Rodeo champion wine auction regulars John Eddie Williams, Paul Somerville, Tom and Mimi Dompier and Joe Van Matre head huddled, just before the chichi dinner was served at Reliant Center, plotting their strategy for making the winning bid on the Grand Champion Best of Show Wine. "We're not going to lose," Williams quipped.
Sure enough, the team took the 9-litre bottle of 2009 Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore with a winning bid of $230,000. That was a record price for the top wine. And that combined with sales of the remaining 51 lots brought in a record $1.7 million, most of it for scholarships.
As Williams explained the generous purchase, it's all about kids and education. Bringing that point home was winemaker Ryan Levy who relayed how his rodeo scholarship to Rice University gave him a jump start in life.
On this 10th anniversary of the wine auction, another record was set — just under 1,000 guests, mostly in western cocktail attire, sat down for the white glove dinner service from waiters in white jacket uniforms. With four exceptional courses served with specialty wines, the Jackson and Co. touch was clearly visible at this rodeo event. As as one bidder observed, "The Wine Committee surely knows how to throw a party.
Key players in making this and the popular Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites competition a success were wine events chair Karen Pruitt, winery relations chair Sam Ray, wine garden chair JW Daubert and wine sales chair Gigi Wark.
In a western wine mood were guests including emcee Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu, Paula and Butch Robinson, Steve Stevens, Sam Ray, Rainey and Kirby Janke, Jennifer Van Matre, Sheridan Williams, Kristina Somerville, Kristen and Lee Nix, Carol Sawyer, Shelley Ludwick, Sam Malone, Judy Nichols and Peter Remington.