Atlanta Wine Auction raises $1.65 million for High Museum

Good Works: Anna Ferguson Are you aware of an event or project that benefits our community? Contact Anna Ferguson at 770-963-9205 ext. 1308 or anna.ferguson@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Patrons of wine and the arts roamed through the Grand Tasting Tents last weekend, nibbling decadent hors d'oevres from Atlanta's premier restauranteurs.

Balancing small plates with a large glass, guests navigated their way through the intimate space, trying to sample all the foods and wines.

Suddenly, a booming, Mardi Gras-style marching band of clowns and jesters paraded through the white tent. Dressed in their Sunday best, ticket-holders followed the band into another, more open tent to start the bidding.

It was Brian Ranck's first time at the Atlanta Wine Auction, and just an hour in, he already had his eye on a prize.

"I'm looking at a few different things," he said, leafing through the lot catalog. "Mostly wine, though. Lots and lots of wine."

Held under tents set up at Atlantic Station on March 24, the Atlanta Wine Auction got off to a fast start.

"Going once, going twice, fair warning," auctioneer Michael Davis called out to the crowd. "Sold!"

The first lot, a bottle of Cristal champagne and a pair of 18-carat white gold earrings, went for $7,500. A dinner for 10 guests prepared in-home by the chef at Nikolai's Roof started on the auction block at $5,000. After a few rounds of back-and-forth paddle raising, it ended at $17,000. Cases of especially grand vintages, priceless artwork and vacations went for even higher amounts.

"How can you put a price on these things?" Davis asked. "Well, we'll try."

These towering prices weren't a mistake - it was all for a good cause. As the key fundraising event for the High Museum of Art, the auction is now in its 15th year. Themed "Wine is King: A Highly Royal Benefit" in honor of the Louvre exhibit at the museum, the event played out over a five-day span. Starting on March 21 with the Royal Artists Dinner and culminating with The Big Finish on March 24, it included several galas, swanky get-togethers and, of course, the main event of the auction.

By the end of the auction, a record-breaking $1.65 million had been raised. The previous record was last year, with $1.3 million, said High Museum spokeswoman Caroline Forquer. As the auction's motto said, "Long live the High, long live the king!"

Housing group

raises funds for Relay for Life

Richardson Housing Group, a Gwinnett County developer, recently held a silent auction featuring furnishings from one of its model homes to raise money for the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. The company auctioned off pictures, bedding, furniture, lamps and other items from its closed-out model in McClaren Parke, a townhome community in Lawrenceville, and raised more than $4,000.

Panera presents wish to boy, family

Panera Bread Company's Lawrenceville location, at 911 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, teamed with the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Monday to present a Hawaii vacation package to a 12-year-old boy and his family.

Six Panera stores throughout metro Atlanta have been taking donations in Operation Dough-Nation buckets. The change Panera guests dropped in the buckets was matched by Panera, with the total funds donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia and Alabama. The fundraising goal was $12,000, to grant two children's wishes. Visit www.ga-al.wish.org.

Women's center

to host luncheon, silent auction

The Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence will host the Champions for Change luncheon and silent auction at 11 a.m. April 10 at TWELVE Atlantic Station, 361 17th St., Atlanta. Tickets are $100 for individuals, and $1,000 for a table of 10. Call 404-370-7670 or visit www.wrcdv.org.

Sugarloaf Kids

collecting cereal

The Sugarloaf Kids of Sugarloaf United Methodist Church have partnered with the North Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry to hold a cereal drive throughout the month of April. The drive will help feed children who normally qualify for federal school-lunch programs and go without food in the summer months. Donations can be dropped off at the church, 1795 Old Peachtree Road, Duluth. Visit www.sugarloaf.org.

Flea market, bake sale to benefit children's home

The United Methodist Children's Home Auxiliary will hold a fundraiser flea market and bake sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 and 14 at the United Methodist Children's Home, 500 South Columbia Drive, Decatur. The children's home can house up to 70 young people and offers a variety of community-based services to more than 6,000 children and their families each year. Call 404-327-5840.