2016 Destin Charity Wine Auction Raises a Record Breaking $2.65 Million for Children in Need in Northwest Florida

Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) celebrated the 11th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction on April 30th, raising more than $2.65 million for children in need in Northwest Florida. The record breaking results are a $350,000 increase over the $2.3 million raised last year.

“Our ability to continually increase the funds raised year over year is a testament to both the strength of our organization and the power of our mission of the charities we support,” said John Russell, president of DCWAF. “All of us associated with the foundation are amazed that we continue to garner this kind of support to help children in need in our community.”

The auction kicked off with the Magnum Force lot (50 autographed magnums from DCWAF vintners past and present), which raised a record winning bid of $55,000. The highest grossing lot was Little Palm Island for four, earning $56,000. Donated by Little Palm Island Resort, John and Margaret Sheehan and supporters of DCWAF, the lot includes private round-trip airfare from Destin Jet, two bungalows for two nights at Little Palm Island, two rooms for two nights at the Westin Key West, a seven-course dinner for four at little Palm Island’s Chef’s Table as well as a Dinner Cruise or Day Charter.

Raising $54,000 was the African Safari and Wine Experience donated by Bridgit and Steve Griessel of Betz Family Winery. This incredible trip includes four nights for two couples at the Molari Safari Lodge. Each couple gets their own 6,000 square-foot penthouse, all meals, guided wild animal guided tours and much more. This lot also includes three nights in the five-star South African boutique hotel, Babylonstoren in Cape Winelands South Africa; and private tastings at world-class wineries. A bourbon blending experience with Angel’s Envy sold twice at $50,000 for a total of $100,000. A luxurious trip to Esperenza, Cabo San Lucas was donated by DCWAF board member Bob Kirk and sold twice at $44,000 for a total of $88,000. Todd Newman invited patrons to the Dakota Shy Estate in Napa Valley with private tours and tastings and this lot sold three times at $27,000 for a total of $81,000.

Russell went on to say, “It is truly amazing what we are able to accomplish with a staff of four people. Our board, the trustees, the patron dinner hosts, sponsors and charity partners all invest substantial time and energy to create this world-class event. It is so fulfilling to watch everyone come together to make a substantial impact on children in need in Northwest Florida.”

The funds raised are distributed to 14 local non-profit organizations for specific projects and programs that benefit children. Charity partners for 2016 include Children in Crisis, Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Emerald Coast Autism Center, the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Food for Thought, Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, The Arc of the Emerald Coast, Opportunity Inc., Pathways for Change, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, Shelter House of Northwest Florida, AMIKids Emerald Coast, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, and Youth Village.

“We are humbled and amazed by the incredible work of our charity partners. We are honored to be a part of what they do and if we are able to help reach just one more child in need in this community, it has all been worth it. The dollars raised will help teach autistic children, give families shelter, provide children meals, medical care, and dental work and so much more. It is very rewarding to see the impact these funds are having on local children,” continued Russell.

The 11th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction was comprised of 55 unique Live Lots, 27 Super Silent offerings, and 120 Silent Lots. The sold out event was attended by 636 wine enthusiasts, making it the most successful Destin Charity Wine Auction to date.

In addition, during the Wine Auction weekend, 14 Patron Dinners were held in notable restaurants and private homes in the area. These dinners pair celebrity chefs with participating vintners to create a memorable dining experience for every attendee. The Foundation is especially thankful to the Patron Hosts who opened the doors to their homes and restaurants and set the stage for the auction weekend. Auctions at each of these dinners recorded revenues of over $530,000, with $200,000 raised at the Bijoux dinner hosted by Jim and Tammy Pierce featuring Emmolo Wines, Amizetta Estate Winery, and Chef Jack McGuckin.

“It is our hosts who create the anticipation for the auction, it is our hosts that take such great care of our vintners and chefs, and it is our hosts who start us off with great auction revenue from their dinners. Each is an amazing contributor to the success of our mission and truly a force for good in our community,” marveled Russell.

As the top charity fundraising event in Northwest Florida, the Destin Charity Wine Auction has been ranked among the nation’s top ten highest-grossing charity wine auctions in the country by Wine Spectator Magazine for four consecutive years. The money raised at this year’s auction will be presented to the charity partners during a check presentation event in the Fall.

