The annual celebrity wine tasting and auction benefiting the Frank Ski Kids Foundation gives supporters a chance to boost their oenophile game while helping support educational opportunities for young people. And who knows which celebrity sipper you might bump into?
This year’s event, planned for 6 p.m. March 4, is being hosted by Atlanta rapper and actor Ludacris. The event venue is Steel Mill in Atlantic Station (the location that formerly housed Strip).
“It is by far the most fun wine party I do,” said Highland Fine Wine owner Nick Salpekar, who provides high-end options for VIP patrons. “It’s not an event that’s just about this wine. It’s a very different type of charity event.”
It’s not unusual for patrons to run into a high-profile sports or entertainment figure and strike up a conversation over a shared affinity for a certain vintage, Salpekar noted, as the event’s relaxed vibe encourages lots of mingling.
He and Ski shared some of their favorite memories from the event over the years. The time a local CEO was locked in a bidding war with Sean “Diddy” Combs over a 6-liter bottle of Opus One. (Diddy claimed the prize after the price rose above $20,000).
“That might have been the most ever paid for Opus One to date,” Salpekar mused.
The event also will feature a cigar bar with tequila.
“We make sure we have something for everyone,” he said.
The Frank Ski Kids Foundation supports a number of initiatives, including a college scholarship program and an annual excursion. This summer’s trip will take 10 young people into the Alaska wilderness. Ski hopes a future marine biologist or environmental scientist might take inspiration from the rugged surroundings.
“They come back with a whole different set of understanding,” said Ski, whose past trips have included treks to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforests, where young scholars had a chance for meaningful ecological encounters.
He also dispenses wisdom about navigating the business world as the kids get older.
“I tell them, as they get older, learn something about wine,” he said. “You want to ruin a business deal? Order the wrong wine.”
General admission tickets are $150 and VIP tickets are $250. See frankskikids.org for reservation information and other details.