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On National Wine Day, raise a toast to find a cure for cancer with the V Foundation

Revisit one of the Silvers’ most fascinating projects: ruby-encrusted Jeroboam bottles co-created by Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry and Gemstone Vineyard for the V Foundation Wine Celebration auction

Ruby Jeroboam bottle by Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry and Gemstone Vineyard for V Foundation Wine Celebration

Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry’s boutique and showroom just outside San Francisco Bay positions the company within easy reach of Northern California’s best vineyards, including Napa’s Gemstone Vineyard. The Silvers and the proprietors of Gemstone Vineyard, the Dornbuschs, have long been friendly, sharing a passion for local philanthropy. They have also found common ground as producers and purveyors of rare, collectible commodities that require the right conditions, passion, and expertise to create. The friendship only deepened when Jared Silver joined Gemstone Vineyards Proprietor Amy Marks Dornbusch on the V Foundation Wine Celebration Board in 2019.

The 2020 Virtual V Foundation Wine Celebration auction highlighted the first fruit of Jared and Amy’s collaboration for a cause: a co-designed, ruby-encrusted Jeroboam wine bottle auction lot. The dazzling bottles generated intense media interest leading up to the event, which in turn, created unprecedented demand and set off a bidding frenzy during the digital auction. Read on to discover how this special partnership raised $300K for a good cause.

A precious collaboration

Amy Dornbusch, Proprietor, Gemstone Vineyard: “This was an incredibly special collaboration and important to us for many reasons. I have been on the board of the V Foundation Wine Celebration for over 7 years and my family has supported this phenomenal organization for over 20. Jared and Stephen Silver have become great friends of ours through this community and through our positions on the board. This collaborative project is a testament to our friendship and our shared desire to find a cure for cancer.

Named after our daughter, the Ruby Barrel Selection is the most special Cabernet Sauvignon from our estate; a wine that is crafted by tasting through every single one of our barrels and selecting the 4 most distinctive of the vintage. There is as much thought and deliberate attention to quality and detail put into our wines as the Silvers dedicate to crafting their exquisite pieces. We were thrilled to offer this “gem” as it is such a meaningful alignment of the values behind Gemstone, the Stephen Silver brand, and the winning bidder. It is my sincere belief that we will find a cure for cancer long before this Jeroboam reaches its aging potential. I hope the enjoyment of our 2019 Ruby Cabernet serves as the ultimate celebration for finding a cure, and the beautiful Stephen Silver adornment its lasting legacy!"

Message in a Bottle

Coronavirus fears had upset the typical in-person model for the V Foundation Wine Celebration in 2020, scheduled for the month of May. Adapting to the times, much of the annual auction event moved online, but it was at first unclear whether the new format could still raise the vital funds needed for the V Foundation, whose mission to fund medical research for a cancer cure remained as important as ever.

To help boost awareness of the event and the unique auction lot, Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry and Gemstone Vineyard announced the ruby bottle collaboration and auction lots in May of 2020. Soon, extensive media coverage in high-profile publications (Robb Report, Forbes, Yahoo! Life, and Business Insider, to name a few) began reporting on the upcoming auction and spreading the word on the bottle and the need to raise funds for cancer research.

V Foundation Wine Celebration Board Members Jared Silver and Amy Dornbusch

A dramatic bidding war

The day of the auction came, and participants began placing their digital bids. Silver, Dornbusch, select fellow Wine Celebration board members, and a small group of friends watched the digital action unfold at a socially distanced gathering at Adam and Amy Dornbusch's private home.

Any anxiety around the auction’s success soon dissipated as a dramatic bidding war erupted, with multiple parties vying to own the world’s only ruby-encrusted Jeroboam bottle. The ruby-encrusted Jeroboam Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2019 future of Gemstone’s Ruby Barrel Selection bottled by premier winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, was just one part of the exclusive auction lot that also included a private dinner for 6 and the opportunity to later remove and reset the bottle’s rubies into a custom piece designed by Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry.

Once aged to perfection and artfully blended by Thomas Rivers Brown (2018 Wine Spectator: “Napa’s Top Gun”), the exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon will be poured into each 3L Jeroboam bottle, etched, waxed, expertly set with rubies hand-selected by Jared Silver, and presented in a custom 'jewelry' box. These special auction lots mark the first time the waitlist only Ruby Barrel Selection has ever been offered in a large format 3L edition, and they are certainly the first to be so elaborately etched and adorned with gems.

The auction packages also included a private dining and wine-tasting experience for six with the Silver and the Dornbusch families, and a future chance to collaborate with Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry on a custom ruby design, extracting the gemstones after the wine has been consumed to reset into a custom jewelry piece created by the Silvers' team of designers and artisans.

Clockwise, left to right: Caitlin and Stuart Landesberg, Douglas Cortina and Kristen Winzent, Jared Silver and James Herbert, Clinton Yara and Brett Geist, Marc Rollins and Whitney Michiels, Adam and Amy Dornbusch

Tasteful high notes and a smooth finish

Interest in the lot was so high, even down to the final moments of the virtual auction, that on the spot, Wine Celebration Board members Amy Dornbusch and Jared Silver volunteered to produce another 3 identical bottles and offer identical auction lots to meet the demand from the three other competing bidders. The four total lots sold for $75,000 each. Altogether, the bottles contributed $300,000 towards the total V Foundation Wine Celebration proceeds of over $3.6 million funds raised for cancer research.

At the close of the digital auction, the collaborators and friends raised a toast to the successful collaboration and the quadrupled bids, which far exceeded expectations. The winning bidders included Nan and Wayne Kocourek, Cindy and Evan Goldberg, and two additional anonymous bidders. Each will receive a 2019 Future of Gemstone Vineyard’s exclusive Ruby Barrel selection.
The virtual auction was hosted by NCAA basketball coaching legend Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, ESPN’s SportsCenter Anchor, Sage Steele, and featured surprise celebrity guests and entertainers including Katie Couric. Amy and Adam Dornbusch and Jared Silver were joined at the intimate Napa Valley watch party by fellow Wine Celebration Board Members Marc Rollins (with Whitney Michiels) and Barry Chandler Williams, as well as special guests Caitlin and Stuart Landesberg, Douglas Cortina, Kristen Winzent, Clinton Yara, Brett Geist, James Herbert, Adrienne Lin, and Sara Wortman.

Jared Silver, President of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry: “The auction results certainly exceeded our expectations. We were so proud to be able to raise even more funds for the V Foundation. It is clear that the success of this auction item is a testament to the longstanding commitment of the friends of the V Foundation, as well as the incredible partnership that resulted in the first of its kind ruby Jeroboam. It warms my heart to know that these magnificent bottles will be on display in four of the most prominent wine cellars in the world and that we raised $300,000, ensuring vital funds continue to go to cancer research.

The need continues: V Foundation Wine Celebration 2021

The V Foundation Wine Celebration will take place again in 2021, with the need to raise funds for lifesaving research remaining as important as ever. This year, the Foundation’s fund-a-need will focus on immunotherapy, a growing area of study that shows great promise. Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the immune system and trains it to recognize cancer cells and eliminate them, forever.

Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry is proud to continue supporting the V Foundation and the V Foundation Wine Celebration in Napa, CA, taking place August 5-8, 2021. To join the fight, donate now to the V Foundation or visit winecelebration.org for more information.

For more information on Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry's philanthropic partnerships, visit our Philanthropy page or read Jared Silver's interview in Modern Luxury Silicon Valley.