The dates for next year’s Destin Charity Wine Auction weekend are April 28 – 30, 2017. For more information on the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, visit

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E! Online Taste Tested 15 Celebrity Wines — Here Are Our Completely Honest Reviews


by Jenna Mullins | E! Online

Happy Wine Day, everyone! It’s the most important holiday of the year! Yep, even more important than Christmas, because this is Winemas. It’s a day to honor that special person who decided that squishing grapes would get us all drunk. That’s how wine works, right?

Anyway, the team at E! Online is dedicated to keeping you guys up to date on all your wine needs, so we did a big taste test of 15 celebrity wines. In doing so we discovered a couple of things. Like, Dave Matthews can make a kickass wine! We also found out that Dave Matthews makes wine. Who knew? Learning things is fun.

So if you want completely honest, no-holding-back opinions on the wines from Nicki MinajDrew Barrymore, Lisa Vanderpump and many more stars trying their hands at the wine business, check out our reviews below. And just know that as wine experts, some of us know our stuff but most of us are basically Leslie Knope:

(Disclaimer: We did not taste test these wines in ideal conditions or in any manner specific to individual varieties. So, this was definitely not a professional, fancy wine tasting. Read these reviews with that in mind).

1. Gia Coppola’s Pinot Noir

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Gia Pinot Noir

“Very light and super drinkable. Its the kind of wine that you just keep sipping until oopsy…you drank the whole bottle.”

“Light, pomegranate.”

“I don’t know why, but I feel super fancy drinking this. I would serve this at a party and feel fancy in doing so.”

“Tasted way too sour to me.”

“Does-the-job kind of wine. Have only an hour to pregame that Tinder date? Gia Pinot Noir it is!”

“God awful. To steal a line from this John Oliver sketch: “taste like the scared urine of a rabbit.'”

“Also an easy-drinking red, but maybe a little too fruity for me.”

“This is how I imagine the old brown water the kids get in The Goonies would taste.”

2. Gia Coppola’s Pinot Grigio

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Gia Pinot Grigio

“It’s a lay-by-the-pool-and-drink-too-much type of wine.”

“This one was light and subtle, very unoffensive. Also crisp. I can see this one being appealing to people who don’t really like wine.”

“I was very into this. Perfect for say, a Memorial Day weekend BBQ. Just give me a straw.”

“Better that the Gia Pinot but still not great. I think this has liquid smoke in it.”

“My fave of the list. I could drink this all day.”

“Fruity, slight crispness.”

“Sharper than I would prefer for a Pinot Grigio.”

3. Nicki Minaj’s Myx Moscato

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Myx
“These tastes like Sprite, I could easily drink five.””If I was still in college, I would be all over this, every weekend. This would be my jam. Like, I’d play beer pong with these.””Nicki Minaj won’t stop rapping about this so I was excited to try it but it’s way too sweet! I did not like it. Tasted like expired champagne mixed with Jolly Ranchers and Capri Sun.””Makes me want to twerk, essentially tastes like flat Sprite.”

“Capri Sun or wine?”

4. Drew Barrymore’s Pinot Grigio

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Barrymore

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Meh. It tastes expensive, though, if that’s something you can actually taste.””Pungent aftertaste and not in a good way.””This one was good, I would buy it.””Quite tasty but I think she’s confused about what a Pinot Grigio should taste like. It’s more like a Chardonnay.”

“This was one of my favorites. So clean and crisp, great flavor. Tasted very expensive. Made me think of summer picnics in a field of sunflowers with Cameron Diaz (Drew Barrymore would do that, right?).”

“Amazing crisp wine, doesn’t taste cheap.”

“The way Pinot Grigio should taste—subtle but crisp. I would actually buy this and make her more rich.”

“This one was actually good. Light and perfect for summer. I’d buy this if Trader Joe’s offered it.”

“I liked it because I like Drew and not liking it made me feel bad because she’s a nice person.”

“A close second fave. Clean and bright—just like Drew?”

“By far the best of the bunch. I’d buy a bottle of this.”

