Destin Charity Wine Auction Raises $3.8 Million for Children in Need


The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation held its first fully live auction since 2019 on April 23 and the event’s triumphant return drew over 600 attendees and raised $3.8 million for 16 children’s charities in northwest Florida. The live auction raised $1.8 million more than last year’s hybrid event, which combined some in-person events with online auctions. “The results of this year’s auction far exceeded anything we could have ever dreamed,” said DCWAF president John Russell.

As in past years, top lots included “Magnum Force,” a collection of 50 magnums from wineries such as Dunn Vineyards, Kosta Browne, Joseph Phelps and Château de Beaucastel, which raised a record-winning bid of $70,000. Experience-focused lots included a Napa trip with a wine dinner hosted by Forman Vineyards that sold for $54,000, an immersive trip to Tuscany that sold four times for a total of $160,000 and a customizable trip to Bordeaux that sold four times for a total of $140,000. “We continue to find success with a mixture of trips and wine lots, and most lots include some wine component,” Russell told Wine Spectator.

This year, DCWAF also offered a 9-liter bottle of the Ellison Ingram Russian River Cuvée made by Thompson 31Fifty Wines. The cuvée was made in honor of the son of longtime DCWAF supporters Doug and Merrisa Ingram, Ellison, who tragically passed away last year at the age of 9. The lot sold for $65,000 and then again for $75,000. Proceeds from the lot will benefit the Ellison Ingram Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to children who have previously been helped by one of DCWAF’s partner charities.

“Thompson 31Fifty Wines created Ellison’s Cuvée from a blend of our Estate Pommard and Calera Pinot Noir vineyards,” co-owner Mike Thompson told Wine Spectator. “It’s a blend of Ellison’s love, the Ingrams’ love and the community’s love.” In Thompson’s Estate Pommard vineyard, row No. 9 will be dedicated to Ellison and marked with a sign for the Ellison McCraney Ingram Foundation.

Mike Thompson]

Vintner Mike Thompson introduces his special 9-liter lot. (Kiara Watson)

The auction’s charity partners focus on a range of issues facing northwest Florida children in need, including homelessness, food security, mental health and more.

“The funds we receive from the auction fuel our programs that serve over 3,000 food insecure children every week, year-round,” said Tiffanie Nelson, founder and CEO of Food for Thought Outreach. Teresa Jones, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, said the funds from DCWAF, “help us make a permanent and lasting impact [on] the children that grow up in the homes we build and break the cycle of poverty. We wouldn’t be the organization we are today without DCWAF.”

After COVID-19 complicated operations for both the auction and its charity partners for the past two years, this year’s strong return is especially joyous. “What cannot be overstated is the impact these funds will have on our supported charities,” said Russell. “They have battled through the pandemic to continue to deliver their services, often at great risk to themselves, so that the children of our community would know they were not forgotten.”

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