The Birth of a Classic

One night in the winter of 1991, Bob and Eleanor Stanton sat at Table 8 in the softly lit dining room of The Lucky Star, relaxing against the cream-colored cushions, sipping wine and chatting with owner Herman “Butch” L. Butt III. Talk turned from idle banter to an idea for a party. While the theme was left open, raising money for charity was clearly identified as the purpose for the party.

A few weeks later during a business trip to the northeast, Bob happened to glance at a feature story in the local newspaper about a wine auction. The event had attracted hundreds of wine lovers who crowded around tables to bid on bottles of wine with the proceeds going to support public radio. That afternoon, in the lobby of a Connecticut office tower, the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation was born.

The first year’s auction was staged with the help of two local distributors, Jerry Kantor of Broudy-Kantor and Jimmy Rogers of Associated Distributors. Butch contacted friends at regional public television and public radio affiliate WHRO, which agreed to provide volunteers and publicity. In a meeting hosted by Eleanor and attended by 12 friends sitting around the dining room in the Stanton’s home, the auction came to life. The group started telling others about the auction and within weeks the $50 tickets were gone. Held in a white tent on the rolling acres in front of the Stanton home, the first Grand Auction attracted 200 people and raised $11,000.

Over the past 25 years the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation has grown in many ways and distributed almost $7 million for charity. In 2010, a commendation from the Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia and a resolution from the City Council of Virginia Beach acknowledged the Foundation’s 20-year record of service in support of its mission to educate youth. We were also honored with the 2014 Outstanding Foundation Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  This success has only been achieved through the kindness, hard work and support of its dedicated board, sponsors, donors and volunteers.