5. Lisa Vanderpump’s LVP Pink Sangria

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Lisa Vanderpump Pink Sangria

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Tastes like cough syrup.””This is too sweet and fruity! This is for children! I think I have fetal alcohol syndrome now.””Pink, floral and in your face, just like Lisa Vanderpump!””Yuck, it’s like super sweet, sugary glitter.”

“Like a liquified version of a bouquet of flowers…but in a good way.”

“Grapefruit cough syrup?”

“Tastes the way Anthropologie smells. Am I ingesting chemicals?”

“Not a fan.”

6. Lisa Vanderpump’s LVP Red Sangria

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Lisa Vanderpump Red Sangria

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Oof, this was rough. Sorry, Lisa. You’re too fabulous to make wine like this. What happened?””NO JUST NO.””LVP Sangria was like a sorority in a bottle. Love the monogram, and the taste was sweet for summer.””Tastes like the way Giggy probably smells (gratingly rosy, that is).”

“This would make a great candle.”

“Not good, not good at all. I’m pretty sure this is just grape juice poured in a fancy princess bottle.”

Apparently Lisa Vanderpump wants us to know that her sangria is not comparable to “everyday wine.” Noted:

7. Dave Matthews’ Dreaming Tree Red

Celebrity Wine Tasting, David Matthews Crush

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Pretty decent full-bodied red.””Delicious! Surprisingly delicious. Who knew?””I didn’t want to like this but I do. I really do. Damn it, Dave Matthews.””Tastes like red wine, which is a good start.”

“A nice red. Would be great to drink relaxing around a campfire.”

“This one was my favorite of all the wines I tasted. I would definitely drink this IRL. In fact, I might actually go out and buy it…like, tonight.”

“I loved this red and I don’t really like red wines. I imagine this going great with lots of meals.”

“Full bodied, relaxed vibe, laying on the grass on Haight Street.”

“Surprisingly (very surprisingly) yummy. Taste like a real wine.”

8. Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl California White

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Skinny Girl California White

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Surprisingly dry and mild…and good!””Didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it either. I’m neutral.””Light and refreshing.””Eh, like what a good Chardonnay would taste like if you took the flavor away. It’s fine.”

“I don’t like Skinny Girl products and this wine confirmed that. This wine tastes like stale water. Actually, I don’t really know what flavor Bethenny was going for when she concocted this mess of a wine.”

“Unremarkable but I could go through the bottle easily—and then punch myself in the face afterwards.”

“No. This tastes like old guacamole.”

9. Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl California Rosé

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Skinny Girl Rose

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“If I could draw the shrug emoticon here, I would. But it’s what I expected from Skinny Girl.””Ewwwww.””OOF. It tastes like church wine.””Nail polish remover-esque.”

“I’m pretty sure every person I saw try this dumped their cup out immediately afterwards. The response was spot-on because this Rose has notes of kitchen cleaner and Clorox.”

“I imagine Sally Hansen wine would taste like this”

10. Brandi Glanville’s Unfiltered Blonde Chardonnay

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Unfiltered Blonde

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Too harsh for a Chardonnay, strange aftertaste.””The second this hit my taste buds my brain wanted it out of my mouth, so that should tell you enough.””I really loved this one, it was very oaky and tasted expensive. It’s very Chardonnay-y so I can see people who don’t like strong Chards disliking this one (also Team Brandi forever, sorry Kyle!).””Acidic, slightly venomous and leaves a bad aftertaste. So exquisitely Brandi.”

“Very oaky. Not for me, but I’m not a chardonnay fan. I could see Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Barney loving this, though.”

“All I wrote down was ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO.'”

11. Train’s Drops of Jupiter California Red

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Train, Drops of Jupiter

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Points off because they are a crappy band…but they make a decent wine.””I might have been too shocked to learn that Train made wine to really taste it because I actually liked this one.””It had a bite to it, strong tannins.””Tastes like the best soy latte that you’ve ever had.”

“Subtle, good—I would pour another glass.”

“This one has a bit of a kick to it but in a good way. I’d call it tangy.”

“A very smooth, mild easy-drinking red.”

“Good, a little too harsh though.”

12. Train’s Calling all Angels Chardonnay

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Train, Calling all Angels

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Buttery, but a little bland for a Chardonnay.””I wouldn’t kick it out of the wine cellar.””It just tasted overpoweringly sweet but smooth, like that non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider you drink when you’re a kid.””Bland and stomach turning all at once.”

