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High Notes

> Story by Kirsten Rue
> Photography by Latham Jenkins

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In many symphonic works, the orchestra begins with a slow, sonorous opening movement. During an evening last June in a timbered great room in Indian Springs, the ceremonies began with a Prélude—a sparkling one, to be exact. Each guest raised a lucid glass of Taittinger Champagne to usher in an evening of gourmet philanthropy with—what else—bubbles.

The Jackson Hole Wine Auction is the primary annual fundraiser for the Grand Teton Music Festival, bringing together America’s premier chefs, vintners, and philanthropists to help underwrite the programming and talented musicians that have gifted our valley with world-class symphony performances since 1962. Since its inaugural event in 1995, the auction has played a huge role in enabling Grand Teton Music Festival to fulfill its mission. Not only do the funds raised contribute to packing Walk Festival Hall with 200 of the world’s finest orchestral players for seven weeks of glorious music every summer, the festival forges something more—memories. Whether it’s in al fresco performances or a child’s first gleeful discovery of classical music, renowned conductor Donald Runnicles and visiting soloists keep the memory-making tradition alive.

JACKSON HOLE WINE AUCTION . JUNE 25–27, 2015

“It’s hard to imagine a more complete event than the Signature Private Dinner in June at the Haberfelds’ spectacular home with Master Chef Roy Yamaguchi and his talented team from Hawaii presenting a five-course dinner paired with no less than six wines from the cellar of Pride Mountain Vineyards. The harmony of the evening with the superlative pairings in view of the Tetons made it a memorable dinner never to be outmatched,” recaps vintner Stuart Bryan of Pride Mountain Vineyards.

 

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Evening to Remember: The elegant dinner setting in the home of Louise and Ralph Haberfeld in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Signature Private Dinners are the most exclusive events of the auction—intimate meals, hosted by Jackson Hole homeowners, that pair exquisite cuisine with carefully selected wine flights. Each elite affair is capped at 40 guests, which means that all ticket holders can savor the opportunity to rub elbows as dishes, such as chilled Maine lobster, are painted with curry froth by bona fide kitchen superstars. Said tickets are available to the public, and the staff at the wine auction does its best to honor event requests.

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Team Effort: Stuart Bryan and Suzanne Pride Bryan of Pride Mountain Vineyards, Denise Yamaguchi and Chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s, and the evening’s hosts, Ralph and Louise Haberfeld.

Maestro: Chef, restaurateur, and TV personality Roy Yamaguchi masterfully plates the main course for the Haberfelds’ guests.

“The Signature Private Dinners are a unique Jackson Hole experience,” enthuses Louise Haberfeld, who along with her husband, Ralph, welcomed a team consisting of Chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s restaurants, as well as Pride Mountain Vineyards, for an evening that blended the aloha spirit with succulent textured duck, Alaskan king salmon, and thoughtfully considered wine selections. She adds: “The intimacy—of having a famous chef in the host’s kitchen, and the informal atmosphere of conversation with the vintners—is typical Jackson Hole; we’re big enough to attract famous talents and small enough to get to know them.”

In the case of the Haberfelds, the knowledge of Chef Roy’s cuisine preceded him—the couple spends some months in Honolulu each year, where they dine frequently at the original Roy’s. “Once we knew Chef Roy was going to be at our party, we started planning the flowers right away.” The Haberfelds ordered leis to be shipped in and presented to each guest, thus ensuring that their home in Jackson Hole would borrow some aloha from their Hawaiian home.

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Vintage: Suzanne Pride Bryan and Stuart Bryan selected wines from the cellar of their family-owned California winery, Pride Mountain Vineyards, to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience for this Signature Private Dinner.

Entertainment: Jackson Hole Wine Auction special guest Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator regales patrons with tales from the vineyards.

“It’s the can’t-miss event of the weekend,” Grand Teton Music Festival Director of Development Anna Dobbins says of the Signature Private Dinners. “Where else can you interact with the chef preparing dinner for you and your friends, all while enjoying exquisite wines with the vintner?”

And these are chefs with pedigree: Each year, wine auction Culinary Director Drew Nieporent of the Myriad Restaurant Group (counting Nobu restaurants as one of his joint endeavors) works to identify the “next big thing” in the culinary world—or, more accurately, five to six next big things—snagging chefs on their way to the national limelight from all corners of the country: New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles. Vintners hail from even more far-flung locales, pouring exciting vintages from remote New Zealand or the relatively nearby valleys of Healdsburg, California.

What tops the remarkable evenings, besides the artful platings and chilled viogniers, however, is that all of the chefs and teams waive their appearance fees, donating time and talent, while all the wines are donated by participating winemakers. Before candles are lit and guests arrive, Nieporent helps to guide each Signature Private Dinner’s menu and shares it with the chosen vintners in order to ensure the best possible pairings.

A warm June eve, worldly wines, masterworks of the kitchen, elegant interiors, and the chance to savor it all from the front row. It’s one of the most coveted tickets in town, and it’s for a good cause.

Bravo, indeed.

Jackson Hole Wine Auction: Benefiting the Grand Teton Music Festival
4015 N Lake Creek Dr #100, Wilson, Wyoming | 307-732-9965
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit jhwineauction.org