Spirited bidding for some memorable and collectible lots saw Cranford Hospice benefit to the tune of a $91,600 donation after Saturday night's big Hawke's Bay Charity Fine Wine Auction.
While the total just fell short of hitting six figures, it was a huge increase over last year's $65,065 result and left the organisers, including Graeme Milne from Presbyterian Support, smiling.
"It is a wonderful tally - we are very happy with the way it all went, and very grateful," Mr Milne said.
Cranford Hospice manager Helen Blaxland described the result as "the generosity of the winemakers and the community coming to the fore again".
As well as the crucial dollars raised, she was buoyed by hearing one of the winemakers enthusiastically remark that they had great ideas already for next year's auction.
"It is a wonderful ongoing thing and this is funding we very much need, so it is a fantastic result."
The two tribute lots of the night raised $8650.
The first to go under auctioneer Chris Tremain's enthusiastic hammer was Lot 11 - a dozen bottle selection of Gimblett Gravels blended reds and Syrahs dedicated to Sir Paul Holmes. Sir Paul was a former MC of the event and, as a Hawke's Bay boy, was a passionate supporter of the region.
After some feisty bidding, the lot went for $3550.
The second tribute offering, Lot 20, was a barrique of Sacred Hill Rifleman Chardonnay 2013 and a limited-edition framed print of a picture Te Awanga photographer Richard Brimer took as a memorial to his son, Joseph, who died after bravely battling illness in January.
It was a touching moment for many in attendance, including Mr Brimer and his daughter Ann, when the lot fetched $5100.
Mr Brimer made a poignant and emotional speech, which Mr Milne said was a highlight of the evening.
Another was the auctioning of the biggest wine lot of the night, and one of the most eagerly awaited - a 225-litre barrique of 2011 Syrah from Ngatarawa Wines. The bidding was willing, with the hammer finally coming down at $5500.
What made it even more of a standout was that Mr Tremain joined in the bidding and came away with it.
"Not often you get the auctioneer involved," Mr Milne said, adding that Mr Tremain and MC wine writer and commentator Yvonne Lorkin were a "great team".
Lot 24 from Clearview, a 65-litre red blend also hit the $5000 mark, while artist Nic Scotland's painting, The View, created plenty of interest and added $6150 to the fund.
Colourful and entertaining interplay came from individuals and syndicates vying to pick up the lots, and Mr Tremain was quick to seize on the excitement and had things fizzing along nicely.
An evening matching fine wines with an Elephant Hill degustation meal for 10 went for $3500. "An awesome buy" was how one auction-goer put it.
A Crab Farm Winery dinner for 10, accompanied by their best wines, made $2950.
The biggest cash draw of the evening came from a Vanuatu trip for up to 12 people, which went for $6400.
Mrs Lorkin warmed the crowd up nicely as the entrees were delivered to the 240 diners, and anticipation and the prospect of picking up something special was clearly in the air.
The opening lot effectively set the scene for what the organisers said was a "very memorable" night.
The 12 bottles and 12 magnums of assemblage Syrah 2012 from Gimblett Gravels in Lot 1 were snapped up for $2300 - which resulted in hearty applause.
"Just a great night and great for Cranford," Mr Milne said.
Morning Story, p10
Weekend in Pictures, p30-31