V Foundation Wine Celebration
Credit: V Foundation Wine Celebration

Anyone who knows me knows what a huge dog lover I am. Therefore, when I heard that this year’s V Foundation Wine Celebration, taking place August 1-4 in Napa Valley, has a canine component, my ears perked up like a pup’s.

First, let me tell you about this impressive fundraiser which was founded in 1999 by co-chair Julie Maples and year after year raises staggering amounts of money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. I vividly remember the first Wine Celebration I attended in 2015 as the editor of Haute Living San Francisco. I sat at the gala dinner and live auction and watched in awe as the fund-a-need brought in an astounding $7.8 million for pediatric cancer research. Still, I wasn’t prepared for last year, the Wine Celebration’s 20th anniversary, when the fund-a-need accounted for more than $16 million of the $18.1 million garnered for cancer research that weekend.

Beth is among the V Foundation supporters photographed with their pooches to help promote the 21st edition. Others include Wine Celebration board member Todd Zapolski and his wife Diana, Robin and Michelle Baggett of the Alpha Omega Collective, Blakesley and Cyril Chappellet and Lauren Ackerman, all previous V Foundation Wine Celebration vintner grant honorees, as well as Joe and Pat Harbison, this year’s vintner grant honorees.

Thus far, the Wine Celebration has raised more than $108 million for cancer research and related programs. The V Foundation for Cancer Research, started by celebrated basketball coach Jimmy Valvano in 1993, has awarded more than $225 million in cancer research grants nationwide and has grown to become one of the premier supporters of cutting-edge cancer research. Thanks to an endowment funded by generous donors, 100% of direct donations benefit cancer research and programs. This is why I am smitten with this nonprofit.

V Foundation Wine Celebration
Credit: V Foundation Wine Celebration

Now comes the canine factor. This year’s fund-a-need goes to the V Foundation’s Canine Comparative Oncology innovative grant-making program, which was announced last fall. The grant program helps accelerate research in this evolving field of study, enabling researchers from human and veterinary medicine to explore new cancer therapies anticipating better efficacy and less toxicity for humans and man’s best friend and beloved pet. Canine tumors can share multiple characteristics with human cancer, including responses to specific therapies. Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs with one in four developing the disease in his or her lifetime while for humans, it’s one in three.

V Foundation Wine Celebration
Credit: Bob McClenahan

I know it will be another special Saturday night inside the tent at Nickel & Nickel winery in Oakville, which since 2005 has served as the home of the Wine Celebration event that honors the memory of Beth Nickel’s husband, Gil Nickel. Beth is among the V Foundation supporters photographed with their pooches to help promote the 21st edition. Others include Wine Celebration board member Todd Zapolski and his wife Diana, Robin and Michelle Baggett of the Alpha Omega Collective, Blakesley and Cyril Chappellet and Lauren Ackerman, all previous V Foundation Wine Celebration vintner grant honorees, as well as Joe and Pat Harbison, this year’s vintner grant honorees.

V Foundation Wine Celebration
Credit: Bob McClenahan

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s legendary men’s basketball coach, returns to host for the 12th time and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse brings his culinary talents and a big heart. There are several other ritzy functions, including a lively “Rock the V” Party on Friday at The Estate Yountville, during the four-day affair. Saturday begins with the Answer for Cancer Research Symposium featuring some of the nation’s leading physicians and research scientists followed by the Marketplace, where boutique wines and bites are offered along with a silent auction. Once again, several members from Alpha Omega winery will be on hand at the Marketplace pouring wine and serving the Baggett Ranch BBQ team’s almost-famous ribs. I hope to see you there! Visit www.winecelebration.org for more information about the heartwarming weekend and how you can help find a cure. In the words of the late Jimmy V, don’t ever give up!

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