New Charity Auction Gala Created to Benefit the Roots Fund

Wine

As part of ongoing efforts to improve diversity in the wine industry, the Roots Fund, Wine Spectator and Zachys have partnered to create a new wine auction to raise money for the nonprofit organization’s initiatives to help members of Black, indigenous, Latinx and other underrepresented communities enter the wine industry.

The auction, taking place April 27 at the Chelsea Piers Lighthouse in New York City, will feature rare wines and experiences contributed by some of the world’s best-known wineries. Among the Burgundy domaines featured are Dujac, Drouhin, Duroché, de Montille, Thibault Liger-Belair and Comtes Lafon. Napa Valley names include Heitz, Inglenook, Silver Oak and Robert Mondavi.

Tours and tastings will be offered in a range of wine regions, such as France, California and South America, and will include cellar tastings, dinners with renowned chefs and a chance to meet leading winemakers and vintners. For example, a “Rooted in France” experience will span top domaines in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune; a Hampton Water rosé package includes a guitar autographed by famed rocker and vintner Jon Bon Jovi.

The Roots Fund was established in 2020 to provide educational support, mentorship and job placement to help members of minority groups get a foothold in the wine industry and thrive in careers there. The founders include chef-restaurateur and now Roots Fund executive director Ikimi Dubose-Woodson, sommelier and Hue Society founder Tahiirah Habibi and Master Sommelier and Lawrence Wine Estates managing partner Carlton McCoy Jr.

That fall, the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation—which for 40 years has helped support a variety of wine and culinary programs through funds raised by the publication’s events—donated $100,000 to the Roots Fund to provide scholarships within the group’s “Rooted in Education” and “Stay Rooted in Education” programs; the former focuses on wine certification courses, while the latter provides college tuition support for winemakers and others in the wine business.

The auction, intended to become an annual event, will be held in conjunction with a gala dinner at The Lighthouse, overlooking the Hudson River. The evening will include a VIP tasting of Heitz Cellar wines hosted by estate director Erik Elliot and McCoy, as well as a musical performance by Grammy-nominated R&B singer and songwriter Kenyon Dixon. Jermaine Stone, owner of Cru Luv Wine and host of the Wine & Hip Hop podcast, will emcee the proceedings.

In the spirit of La Paulée de Meursault, a Burgundian harvest party for the local community, guests are encouraged to bring favorite bottles from their cellars to share with other diners. Accompanying the wines will be a menu from a team of chefs: Matthew Tiscornia, executive chef at Pier Sixty and The Lighthouse in New York; Joseph Paire, executive chef of Limewood Bar & Restaurant at Fairmont Hotels’ Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley, Calif., and former Rebelle chef Daniel Eddy, now chef-owner of Winner in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Although there will be limited capacity for the live auction in New York, bids will also be welcomed on the telephone, online live during the event or by submitting an absentee bid with Zachys in advance of the sale, via email or their website. Tickets will go on sale for presale on March 9 and open to all on March 14 at therootsfund.org/charityauction.

To contribute a rare wine lot or experience to be auctioned to benefit the Roots Fund, contact charity@therootsfund.org by March 15.

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