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Grumpy’s Pairs with Wine to Benefit the Arts
The 41st annual Sun Valley Wine Auction offered hundreds of wines for diners to try. And, if that was too overwhelming, there were margaritas over in the corner.
Saturday, July 23, 2022


The man paused to look at Trail Creek as he crossed the bridge from the Trail Creek Cabin into a lawn that had been transformed into wine zone.

“That river is made of wine tonight,” he said.

Indeed, the wine seemed to flow as easily as Trail Creek as a few hundred people gathered at Sun Valley Resort for a sold-out 41st annual Sun Valley Wine Auction.

Debbie Bacca and Nancy Buxton prepared for the onslaught with dozens of wine glasses at the ready

An archway of colorful paper flowers evoking the Museum’s current visual exhibition on gardens greeted all-comers Thursday night. And the MarchFourth Band provided color of its own with musicians in costume, ribbon performers and acrobatic performers as members provided a preview of the Afterhours party open to the community.

Dinner included oysters barbecued on the grill, along with octopus, carved rack of lamb, whole branzino fish and marinated cauliflower steaks. As exotic as it was Reid Sanborn couldn’t stop talking about the vintner dinner he’d attended the night before—one that included ostrich and bison.

“I’m here to make your evening spectacular,” Jake Moe announced to diners at one table. “If you’re not having fun, I’m fired.”

This was the 22nd year the founder of “Powder” magazine and Susan Moe—his wife of 49 years—had volunteered for the Wine Auction.

Courtney Gilbert and others with the Sun Valley Museum of the Arts showed off the latest Atkinsons’ Market Imperials that, if put together, showed one panoramic scene of Sun Valley Resort’s Bald Mountain.

“It’s not because I’m good at it but that I keep trying to get it right,” he quipped.

Susan Moe recalled earlier events that took place on the Big Wood Golf course and Warm Springs Golf Course. Then, they cost $75 and drew primarily locals, she said. Now the gala attracts vintners and wine connoisseurs from across the country to what auctioneer Greg Quiroga called the longest running charity wine auction in the country.

And they help each year to raise more than a million dollars for the Sun Valley Museum of Art’s youth and community outreach.

“I like that the money raised in the community goes towards community outreach and scholarships for students,” said Krista Simor, who decided to back The Museum along with a few other organizations after moving to the valley a couple years ago and researching the needs. “The museum offers so much. I saw an International Guitar performer go into the schools and I can only imagine how fascinated the kids were,” she added.

The March Fourth Band offered diners a sneak preview of the after party show that was open to the public.

The Atkinsons’ Market lot featured five imperial wine bottles with scenes of Bald Mountain. There was an European cruise for two on Amawaterways, and a four-day trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with wine pairs that went for $46,000.

A trip to Argentina’s wine country went for $30,000. Sun Valley Guides and Revelshine went together on a trek-in trek-out wintertime yurt dining experience.

And Grumpy’s paired with Chappellet & Trefethen to offer a Sunday afternoon on Grumpy’s deck pairing wine with juicy quarter pounders for $500 a couple. That lot raised $26,000, which Ketchum wine distributor David Cimino doubled to $52,000.

“It is so Ketchum, so Sun Valley,” said one patron.

Among those enjoying the evening were Jess Blake, Spencer Cordavano, Raina Cabell, Carter Roward, Amber Acker-Sanborn and Reid Samborn.

Peter Burke, who oversees the Wine Auction told guests that he has wrestled with how to quantify the impact of arts education. He found it in Luke Mauldin, a 2022 Wood River High School graduate who is headed to Boise State University where he plans to major in visual arts.

Mauldin described how he entered high school as a straight-A student in the gifted and talented program, then found himself struggling with ADHD and a depressive disorder. Arts helped him work through the messiness, said Mauldin, who is also a talented singer and actor.

“Art is the reason I function. If I stopped making art, I would stop functioning,” he said. “Art reminds me where I belong in the world. Thanks for supporting this organization—it’s helped me so much.”

Leonardo Trefethen whose family owns Trefethen Family Vineyards in Napa Valley was so moved by Maulding’s speech that he wrote a poem in minutes that honored Mauldin's talk while putting in a plug for the Grumpy's lot.:

“I looked at my desk and I felt depressed so left my nest and went to a place where no one is at their best.

“Where the people are sour but the burgers are sweet, where the fry grease splatters as they grill the meat…

It’s a strange dissonance I encounter everytime that I find myself beaten down by the daily grind. And where do I go? Where do I begin to feel fine? To a place reassuring in its grumpiness, all I need now is wine.”

Sun Valley Museum of Art opened up the afterparty to the community this year, bringing back an earlier guest—the MarchFourth Band, which provides a kaleidoscope of musical and visual energy with dancers, acrobatics, stilt walkers and high-energy music provided by a brass section and percussion corps.

“I invited my friends and they loved the idea,” said Jake Moe.

Narda Pitkethly arrived at 9:30 as the auction was still droning on. But she didn’t mind. She just ordered a cup of decaf and soaked in the scene around her.

“It’s beautiful. I’m so happy I get to be here, experiencing this,” she said.

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