By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor Wine Cellar event began with a great idea. According to Jimena Loveluck, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Resource Center in Ypsilanti, in 2004 HARC Board Member Martin Contreras and his partner, Keith Orr, approached her with the idea of adding a wine auction to the organization’s annual Dining for Dollars. With eighty bottles of wine from donors ranging from Governor Jennifer Granholm to Michigan Radio’s Todd Mundt the collection was too large to be an auction add-on. Instead, the wine was raffled off.
“From the raffle alone, we raised $6,000 that night,” Loveluck said.
“It was such a success and so many people loved the idea we decided to make it its own event,” she added.
Ann Arbor Wine Cellar, a wine raffle and tasting event to be held Thursday, Nov. 3 at Palio’s in Ann Arbor, is the result.
According to Orr, donors for this year’s event include three Ann Arbor mayors, Michigan’s governor, local and formerly-local noted wine collectors, and other well-known figures from the Ann Arbor area.
Event participants will find, “A wide range of wines from 71 Bordeaux to something you’ll want to go pick up for dinner today,” Orr said.
Two bottles of the wine are especially well-traveled, he said.
Tony Perrault, the former owner of Escoffier in Ann Arbor who has now opened a restaurant in California, is donating four bottles – including two from the Escoffier cellar.
Those wines have “traveled from Ann Arbor to California and back,” Orr said.
The wines will be raffled in lots, including “Mayor’s Row,” the selection of wines donated by current Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and past Mayors Ingrid Sheldon and Liz Brader, who is now a state Senator.
“I’m still trying to get a couple other mayors” to donate, said Orr. Eve Aronoff of Eve the Restaurant, Crag Common from Common Grill, and Peter and Rita Heydon of the Mosiac Foundation are among the other donors.
Roughly one hundred bottles of wine had been collected as of press time.