You Can Help Lyric Opera’s Wine Auction Committee By Supporting Wineries and Local Restaurants

Calling all opera, wine, food and travel lovers—aka everyone! (The committee behind the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Women’s Board Wine Auction, a fundraising initiative that has raised more than $11 million for Lyric since 1988, is urging those with an ability to do so to join in on a “social distancing campaign” in support of the sponsors of the 2018 auction (which raised a record $2.2 million and was named a top charity wine auction by Wine Spectator) and the featured vintners already in place for the 2021 gala.

2018 Lyric Wine Auction / Robert Kusel

“As we started to reach out to potential restaurants, wineries and travel company partners, I started to get uncomfortable,” says Erica Sandner, the chair of the Wine Auction Committee and a Lyric board member, about planning the 2021 auction. “Rather than ask how they can help us, there has to be way to reach out and push something out to help them.”

According to Sandner, many wine auction supporters return year after year and have become valuable partners. “It’s a way for Lyric to reach out to its broad base of supporters to recognize and appreciate these businesses that have been so generous,” she says.

As for Lyric itself, more than 300 artists there spent the last six years preparing to present Richard Wagner’s complete Ring cycle, which was to reach audiences from all 50 states and nearly 30 countries. In the wake of Illinois and Chicago mandates that large-scale public performances be canceled, Lyric Opera had to cancel the Ring cycle performances (Lyric Opera’s other May and June performances have been moved to upcoming seasons).

The cancellations and the expenses of rehearsing and preparing productions is reflected in a $15–$20 million loss. The Lyric board of directors chair-elect Sylvia Neil, along with her husband Dan Fischel, have started The Heroes’ Fund, with the goal of raising $7.5 million to support Lyric during this challenging time. Supporters are invited to make charitable contributions, which will be matched, or to donate their tickets for Ring, Götterdämmerung, and 42ND Street back to Lyric as contribution. Support through the Valhalla Circle giving society will also be matched by The Heroes’ Fund.

As a patron, Sandner is saddened to not get to see the Ring cycle but excited about the effort to help partners and sponsors, an effort she said was instantly embraced by the board. “Everyone thought it was a great idea,” she says. “A lot of people are out of work.”

How You Can Help

Sandner has offered easy ways to help Lyric sponsors and partners—simply order some wine (a bottle or a case!) from listed vintners, buy gift cards or order take-out from listed restaurants, or book that trip from listed travel companies that you know you’ll want to take after the pandemic subsides.

Support Vintner Sponsors in Place for the 2021 Gala:

Blackbird Vineyards

Château d’Esclans

Cheval des Andes

Dakota Shy

Futo Wines

Kistler Vineyard

Morlet Family Vineyards

Peay Vineyards


Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery

Support 2018 Vintner Sponsors:

Alpana Singh

Arietta Wine – Fritz and Caren


Azienda Agricola Sottimano

Banfi Vintners

Bell Wine Cellars

Black Walnut Inn and Vineyard

Blackbird Vineyards

Bodega del Desierto

Buglioni Wines

Cardinale Winery

Casa Piena – Gail and Carmen Policy

Castello di Ama

Castello di Brolio

Castello di Monsanto

Castello di Volpaia

Champagne Taittinger

Charles Krug Winery

Château d’Esclans

Chateau du Terte

Chateau Haut Bailly

Château Lynch‑Bages

Chateau Margeaux

Chateaux Palmer

Colle Bereto

Connoisseur Wines

Craggy Range Winery

Darioush Winery

Dom Perignon

Domaine Clarence Dillon

Domaine de Mourchon

Dominus Estate

Dyson Wine – Domaine des Rabelles

Far Niente


Flickinger Fine Wine

Folio Fine Wine Partners

Futo Wines

Grgich Hills Estate


Hafner Vineyard

Harlen Estate

Heitz Wine Cellars

Hirsch Vineyards – Jasmine Hirsch

Ketcham Estate

Kistler Vineyards

Kosta Browne Winery

Lail Vineyards

Maison Alex Gambal

Maison Joanne

Marchesi Antinori

Michael Mondavi Family Estate

Morlet Family Vineyards

Napa Valley Vintners


Peay Vineyards

Pierre-Henri Gagey – Maison Louis Jadot

Pine Ridge Vineyards

Promontory Winery


Qupé Wine Cellars

Ramey Wine Cellars

Red Car Wine Co.

Robert Foley Vineyards

Sebastiani & Sons (Donny Sebastiani)

Shafer Vineyards

Skywalker Vineyards

Soliste Cellars

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery

Stagin Family Vineyard

Stagsleap Wine Cellars

Taylor Fladgate

Tenuta di Trinoro

Tenuta Sette Cieli

Twins Bordeaux

Villa de Geggiano

Willamette Valley Vineyards

William Cole Vineyards

Wines for Humanity

Support 2018 Dining Sponsors:

Calihan Catering

Chef Lee Wolen

Chicago Cut Steakhouse

City Winery Chicago

Coco Pazzo


ESquared Hospitality

GT Prime

Les Nomades

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Levy Restaurants

Park Hyatt NoMi Kitchen


Sarah Grueneberg

Scott’s Restaurant


The 50/Fifty Restaurant Group

Three Dots and a Dash

Support 2018 Travel Sponsors:

Alvear Icon Hotel and Residences

Ambassador Hotel

BOP – Best of South America

Borgo San Felice


Conrad Hotel – Chicago

Entertainment Cruises and Elite Private Yachts

Estancia Arroyo Verde

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

Hotel Le Bristol Paris

Jean Claude Bernard – Hotel le Cep

Llao Llao Hotel and Resort

Los Ombues


Palacio Duhau (Park Hyatt – Buenos Aires)

Paul Klein Travel

Quark Expediitons

Ritz Paris

Rome Cavalieri

SeaDream Yacht Club

Sue Flood

The Bushcamp Company

The Peninsula Chicago

Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago

Villa La Coste Hotel & Spa

Waldorf Astoria, Chicago

For more from Better:

Dan Jewett HeadshotDaniel Jewett has been a Bay Area journalist for more than two decades, getting his start as editor of his hometown newspaper, the Foster City Progress. Jewett went on to serve as Associate Editor for Oakland and Alameda magazines before crossing the bridge to serve as Marin Magazine and Spaces’ Managing Editor. Jewett still calls Oakland home, where he writes and plays music with his wife in My Little Hum and hangs out with his chickens, bees and cats, Holly and Maple.

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