Saturday’s Wineapawlooza 2015, a fundraiser for the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, raised $750,000 with the auction of 13 lots, which included a “Fund-A-Need” lot.

One of the most fun lots was bought for a mere $2,500, which allowed the winner, Belia Marshall, to get up on the stage and ring a cowbell to the tune of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” played by Jeff Smith’s rock ’n’ roll band, Wristrocket.

Besides Smith, its members include vintners and those in the wine business including David Stevens, Mike Hirby, Scott Turnnidge, Paul Hoffman and Cooper Lenhart.

The evening included wine tasting from 60 of the valley’s top vintners and winemakers, a red carpet welcome for a variety of animals, including dogs, horses and a 250-pound potbellied pig, “Mr. Moo,” who wagged his tail for anyone who would scratch his head or his back. His dad, Rob Johnson, rescued Mr. Moo from San Francisco after seeing an ad on Craigslist.

Early Sunday morning, Monica Stevens, founder of JARR, said in an email, “It was an amazing night,” and showed the “passion and enthusiasm from our wine community and our visitors to the valley, for the animals.

“And David (Stevens) and I couldn’t be more proud of the whole JARR volunteer crew that made this event happen. Our auction chair, Vanessa Conlin, was very focused and relentless on bringing it home for the animals,” she wrote.

On Monday afternoon, Stevens said she has been planning the event since October and had met five times with auctioneer Fritz Hatton to go over every detail and every costume change. “The success of the event is because of the preparation and because of our attention to detail,” she said.

St. Helena’s Hatton said he works about 30 auctions a year, most of them for nonprofits. On Saturday night he said he and his family weren’t getting much sleep because they are taking care of eight Bernese Mountain Dog puppies that were born a week ago.

The top-selling lot was a collection of 80 magnums of highly sought after, small production wines from the Napa Valley. It quickly reached $90,000, the crowd cheered as the bidding crested $100,000 and Hatton persuaded one of the two bidders to spend $107,500 for the cellar’s worth of wine.

Another interesting lot was a half-barrel of 2014 Vine Hill Ranch Deer Camp Blend. Bruce Phillips joined Hatton onstage and said his late parents would have wanted their allocation of the wine to go to Monica and David Stevens, founders of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch. The lot description states that the Phillips have been grapegrowers since 1959 and in every vintage they “create a small amount of wine for the family to enjoy; a wine they envision drinking around the campfire at an old deer camp in the hills that surround the ranch.”

It sold for $34,000.

Other lots included an experience at Meadowood Napa Valley during its Twelve Days of Christmas celebration ($44,000); an experience of Andy Beckstoffer’s heritage vineyards, including magnums of wines made from the To Kalon Vineyard grapes by various producers ($52,000); a concert experience with the Dave Matthews Band in Mountain View with Russell Bevan and Victoria DeCrezenzo ($70,000); a Hollywood VIP package, including an appearance and a line in an upcoming movie, “Mantivites” ($32,000); a trip to France with Wendy Narby and Michel Rolland ($60,000); and an experience tasting wines from Fairchild, Fait Main, Memento Mori and Pulido-Walker ($65,000).

Saturday night’s event was the second Wineapawlooza fundraising event and last year it raised $440,000, Stevens said.

Stevens’ Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch and its board of directors are seeking ranch land in Napa County to house rescued animals. Currently they are putting foster parents together with animals needing rescue, helping pay for food and veterinary care for those having a hard time keeping their animals and finding adoptive parents for their foster animals, including dogs, cats, bunnies, goats and others. They also collaborate with other rescue partners, like Sunshine Horse Rescue, for horses that need care.

Stevens said she and David, who is president of the board, have looked at 50 properties in the last year. They are seeking ranches of 50 acres with barns and other structures and a modest residence and have a budget of $1.5 million. They seek to either buy or are open to a long-term lease.

They focused on two properties to buy in the last year and neither panned out. Neither had water and they were willing to drill a well, although the location of the proposed well was too close to a roadway.

Currently, JARR has placed 19 cats and dogs in foster care, which can last up to six months. The organization also provides foster parents for “Fospice” dogs and cats, that is, those who are nearing the end of their lives.

For information on JARR, contact or call 815-8153.


David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st

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