“OK. Inoffensive but so boring. Tastes like church wine.”


13. Christina Milian’s Viva Diva Moscato (Mango, Strawberry and Pineapple Coconut)

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Viva Diva Mango

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“I can feel myself getting cavities from the sugar.””Great mango taste, very light and sweet makes me want to turn up!””White-bichon-frise-wearing-a-pink-rhinestone-collar-on-rodeo-drive kind of wine.””I’m obsessed with incredibly sweet mine so I’ll take nine of each, thanks!”

“Effervescent and not too sweet—thought it was raspberry so the fruit flavoring is very close to being on point.”

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too sweet.”

“Delish. 100 calories a glass and 6% alcohol, perfect for breakfast on a summers day.”

“The mango one tastes like grapefruit juice.”

“I’m ashamed to admit that I actually like this. I may be a little drunk.”

“Takes me back to the days of stealing your parents wine coolers pretending that they don’t taste awful with friends in high school.”

“Viva Diva in all flavors was amazing, especially Strawberry. For a sparkling Moscato it wasn’t too sweet, and went down nice and smooth.

14. Patti Stanger’s PS: Match Chardonnay

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Match White

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Hoity-toity moms in Orange County.””Could have gone my whole life without drinking one single sip of that.””Fine, but pretty forgettable.””This is so watery. Pass.”

“I would drink it if it was at an open bar, but I’d probably never order it.”

15. Patti Stanger’s PS: Match Sweet Red Rosso

Celebrity Wine Tasting, Match Red

Lindsay Scheinberg for E! Online

“Also terrible. Patti’s vineyard needs to be torched.””Better than her white, but that’s not saying much because to me, lukewarm well water is better than her white. Seriously, I hated that Chardonnay.””From the bottle it looks like its going to be super super dark but it’s actually sweet and light!””Sparkly green apples, light.”

“We were all side eye-ing the name but actually this seems like something you order on a date, or even bring for a girls night in. It’s sweet with a little bit of fizz, almost like a cocktail.”

“Not bad for an ambiguous, generic red wine.”

“Bottle is a bit misleading, over all one of my favorites. Super delicious sparkling red.”

Cape Vineyards in Vogue


21 January 2016

Joan Muller Financial Mail

OWNING a vineyard in the premier Cape Winelands regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl has seemingly lost none of its cachet, with a number of R50m-plus sales concluded last year.

Hidden Farm, perched high on the slopes of the Helderberg mountains between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, was bought by former Capitec Bank chief executive Riaan Stassen as a going concern for a rumoured R54.5m.

The 30ha farm is home to the Hidden Valley winery, an oil and table olive business as well as acclaimed restaurant Overture.

Other wine farms that have recently changed hands in the Stellenbosch area include the 140ha Uva Mira that was sold for R65m, the 100ha Cordoba that fetched R58m and the 202ha Klaver Valley at a price tag of R96.5m, which translates into a rate per hectare price of R430 000-R580 000.

Big-ticket wine farms that have been sold to prominent offshore investors in the Cape Winelands over the past two to three years include Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek to Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson and neighbouring Dieu Donné, Klein Dassenberg and Von Ortloff, now amalgamated into Leeu Estates, to Indian billionaire Analjit Singh.

Chinese tech entrepreneur William Wu bought a 51% stake in the sprawling Swartland Winery near Malmesbury.

However, despite the weak rand, recent sales have gone mostly to SA investors, says André Malan, Seeff agri-agent in the Stellenbosch area.

Buyers are typically successful local business entrepreneurs and retirees.

While vineyards are still widely regarded as the ultimate trophy asset, demand has also been driven by improved investment prospects on the back of an increase in international demand for SA wines.

SA exported 418m litres of wine in the 12 months ending November 2015, according to latest figures from industry research body SA Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS).

That’s down from the record 520m litres sold in 2013 when a global shortage resulting from poor European crops drove SA demand sky high. However, it’s still 50% up on the 280m litres/year that SA was exporting 10 years ago.

While top-end wine farms are achieving record prices north of R1,5m/ha, industry players say average prices have remained fairly flat over the past five years — roughly between R400 000/ha and R1m/ha.

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