A Tuscan Winery Vacation with Sting? Southern Glazer's and Wine Spectator Raise $1.6 Million for Pandemic-Impacted Restaurant Workers in Blockbuster Auction

With the help of Zachy's, Guy Fieri, Dave Portnoy and a star-studded lineup of vintners, the Conscious Collection Auction brought aid to an industry in need

A Tuscan Winery Vacation with Sting? Southern Glazer's and Wine Spectator Raise $1.6 Million for Pandemic-Impacted Restaurant Workers in Blockbuster Auction
A wine tasting and dinner with Sting and Trudie Styler at their Tuscan estate Il Palagio drew feverish bidding. (Sandro Michahelles)
Apr 9, 2021

Updated April 11

With a star-studded live auction featuring chef Guy Fieri, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy and others, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits and Wine Spectator’s Conscious Collection Auction raised more than $1.6 million for restaurant and bar workers who have been impacted by the pandemic. After days of online bidding, Zachy's gaveled open a livestream auction Friday night, allowing wine lovers to bid on more than 100 exceptional lots of wines, spirits and unique experiences. The auction raised a combined $1,477,600. That was added to a $100,000 donation from Wine Spectator and $25,000 from Aviation Gin.

The top lots? One bidder won the chance to spend three nights at Il Palagio, Sting and Trudie Styler's Tuscan winery, including a dinner with the music legend, his wife and their winemaking consultant Riccardo Cotarella. And they can bring 11 friends. The winning bid was $140,000.

The second highest lot was a rosé themed dinner for 10 in East Hampton with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse. It sold for $85,000. An afternoon with Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, including a chance to do a pizza review, sold for $70,000. A dinner with Matt Damon in New York fetched $55,000. An incredible tour of Bolgheri wineries, including Masseto, sold for $50,000, while lunch at Bordeaux's Château Pètrus brought $42,000.

The lots were donated to support an excellent cause: All auction proceeds went to Portnoy's Barstool Fund for hospitality workers, administered by the nonprofit 30-Day Fund, which has been raising money nationwide. The restaurant industry and its workers continue to be one of the most impacted by COVID-19, as the pandemic keeps many dining establishments either closed or at limited capacity. Millions of restaurant workers have been laid off.

An auction for an industry in crisis

The idea for the event began developing in January, when Wayne Chaplin of Southern Glazer's proposed a charity auction for the hospitality industry to Lee Schrager, the wholesaler's senior vice president for communications and corporate responsibility. Chaplin reached out to Marvin R. Shanken, Wine Spectator editor and publisher, who suggested Wine Spectator and Southern Glazer's partner with Zachy's Auctions. Shanken also kickstarted the fund with a $100,000 donation from the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation.

Zachy's president Jeff Zacharia was eager to be involved. "Over the past 13 months, we've been able to use our platform and position in the industry to help raise money for those affected by COVID-19," said Zacharia. "The restaurants supported by the Barstool Fund are the lifeblood of not only our city, but the cities of our clients all over the world, and when I learned we could be a part of this I leapt at the chance. Donors were eager to help, too, as you can tell by the caliber of amazing lots in the auction.”

Chaplin hopes it will help as the economy begins to recover. “As a leader in the hospitality industry, we have a responsibility to give back to members who have always been there for us."

Portnoy and Fieri were ideal hosts, as each has raised tens of millions of dollars for COVID-19 relief. Portnoy's Barstool Fund proved a perfect recipient for the auction's proceeds. Shanken, Chaplin and Southern's Mel Dick led efforts to secure a great majority of the wine lots featured in the auction. Fieri and Portnoy were joined by Zacharia and Vinous Media's Antonio Galloni.

“The generosity we've seen from wineries, distillers and celebrities who've contributed incredible products and experiences for this auction is like nothing I've seen in my career," said Dick. "Every person and partner we called to ask for help said yes, without hesitation.”

"It's a long road to recovery," said Chaplin. "The Conscious Collection Auction is one more way we wanted to continue to raise awareness of the challenges restaurants and bars continue to face and to help get critical financial support to small businesses who are still struggling to survive. It has been an honor to be involved.”

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