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Virtual grapevine: Vintage Albuquerque moves wine, food benefit online

Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque is one of six Vintage Albuquerque 2020 beneficiaries. Event proceeds benefit arts education programs for New Mexico children. (Courtesy of Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque)

Vintage Albuquerque is an annual celebration of fine wine and cuisine that lends a financial hand to arts education programs for New Mexico children.

Wine pairing dinners at local restaurants, the Opening Nite Gala Dinner, The Grand Tasting, the Big Event Auction Dinner, and Sunday brunch are some of events that Vintage Albuquerque hosts each year. The board of directors had to rethink this year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vintage Albuquerque 2020 will be virtual. It will feature live and silent auctions, virtual dinners, and creative games that will provide opportunities for supporters to obtain wine and spirit lots, art, and trips at various prices to make it accessible to all budgets. Another experience people can bid on is a wine and a Spirits 101 class that can be done virtually or at the winning bidder’s home.

The online auction will begin at 12:01 a.m. July 15 and end at 11:59 p.m. July 22. A “buy it now” option will be offered on some items, according to a Vintage Albuquerque news release. Preregistration begins Tuesday, July 7, at

“Our featured artist this year is Susan Zimmerman, and she’s been generous to provide us with a piece of art this year as well as be our featured artist next year when we do our big event,” said Linda Wedeen, Vintage Albuquerque executive director. “So that’s wonderful that’s she’s going to keep on with that. (Auction items are) pretty much the same things as we had before, maybe not quite as many, although right now I think there’s up to 30 something auction items.”

The dinners will not be held at local restaurants as in past years. Linda Wedeen and her husband Steve Wedeen, chairman of the Vintage Albuquerque board of directors, are offering to host one of the dinners.

“We talked to a few restaurateurs that we know, but, you know, they’re hurting so bad I can’t ask them to donate stuff, and even if we pay cost for them, it’s still not the same,” Linda Wedeen said. “We don’t have a whole lot of money to pay costs for. We’re not going to have those types of dinners. Steve and I are going to offer a rare-wine dinner at our home that people can bid on, and we’re going to get a guest chef. … A couple years ago, we did that and people really liked that.”

This year’s proceeds benefit Explora Science Center & Children’s Museum of Albuquerque, Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program, Keshet Dance & Center for the Arts, Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque, National Institute of Flamenco and NDI-New Mexico. Vintage Albuquerque has raised more than $3 million in its 28-year history for arts education for New Mexico youths, according to the news release.

“We’re just doing the best we can to help out our beneficiaries, which is our primary mission, but also help out ourselves because we want to come back next year and say we’re doing this again,” Wedeen said. “We really want to show Albuquerque and New Mexico that we’re still here and our mission is to help these great beneficiaries, these organizations through their art for kids and help support them. COVID didn’t take away art. We don’t want it to.”

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