The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is well-known for its whopping numbers — indeed, last year, more than 2.5 million people attended the event in total and more than 80,000 fans packed NRG Stadium to catch George Strait.
But the big figures don’t end at concerts. At the annual Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction & Dinner, oenophiles bid on winning wines from the Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition (held last November) and didn’t spare a dime.
The Grand Champion Best of Show, France’s Piper-Heidsieck Brut, Champagne, NV sold for $220,000 to buyers Katherine Cornell and Tom Pirtle, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Jennifer and Joe Van Matre, and Sheridan and John Eddie Williams.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show, Italy’s Cavaliere d’Oro Bellezza, Chianti Classico Gran Seleizione DOCG, 2015, sold for a record $215,000 to buyers Lisa Blackwood, Abbot Downing, Randa and Ray Gilliam, and The Murski Family Foundation.
The Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition brings an international scope to the local festivities. The 3,528 entries hailed from 19 countries, including France, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Israel, Argentina, and South Africa. (Some 380 entries came from this year’s featured region, Mendoza, Argentina.) Locally, 480 entries came from Texas wineries.
Rodeo guests who don’t want to ante up six figures for quality grape can still sample a selection of the champion wines from the International Wine Competition. Wine offerings will be available for tasting — by the glass and bottle — throughout the entire run of the rodeo (March 3 – 22) in the Champion Wine Garden. Wine education seminars are also hosted in the Champion Wine Garden, ranging from $55 to $95 per person.