V Foundation Wine Celebration

Photo Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Bob McClenahanPhoto Courtesy of Bob McClenahanPhoto Courtesy of Bob McClenahanPhoto Courtesy of Bob McClenahanPhoto Courtesy of Bob McClenahanPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & ClarityPhoto Courtesy of Lowell Downey - Art & Clarity

Over $8.8 Million Raised For Cancer Research At The 19th Annual V Foundation Wine Celebration 

The V Foundation for Cancer Research’s annual fundraiser, the V Foundation Wine Celebration, garnered more than $8.8 million for cancer research over the weekend of August 3-6 , including over $7 million in Fund-A-Need donations to support emerging, high-impact research of cancers that derive from BRCA or BRCA-like mutations. 

The theme for this year’s gala event, “Heart, Mind, Soul,” was taken from late North Carolina basketball coach and ESPN commentator Jim Valvano’s 1993 speech at the inaugural ESPY awards: “Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

The most stirring component of the Gala auction was Fund-A-Need, with guests raising their paddles to pledge donations to support BRCA research. This year, the V Foundation joined forces with the BRCA Foundation, founded by Evan and Cindy Goldberg, and the Gray Foundation, founded by Mindy and Jon Gray for a bold, new BRCA Challenge with the Gray Foundation and the BRCA Foundation providing $1.5 million each for a total of $3 million. “It is a dream come true for me to see a collaboration between these three organizations,” said Goldberg. “With a stellar grant committee made up of scientists associated with each organization and a donation match that can catalyze giving to the cause, this whole effort is destined to be far greater than the sum of its parts.”


Kicking off the Fund-A-Need were Nan and Wayne Kocourek of Illinois, who raised their paddle for $1 million. “We are hoping our gift to the Jimmy V Foundation inspires others to give what they can to provide hope for curing all cancer,” said Nan and Wayne. “Everyone is effected in some way by this  devastating disease—whether their personal experience with cancer or having a friend or family member fight for his or her life. We are no different. We have had family members and many friends struggle, and have lost wonderful people from our lives. But thanks to research, more lives are being saved.  We want to see every life saved.”

Other major amounts for Fund-A-Need donations included an additional $250,000 from Jim Ryan of Constellation Brands, and $150,000 from the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Hall of Fame Luncheon

The weekend’s activities  kicked off Thursday, August 3, with a Hall of Fame luncheon at Far Niente Winery hosted by Beth Nickel, Dirk Hampson and Larry Maguire, followed by several intimate winery dinners, including Alpha Omega Winery, hosted by proprietors Robin and Michelle Baggett; Davis Estates, hosted by proprietors Mike and Sandy Davis; Odette Estate, hosted by partner and general manager John Conover; and Sinegal Estate, hosted by proprietor David Sinegal. Additionally on Thursday, proprietors Dennis O’Neil and Steph Martin hosted members of the V Foundation Giving Club at the Humanitarian and Founders Dinner at their Checkerboard Vineyards.

Presidents  Club & Vintner Grant Honoree Luncheon

On Friday, members of the Giving Club attended the Presidents Club & Vintner Grant Honoree Luncheon sponsored by Bentley Motors and hosted at Chappellet Vineyard by proprietors Blakesley and Cyril Chappellet on Pritchard Hill with breathtaking views of Lake Hennessey. The 2017 Vintner Grant honorees, Kary and David Duncan, family owners of Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars, were recognized for their continued support of the V Foundation with a $600,000 grant, announced on Saturday by Coach K, awarded in their name supporting BRCA research.  In her remarks at the luncheon, Dr. Kary Duncan acknowledged and thanked the doctors who “saved my life,” and expressed her resolve to use her experience to help others. David Duncan added: “it’s a wonderful moment to be Kary Duncan’s husband. This has been quite an honor and a journey, and we are deeply grateful to the V Foundation for their compassionate support and relentless commitment to research.”

Rock The V

Friday evening’s popular “Rock The V” party at The Pavilion at The Vintage Estates in Yountville featured offerings from Napa Valley’s renowned restaurateurs and preeminent vintners, as well as a custom barrel auction where guests had the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind cases of wine from Pride Mountain Vineyards, Kosta Browne, Seven Stones Winery and O’Brien Estate. The theme was Andy Warhol, with the research doctors’ images emblazoned on posters throughout the venue. The entire V Foundation group gathered onstage with Coach K and musician Michael Franti to announce Constellation Brands’ donation of $1.25 million presented by Senior Vice President Jim Ryan for this year’s “Closer to a Cure” campaign, after which, the food, wine and dancing continued to flow to the best of the 80’s from tribute band Tainted Love.

