Golden Vines: wine’s star-studded charity auction aiming to raise £1million

The biggest names in wine are coming together to create a charity wine auction like no other – with celebrities, VIPs and deluxe lots galore

Words by Adam Lechmere

Penfolds Grange rare vintages being decanted
Penfolds is among the prestigious wineries donating rare bottlings to the Golden Vines cause

Guests at an extraordinary charity wine auction which opens later this month are to be ferried to and fro in a fleet of Rolls-Royce Phantoms and serenaded by the world’s most famous gospel choir.

The Golden Vines Fine Wine, Rare Spirit & Experience Global Online Auction (to give it its full name) has been put together to fund the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation. This charity supports wine education programmes around the world which aim to increase diversity in wine. It funds students through all levels of wine exams from WSET to Master of Wine and Master Sommelier.

The auction, which starts online on 23 September and finishes at a dinner at the ritzy London club Annabel’s on 7 October, is aimed squarely at the world’s most affluent wine and spirit collectors.

Gerard Basset and Lewis Chester - wine diversity
Lewis Chester (right) and the late Gerard Basset MW, founders of wine research company Liquid Icons, which is behind the Golden Vines charitable auction

Lots from wine estates that include some of the greatest names in wine and spirits will be up for grabs for dizzying prices. The auction will be conducted by Christie’s – there will also be lots donated from sponsors such as Gucci, Virgin Galactic, The Macallan, VistaJet, Suntory and Dom Pérignon.

The evening at Annabel’s, says Lewis Chester, founder of the charity’s parent company Liquid Icons, promises the sort of glamour you’d expect in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, normally the hangout of Premier League footballers and pop stars. Arriving in their chauffeur-driven Rolls, VIP guests will drink the finest wines in the world while listening to the Kingdom Choir, which made its name by performing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. There will also be a surprise appearance by a bona-fide global superstar.

Chateau Cheval Blanc
One of the star lots of the Golden Vines auction will be a stay at Château Cheval Blanc
Photo: C Burban

Wines to be served include such rarities as Dom Pérignon P2 2003, Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Alte Reben Kabinett 2015, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux 2005 and Château d’Yquem 1988.

The lots up for grabs are equally starry. From 23 September you will be able to bid to take over Château Cheval Blanc for the night, or for an evening for you and your guests at Le Clarence in Paris with a menu designed by Château Haut Brion owner Prince Robert of Luxembourg, or a visit and dinner at Liber Pater (the world’s most expensive wine), hosted by owner Loïc Pasquet.

Similar lots have been donated by estates from Burgundy (Georges Comte de Vogüé, Dujac, Liger-Belair, Domaine des Lambrays), Tuscany (Tenuta San Guido, Biondi-Santi), Piedmont (Gaja), Rioja (La Rioja Alta, Marqués de Riscal), Portugal (Barca Velha, Symington), Champagne (Salon, Taittinger, Roederer), Germany (Egon Müller, Schloss Johannisberg), Napa (Colgin, Ridge, Harlan), England (Gusbourne), Chile (Lapostolle), Argentina (Catena Zapata), Australia (Penfolds) and all points in between.

Liber Pater wine bottle being photographed
People can also bid on dinner with Loïc Pasquet, maker of the world's most expensive wine, Liber Pater

There are also spirits experiences – an evening at the newly-restored Highland distillery Brora, or a visit to the magnificent new Macallan distillery, for example.

Price estimates vary. A signed double magnum of Gaja’s Sorì Tildìn 2001 plus tasting and dinner hosted by one of the Gaja family is expected to fetch £5,000-£15,000; a similar experience at Harlan Estate might go for double that.

At the other end of the scale, an experience at Liber Pater including a Melchior (18 litres) of the 2011 and dinner with Pasquet has an expected hammer price of up to £250,000.

Around £1m is expected to be raised, though privately organisers say they expect the final sum to be nearer £2m.

We can literally change the face of wine

According to Chester, the aim of the Golden Vines charity is no less than to ‘profoundly’ change the world of wine ‘by encouraging people from a diversity background’ into the industry.

‘Through our [various] scholarships, and through funding a multitude of institutional and community groups globally to provide education, work experience and mentorship for these communities on a multi-year basis, we can literally change the face of wine.’

Winners of two awards – the Taylor’s Port-sponsored Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships, worth £55,000 each – will be announced at the dinner.

The Golden Vines Fine Wine, Rare Spirit & Experience Auction will be available as an online global auction using an eBrochure with embedded WPA technology to allow for bidding globally, opens on Thursday 23 September and closes on the night of the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony & Dinner on Thursday 7 October.

Proceeds from the auction will go to The Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation to fund diversity and inclusion wine education programmes globally, including The Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships, Golden Vines Master of Wine & Master Sommelier Scholarships, and the Golden Vines Wine Scholar Guild Scholarships.

Institutional and community groups from around the world have been asked to submit funding requests to be considered for grants from the Foundation to be awarded in 2022. You can view the catalogue here.

The Golden Vines Fine Wine, Rare Spirit and Experience Global Online Auction starts online on 23 September and finishes on 7 October with a dinner at Annabel’s, London. Find out more here