Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, a brand of Brown-Forman Corp., Louisville Ky., and Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area announced that the annual Wishes in Wine Country event collectively raised more than $936,000 to benefit children suffering from life-threatening illnesses this year. The event, which curates the best food and wine produced in Sonoma County, hosted 800 guests on the croquet lawns of Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards on May 16, as part of the ongoing partnership, the companies say. This year, fundraising efforts were able to support a total of 24 wishes to children of the Greater Bay Area.


More than 40 wineries and restaurants contributed to the success of the event at the annual Grand Tasting and Sunset Dinner. The Grand Tasting offered guests the opportunity to sample some of the best bites and sips the surrounding area has to offer, while enjoying a view of the hillside vineyards. Following the Grand Tasting was the Sunset Dinner and live auction, where guests enjoyed a three-course dinner featuring locally sourced food and wine pairings from Sonoma-Cutrer on the winery terrace.

"There is no better honor for us at Sonoma-Cutrer than to be able to host the Wishes in Wine Country event for such a great cause," said Tracy Thornsberry, Sonoma-Cutrer brand manager, in a statement. "Make-A-Wish is making such a difference for amazing and inspiring children and to get the change to be a part of it is so special to us."


The purpose of Wishes in Wine Country hit home with guests when they were introduced to Lola Wiley, an 8-year-old from Crescent City who suffers from lymphoid leukemia, and who recently came back from her wish to visit Disneyland. Her father Tim Wiley spoke to the sold-out crowd, emphasizing how much the wish has helped Lola get through her treatments and what it has meant to their family. He thanked the crowd for the part they played in giving his daughter something to fight for.


Following Lola's introduction, guests were able to make donations to benefit other children of the Greater Bay area and bid on a variety of extraordinary trips and wine-themed items and experiences during the live auction. The biggest lot, Adopt-A-Wish, allowed guests to donate to other children's wishes and brought in $184,000 in donations, to help grant a total of 24 wishes.


"This is one of my favorite events all year. We have so many loyal donors who join us each May at Sonoma-Cutrer to help raise money for wishes," said Patricia Wilson, Executive Director Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, in a statement. "But the reason for our event remains the same—hundreds of children in our home towns face life-threatening medical conditions that forever change their lives, and the lives of their families. So I was moved to tears when a saw the sea of paddles go up during our Adopt-A-Wish lot, which goes entirely to granting more wishes."