The Sun Valley Wine Auction

The annual summer event supports the cultural anchoring of the region, the Valley of the Sun Art Museum.

For more than four decades Valley of the Sun Wine auction hosted famous winemakers and wine lovers who come together for three days each summer to support the Valley of the Sun art Museum, a modest structure founded in 1971 in the heart of Ketchum, Idaho, in which local artists are exhibited in its small gallery. A cultural anchor for the community, this museum on a mission enriches the region through transformative arts and educational experiences.

The museum is home to a wealth of diverse visual arts, performing arts, humanities and education programs that serve nearly 24,000 people annually, 4,000 of whom are participating students in Wood River Schools Valley of Idaho. Responsible for approximately 50 percent of the museum’s annual budget, the auction allows the museum to offer its art programs for free.

“The wine auction-a Valley of the Sun tradition for over 40 years – is our premier fundraising event of the year,” Jennifer Wells Green, Executive Director of the Valley of the Sun Art Museum, says. “Over the course of several days, the event brings together an extraordinary mix of new and old friends and donors. Funds raised provide unparalleled experiences and scholarships in the arts to our community, especially our teens and young adults.

Sun Valley Wine Auction

The three-day event brings together 50 premium wineries, each sharing their wares with event-goers during a varied wine-focused lineup, such as the nine private winemaker dinners Valley of the Sun houses of museum supporters. Renowned chefs are flown in to collaborate with winemakers on perfectly matched menus, like the one enjoyed at Carol Swig’s Sky Horse Ranch where Dallas chef Kent Rathbun shinsei and Seafood and lovers’ market designed ideal courses to complement the wines of Dr. Madaiah Revana and his Revana portfolio: Revana family vineyard in Saint Helena, Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, and Corazon del Sol in Mendoza, Argentina.

Cardiologist Revana and her portfolio Revana frequently collaborate with America’s largest charity wine auctions. Passionate about giving back to organizations focused on children’s health and education, Revana participated in the Valley of the Sun Wine auction since 2018.

“It’s the community of Valley of the Sun that makes this auction unique,” ​​says Revana. “Everyone is so passionate about raising children and giving them access to the arts. These events are about connecting, sharing and building real friendships; many people we meet end up keeping in touch and visiting our vineyards in Oregon, Napa and Argentina.

“Many of our friends from Valley of the Sun have become great supporters who share our history and our wines with their friends, and with whom we have enjoyed staying in contact over the years.

Sun Valley Wine Auction

“The wine auction – a Sun Valley tradition for more than 40 years – is our premier fundraising event of the year,” said Jennifer Wells Green, executive director of the Sun Valley Museum of Art. “Over the course of several days, the event brings together an extraordinary mix of new and old friends and donors. Funds raised provide unparalleled experiences and scholarships in the arts to our community, especially our teens and young adults.

Auction participants were treated to something new this year with the addition of four symposia hosted by Valley of the Sun newcomer, Scout wines and cheeses. Scout’s curated series of garden patio wine tastings included flights of four varietals hand-picked by the Scout team to highlight a specific region, such as South Africa, for which Vinspire’s Neil Grant provided an overview. A former president of the South African Association of Sommeliers, Grant has long been revered as one of South Africa’s top wine experts and restaurateurs.

Featuring the largest gathering during the festivities, the ever-awaited picnic, live auction and concert brought together hundreds of attendees enjoying a seemingly endless stream of wines such as those from Three Sticks, Ram’s Gate, Williams Selyem and Verite of Sonoma County (among many others). Representing Napa were ZD, Paradigm, Lombardi Wines and longtime auction supporters Trefethen and Chappellet, represented by Lorenzo Trefethen and Cyril Chappellet, whose mothers Janet Trefethen and Molly Chappellet helped launch the auction 41 years ago.


Wines of Chappellet

“We are delighted to participate in the Valley of the Sun Wine auction to some extent from the start,” says Chappellet, president and CEO of his family’s eponymous winery. “We participate in more than a dozen wine-related fundraisers each year that take us from Napa to Naples, Atlanta, Nashville and Valley of the Sun. We like Valley of the Sun! We spend quite a bit of time in the area, so we really understand and appreciate the community, and as part of the community, we really enjoy being involved in the auction.

“Supporting the arts is incredibly important to our family, as is our story that helped found the auction.”

The live auction and its impressive range of offers, such as “Bordeaux, Châteaux, Fourmeaux” contributed by Napa’s VGS Chateau Potelle winery – an all-inclusive seven-day trip to Bordeaux for two and ‘Party in a Box’ – music and wine filled Valley of the Sun Valentine’s Day for 40, contributed by Sonoma County’s Wines of the senses founders Max Theriot, Myles Lawrence-Briggs and Christopher Strieter, wine auction attendees since 2019.


“We’re proud to support select nonprofits around the world where we can make a tangible difference and in the communities we love to work with,” Strieter said. “The Valley of the Sun Wine auction was among the first wine auctions in which we participated. This is an opportunity for us to support a fantastic cause while sharing our passion with a group of people who share the same love of wine, food and art. Every time we share our wine “in nature”, we increase our brand awareness. But telling the story and sharing with people who specifically appreciate wine allows us to do so in a more meaningful way.

A highly sought after item from the auction was ¡VIVA ARGENTINA!, provided by Revana Family Wines and the auction sponsor Essentialist, the private member service for passionate travellers. The organized tour and tasting trip for four people in the Mendoza region raised over $40,000.

In addition to its Mendoza auction item, first participating sponsor Essentialist provided free annual subscriptions to Grand Cru ticket holders.


“When we first heard about this event, we thought it was a great opportunity as it combined the right community of people with the focus on winemakers, in a beautiful destination and for a great cause” , said Essentialist founder and CEO Joan Roca. “Valley of the Sun is a place many of our members love and we also have strong ties to Napa/Sonoma through our community of editors and insiders, so merging the two has proven to be a perfect fit for our brand. .

“Between the Valley of the Sun community and the winemaker community, there was such a friendly atmosphere at the event with friends old and new in attendance and everyone was thrilled to be there,” added Roca. “Community is such an integral part of what we do at Essentialist, from our own team, editors and insiders to our members and our engagement with local communities in the destinations we host trips to, so this connection was special. for us. ”

“I found the events of the week resonated with the Essentialist slogan of There is a difference between visiting a place and really getting to know it,” said Wells Green. “I like that there is a difference between tasting/drinking wines and really getting to know the winemakers and the museum community for three days. Each event was a unique opportunity to spend time with the winemakers and their wines.

Valley of the Sun

“It’s an amazing community, a beautiful place, and a great cause,” Strieter added. “I love coming here for the wonderful intersection of nature, community and the ability to make an impact.”

Next year Valley of the Sun Wine auction is July 19-22, 2023.

Elisha A. Tilghman