Answer for Cancer

Saturday morning, the Foundation presented “Answer for Cancer,” a free, public cancer research symposium, where prominent physicians and research scientists from around the nation gathered to present the most current advances and discoveries in clinical applications, new diagnostics and alternative treatments for cancer. The two-hour session was led by Robert C. Bast Jr., M.D., Vice President for Translational Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and ended with a Q&A session where attendees in the standing room-only crowd of several hundred had the opportunity to pose questions to guest speakers, who included Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Olopade, M.D., FACP, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, Associate Dean for Global Health and Founding Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at The University of Chicago; V Scholar recipient Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis Genome Center; and Lucy Godley, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Medicine – Section of Hematology/Oncology, Cancer Research Center, Committee on Cancer Biology, The University of Chicago.

Super Silent Auction & Marketplace

Following the symposium, the Super Silent Auction & Marketplace was held at Groezinger Estate, where guests enjoyed wine and cuisine from some of the area’s top wineries and chefs while bidding on rare and wonderful silent auction lots.

Additionally on Saturday, the Duncan Family of Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars partnered with the V Foundation for their Release Day party—unprecedented in the 38-year history of their release events—that raised funds in recognition of vintner honoree Dr. Kary Duncan.  In attendance were Coach K, George Bodenheimer and the Duke group spurring guests to become ‘part of the team’ to fight cancer. Coach K joked that even though he’s Polish, he loves wine and had hoped that they would feature a polka band. [more here to be included] The audience were invited to purchase raffle tickets for the 6 L bottle of 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, donated by Silver Oak and signed by Coach K. An impromptu serenade by Michael Franti, who arrived on the scene, further energized the crowd, bringing in a cool $10,500 for the cause.

Pearls of Hope

During Friday’s and Saturday’s events, the popular “Pearls of Hope” raffle at $500 a pop brought in over $80,000. It was easy to spot the ticket holders who sported long strands of stunning freshwater pearls to show off their support of the V Foundation. The big prize, a Cascading “V” Necklace of round brilliant cut 18.22 carat diamonds (valued at $58,000), was claimed by Wendy Lawrence. The pearls and the diamond necklace were courtesy of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry. Stephen Silver, who lost his own father to cancer, made Pearls of Hope part of a five-year pledge to raise $500,000 for the V Foundation.

Nickel & Nickel Winery – Gala Dinner and Live Auction

The gala dinner and live auction at Nickel & Nickel winery featured auctioneer John Curley, with assistance from Tony Award-winner Christian Hoff, leading the spirited bidding of the 32 live auction lots plus the Fund-A Need, including an array of exclusive VIP experiences and lots of fabulous wine. Highlights included the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, with tickets to MusiCares Person of the Year Ceremony, the Grammy Awards and the Sony Music Afterparty, featuring dinner at Nobu Fifty Seven and a private lunch at Gemstone Vineyard; Maui with Shep Gordon and Roy Yamaguchi, Williams Selyem and Singlethread, featuring an 11-course dinner at Kyle Connaughton’s Single Thread Restaurant in Healdsburg; Retox Weekend with Tito Beveridge of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Chef Shaun O’Neale, and Mike and Carolyn Maples in Austin, featuring dinner by Shaun and cocktails by Tito; The Voice & Best of LA with Philippe Melka and the Wineries & Winemakers of Atelier Melka, featuring a live taping of The Voice at Universal Studios and a private dinner at Nobu; and Duke vs. UNC, offered by Coach K himself, featuring team tickets to the Tobacco Road basketball rivalry at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The highest winning bid of $90,000 went for Beth Nickel’s Excellent Kohanaiki Adventure, featuring accommodations at Kohanaiki, Hawai’i with adventure outings and a private vintner dinner with Beth Nickel, which David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs further electrified by bidding for a double lot that brought in another $160,000.

VIP at the Grammy Awards Experience

There was also a ‘be a VIP at the Grammy Awards’ experience; a one-of-a-kind, 25-year vertical from Dunn Vineyards on Howell Mountain; a croquet party for 20 at Meadowood, hosted by Blakesley Chappellet and inspired by her new book, Napa Entertaining; a chance to party with renowned ice skater Scott Hamilton and his musician friends in Nashville; and a 10-day excursion on The World, the planet’s largest private residential ship. An exclusive concert performance by Michael Franti & Spearhead and a rousing Corona After Hours party at the Vintage Inn followed the live auction.

The V Foundation 

The V Foundation’s signature fundraising Wine Celebration event brought attendees from all over the country to the Napa Valley for a gala weekend of events and activities with a serious underlying purpose — to benefit the Foundation’s efforts to support significant cancer research at major institutions and research centers nationwide. Over the last 19 years, the event has raised more than $90 million, enabling the Foundation to provide over 600 cancer research grants nationwide. Bay Area recipients have included the Martin O’Neil Cancer Center at St. Helena Hospital, Napa’s Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Stanford University School of Medicine and UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center.

For more information about the 2017 event, call 707-963-0611 or visit winecelebration.org. Save the date: the 20th annual V Foundation Wine Celebration will be held August 2-5, 2018.