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Make-A-Wish® Raises a Record $868,000 in Local Fundraiser, May 2008

The 2008 Croquet Invitational and Charity Auction, a benefit for the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation®, welcomed a near capacity crowd to experience wine country’s best food, wine and croquet at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in Windsor.  Thanks to the generosity of event supporters the Foundation raised $868,736, a 1% increase over last year (including approximately $600,000 in cash contributions; and an estimated $268,000 in in-kind donations) to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions in the Bay Area.

The festivities began Friday evening with an elegant dinner to acknowledge the event’s corporate sponsors, including Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, CNA, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP.  While welcoming attendees Tim Nall, Vice President & General Manager of Wine Operations at Brown-Forman, parent company of Sonoma-Cutrer said, “Make-A-Wish should not be thanking us.  We want to thank Make-A-Wish for giving us the privilege of being associated with such an outstanding charity.”  Kicking off the fundraiser was a donation of $19,000 from the band Journey and De La Montanya Winery & Vineyards from a limited edition wine “Arrival,” their 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.5% Cabernet Franc and 7.5% Merlot) which was crafted under the direction of last year’s Bordeaux Blending auction lot winner.

Under the expert leadership of Auctioneer Fritz Hatton the auction portion of the event once again brought together a wide array of premiere businesses and individuals who donated extraordinary prizes.  Always the most moving auction lot is the Adopt-A-Wish® lotwhen guests hold up their paddle to donate $1,000 to help make a child’s wish come true.  Highlights of the auction included:

The Adopt-A-Wish lot whichraised $59,000, up 11% from last year;
a silent auction of 90+ offerings which generated over $46,000, up 47% over last year;
a live catalog of 35+ lots which generated $262,000, up 2% over last year – highlights of the live auction:
a week in a Castle in Scotland which generated $15,000;
a South African Safari that brought in $11,000;
a week in a private luxury home in Telluride which raised $9,000;
a Private Pinot Release Party hosted by Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards which raised $8,000;
a Bordeaux Blending Party with a private concert by Jonathan Cain of the band Journey that brought in $6,500;
a Party at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards which generated $9,000;
the privilege of sitting at the Head Table at the 2009 Croquet Invitational went for the 2nd time to donors from Nevada for a record high $6,400;a private Dinner Party with Celebrated Chef John Ash generated $5,000;
a Pinot Party at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards generated $8,000; one of the most spirited auction lots was the Wine Dogs Wine Collection, an assortment of more than 40 wines featured in the book, Wine Dogs USA.  To get the bidding started Josie, a Border Collie who was featured in the book representing Sonoma-Cutrer, wowed the audience as she mastered an agility course on the lawn, generating $4,500.

“We are stunned and delighted,” said Patricia Wilson, Executive Director of the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation.  “Considering the state of the economy, the results confirm just how passionate our donors are about our mission.  It is so gratifying to know that they care so deeply about the children we serve.  My heartfelt thanks to our committee, sponsors, tremendous volunteers and, of course, hundreds of donors for helping to make this event such a success!”

Other highlights of the event:
This year’s Wish Ambassador was Elizabeth Creger, a young lady who gave her wish to help others.  Despite her own devastating battle with cancer, Liz felt that there were children even less fortunate than she.  Speaking to a hushed audience, she talked about her wish experience, when she volunteered at a medical facility and a school in South Africa.  “You could hear a pin drop when Liz spoke,” noted Wilson.  “Even staff working on the Terrace stopped what they were doing to listen.  It is no surprise that her compelling wish and generosity motivated many in the audience.”

The croquet exhibition match also known as the “Dueling Vintners”, was held for the third time this year.  Two-time winner Napa vintner Andrew Delos of Nickel & Nickel tried to defend his trophy against newcomer Sonoma vintner Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne winery, continuing the long-standing rivalry between Napa and Sonoma.  Kosta won the match, keeping the trophy in Sonoma this year.The Friday Night Sponsor Dinner featured a few live lots from the Dueling Vintners, including a coveted spot on the Kosta Browne mailing list, and VIP getaways and Cheetah encounter provided by charity partner Safari West.  The evening included a live performance by Gideon Bendile who is the distinctive voice on The Lion King soundtrack.

Next year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2009.

About the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation®:
The Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.  In 2008 the Foundation celebrates 24 years of fulfilling magical wishes. One of the largest chapters nationwide, it has granted over 4,500 wishes in its 17 Northern California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Siskiyou, Solano and Sonoma.  The goal of the Foundation is to grant a wish to every eligible child in its 17-county territory.  Anyone can refer a child for a wish.  In 2005, the Chapter was recognized with a coveted “Best in America Seal of Excellence” award, the first Make-A-Wish Chapter to achieve this distinction for its outstanding management and governance practices.  Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded this Seal.   For more information or to refer a child for a wish, please call (800) 464-9474 or visit