“You know it’s completely sold out, right?”
I reread this line in the email a few more times for clarity. The Friday night event seats around two hundred and fifty people, while the Saturday event has a capacity of nearly three times that in the only 20K square foot room in Omaha we can find that won’t charge us corkage. Sold out? No, no I didn’t know that. I’m not even certain that I realized that was possible.
For the past two years, I’ve been proud to serve on the VinNEBRASKA committee, a small group of devoted, affable folk who, along with the indefatigable assistance of dedicated volunteers and employees from our charity partner, put on Nebraska’s biggest wine event on an annual basis. It’s a fantastic production — a seven course meal, meticulously paired with phenomenal wines and served at a winemaker dinner with vintners of all stripes seated at the tables along with attendees. That night, Friday, there is a brief auction of some fantastic items — vacations, verticals, that sort of thing. Then the next night, Saturday, is two hours of tasting with all twenty plus wineries followed by a live auction where each winemaker gets up on stage and tells you what is being auctioned. Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone Winery is the auctioneer; the wine keeps flowing. I tell you, it’s one of the most lavish and enjoyable wine events I’ve ever been part of. And the best part is, we end up raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our partner charity. This year, and next, that partner is the Omaha Public Schools Foundation. I suspect I don’t have to tell you why they’re near to my heart.
This year, we once again have an incredible lineup of wineries coming to Nebraska for the event, from old friends like Smith-Madrone, Frank Family, Silver Oak, Rombauer, Duckhorn, and Delille, to some who haven’t been in the state for a long time if ever, including Sonja and my dear friends from Volker Eisele Family Estate, as well as Zialina, Yarden (all the way from Israel!), Prager, Keenan, Del Rio, and Ambassador. It’s a truly phenomenal assembly, and the best possible opportunity for anyone who is interested to taste a ton of terrific wines in one fell swoop right here in Nebraska.
Below are a few of the photographs I took last year. To be honest, I didn’t take many, as my role on the committee had me running around quite a bit that night, but I got a few that I hope will give you an idea of things.
The fact that there is only one hotel in the entirety of Omaha that has a room this size is telling. (There’s also on in Papillion but they want a pound of flesh for corkage and we open hundreds, possibly thousands, of bottles, so no thanks.)
Last year Sonja and I enjoyed spending much of the evening with our friend Jennifer Waite of Tamber Bey Vineyards.
A representative of Schramsberg, Napa’s second oldest winery, performing a sabrage on stage during the live auction.
So. Much. Queso. (And wine!)
It’s a great place for winemakers, distributors, and everyone else to become new friends. It’s also a terrific opportunity to photo-bomb people.
So here is my proposal, friends: Join Sonja and I at VinNEBRASKA… next year. I was slightly surprised, as I mentioned before, to learn that the event was entirely sold out for 2019, but I was also elated by the news as those ticket sales are going to translate directly into support for teachers and their students in Omaha Public Schools via the Omaha Public Schools Foundation. The event next year will again support the OPSF, and will be held sometime in March or April. So I propose you join Sonja and I. I can get a table for Friday (which will include a table for Saturday — Saturday’s event alone is $135 per ticket), and if we all go in on it the cost isn’t overwhelming. I’ll be more forthcoming about prices and whatnot if you’re serious, on a one-on-one basis. Let me know what you think. We’d love to have you with us.
I hope everyone has had a terrific weekend. I was going to vote in favor of skipping church to take the kids to the zoo this morning, but the rain has me rethinking my position. I’ll go get another cup of coffee and continue to mull it over, while upstairs my wife and children slumber. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, thanks for reading and be well.
Cheers to supporting great organizations together, this year, next year, and ever after,