The money was raised at the Foundation’s biennial event, The American Riviera Wine Auction, held at the Coral Casino on February 11. “Hitting the half-million dollar mark represents a huge leap for all of us,” noted Frank Ostini, President of the Vintners’ Foundation, adding, “A huge leap that the $500,000 raised here will be leveraged by Direct Relief into $15 Million in medicine and aid to the needy across the United States and around the world, which makes the Vintners so proud to be in partnership with Direct Relief for the American Riviera Wine Auction.”
This year’s event featured guest chef, Bradley Ogden, who together with the staff of the Biltmore Hotel prepared an exquisite four course dinner which set the tone for the lavish live auction filled with one-of-a-kind experiences including exclusive winery dinners, trips to exotic destinations and behind-the-scenes concert and television experiences.
As the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association’s charitable “arm”, the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation has collaborated with Direct Relief on seven American Riviera Wine Auctions since 2000. The year of that first auction, Direct Relief, who had been supplying medical supplies to clinics and hospitals around the world for 50 years, faced a financial shortfall of $100,000 that threatened its future. When the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation presented Direct Relief with $250,000 from the proceeds of the first auction, it not only relieved Direct Relief’s immediate financial crisis but launched them toward their present platform which allows them to deliver $300 million yearly. Since the first auction, the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation has gifted $1.6 million towards the work of Direct Relief. This year’s check, which represents a 50% increase from any past auction, brings the total contribution to just over $2 million.
While Direct Relief’s initial relief efforts targeted medically underserved areas internationally, in response to the need arising in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, DRI was able to translate their successful overseas model to a domestic situation. A realization that the need for affordable medicine at home transcended Hurricane Katrina, Direct Relief has since launched Direct Relief USA and now supplies $50 million yearly on the home front, including millions of dollars for dental and ophthalmic care as well as the distribution of relief packs for emergency responders in Santa Barbara County.
For more information on the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation and the American Riviera Wine Auction go to www.sbcountywines.com/events/auction.html.