by Norman Love, the festival’s first featured chocolatier.

A portion of the funds raised at the 2008 festival will be distributed by NCEF trustees to children’s charities in March, with the remainder held in reserve for longer-term strategic-giving initiatives. For a complete listing of auction lots and additional information about the 2008 Naples Winter Wine Festival, visit